How ‘Stop Kiss’ Could Push For an Inclusive Environment
by Anne Marielle Eugenio, May 14, 2019 2:50pm
Art by Ahl Mirambel
In the Philippines, discussions about the LGBTQIA+ are no longer considered taboo—we talk about the community’s fight for equality. Compared to other countries, the nation gives everyone the freedom to express what their sexual orientation and gender identities are. But even with this liberty, the stigma surrounding the LGBTQIA+ communities are still prevalent.
According to the Psychological Association of the Philippines, the stigma is manifested through discrimination, bullying, and harassment of LGBTQIA+ members in the community. Media even portrays them as predatory and some institutions give them limited roles and occupations. Because of this, some hide, suppress or change their identities. The story of off-Broadway theater play Stop Kiss is not any different. Written in 1998 by playwright Diana Son, it portrays the relevant issues, like hate crimes against the community.
Set in New York, Stop Kiss tells the story of Callie, a traffic reporter, and Sara, a teacher who got a new job in The Bronx. These women became friends and eventually formed an unlikely attraction with each other. Callie and Sara were straight until they’re not. When they finally shared their first kiss one late night, they became the target of an assault. The incident sent one of them into a life-threatening condition. Son showed the reality of members of the LGBTQIA+ through Stop Kiss and their plight to fight for who they really are and their right to love.
Even though the story’s setting is in the US, our country can still relate to Stop Kiss. We have reports of hate crimes—the story of Jennifer Laude being one of the most popular ones. This kind of violence is a results from of discrimination and homophobia, and Stop Kiss, which portrays the struggles of same-sex relationships, is an eye-opener, a conversation starter to think these issues through.
In our current setting, the LGBTQIA+ are known for their comedic roles. The society accepts them for their antics and jokes, but when it comes to their rights, they are often deprived. They just aim to be treated just like “normal” people. The local government is doing what it can to help LGBTQIA+ members. The Anti-Bullying Law of 2013 includes sexual orientation and gender identity as one of the prohibited grounds for bullying and harassment. Mandaluyong also implemented an ordinance about LGBT discrimination which prohibits denying access to employment, public programs, and education to people because of their SOGIE (sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression).
While it is comforting to these orders will keep the LGBT community safe, it’s sad to know we need to implement laws just to make sure others won’t harm or discriminate them. It is all up to us to make the nation a safer space for every individual. The administration is making steps, but these laws won’t materialize if people will continue to isolate the LGBTQIA+ members.
We strive for equality, to make inclusive spaces—not only for the LGBTQIA+ members but for every individual. We all have different beliefs, but surely we can respect each other as human beings.
We are all created differently—our perception about religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, and ethnic origin varies. But whatever we believe in doesn’t make us less of a person. Let’s strive for equality and do our best to coexist on one planet peacefully. Let Sara and Callie’s story remain on the stage. Let’s try to improve our world better than those in movies or theatre plays. Let’s make our reality better than fiction.
If you want to be enlightened even more, don’t miss Diana Son’s Stop Kiss on July 12, 13, 19 and 20 at 8 p.m. and July 13, 14, 20, and 21 at 3 p.m at The Power Mac Center Spotlight in Circuit Makati. This adaptation is directed by Ed Lacson Jr. It stars Missy Maramara as Callie and Jenny Jamora as Sara.