Over the weekend, social media influencer Raymond Gutierrez posted a picture of himself together with Senator Manny Pacquiao on Instagram. The two were photographed at the Wild Card Boxing Gym in Los Angeles, California where the Filipino boxer has been training for his bout with American Errol Spence Jr.
Albeit Pacquiao and Gutierrez posed as if about to engage in a fight, we all know they were just playing around for the cameras. To some, there may not be anything off-putting about the picture. In fact, some of Mond’s IG friends found the snap cute, at least judging from the emoticons they left on the post’s comments.
To members of the LGBTQIA+ movement, however, there’s clearly something wrong with the image. Gutierrez, after all, has recently come out as a gay man via a magazine cover story. And the Senator he is being friendly with is known to have offended the gay and lesbian community a few times in the past. “Seeing Raymond Gutierrez with Manny Pacquiao in a photo last night is extremely painful, a feeling that can be likened to a betrayal,” Mela Franco Habijan, Miss Trans Global 2020, wrote in a Facebook post Saturday.
The Pantay Pilipinas ambassador went on to enumerate the offenses the born-again Christian Senator has committed against the LGBTQIA+ community: 1) Comparing them to animals in 2016 and saying the latter are better because they don’t engage in same-sex relations. “Kung lalaki sa lalaki, babae sa babae, eh mas masahol pa sa hayop ang tao,” Pacquiao said then.
2) That time when he was questioning Senator Risa Hontiveros’ defense of Senate Bill 1271 or The Anti-Discrimination Act, saying that cross-dressing might be employed by men to commit crimes such as fraud, citing as an example the case of Jennifer Laude, the transgender who was killed by a US Marine after discovering she had male genitals.
3) Opposing the SOGIE equality bill, which seeks to forbid discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation and gender identity expression.
“Sure, Pacquiao can be educated, but not at a time he’s aspiring to become President,” Habijan continued. “He should have done that the moment his Nike contract got terminated, and apologized afterwards for his ‘masahol pa sa hayop’ remarks. He could have reached out, reflected, empathized, and above all, supported SOGIE Equality Bill.” Pacquiao, however, did apologize after his 2016 statement but only for making the offensive comparison; he maintained he was against same-sex marriage.
Another LGBTQIA+ member and advocate, Thysz Estrada, also commented on Gutierrez’s photo with the Senator, which was commended by other netizens. “Mond, penge naman ng ambag sa laban natin,” wrote Thysz, a freelance creative consultant. “Isang suntok para sa SOGIE equality bill na pinigilan ni Senator Pacquiao na maipasa sa senado.”
For Thysz, no member of the LGBTQIA+ community should associate themselves with Pacquiao. “Not after he has publicly and repeatedly condemned queer Filipinos in the name of his religion AND consistently blocked the passage of the SOGIE Equality Bill in the Senate.”
“Enough with ‘I have LGBTQIA+ friends,’ ‘I employ LGBTQIA+ staff, etc.’ Pacquiao actions are more than clear enough,” Habijan further said in her Facebook post.
While clearly dismayed at the Senator, Habijan sounded considerate when she publicly addressed Gutierrez. “I hope, Raymond, as our LGBTQIA+ brother, you get to feel why this fight for equality — the bigger and real fight — is personal to us.”
Habijan also left a comment on Gutierrez’s IG post saying, “Hi @mond, I’m sorry but this is very disappointing. In case you have forgotten, that man belittled LGBTQIA+ people, saying mas masahol tayo sa hayop. I hope you’ll reflect about this as someone who is now a proud gay man.”
We got in touch with Gutierrez for this story but he has yet to reply to us. He very courteously responded to Habijan’s IG comment, however, thanking her for making him aware of the picture’s message. “I don’t stand by what he said but I do believe that every conflict can be resolved with proper communication,” said the media personality. Gutierrez added he would love to sit down with Pacquiao after his Vegas fight, if given the chance, and open his mind about the issues faced by the LGBTQ+ community. “Being a bridge to those who need to be educated is what I plan to do moving forward.”