On ‘gayness’: The Twitter war between Darren Espanto and Juan Karlos

October 23, 2018 - 2:56 PM
Singer Darren Espanto called Juan Karlos Labajo a homosexual after the latter allegedly tweeted about the former's "gayness." (Artwork by Uela Altar-Badayos)

Social media users slammed Darren Espanto for using the word “bakla” or “gay” as an insult to fellow crooner Juan Karlos Labajo in a tweet after the latter allegedly called him out for his “gayness.”

Espanto blasted Labajo who reportedly tagged him in a now-deleted tweet that said, “gayness at its finest.”

In response, the “Dying Inside To Hold You” singer called him out and said that the latter should personally see him.

Screenshot of Darren Espanto’s response to Juan Karlos Labajo after the latter allegedly called him out for being “gay.”

Labajo denied that he tweeted the phrase and according to Espanto, was previously approached by the management of their record label MCA Music (Universal Music Philippines) to discuss the controversial tweet.

While the tweet is no longer visible in Labajo’s profile, he shared a couple of posts that seemed to refer to the issue between him and Espanto.

He insisted he did not send out the tweet that suggested Espanto is “gay.”

Screenshot of Juan Karlos Labajo’s tweet in which he directly stated that it was not him who tagged Darren Espanto as a homosexual.

Reports note that Labajo privately messaged Espanto on Instagram but the latter brought it out in public. An excerpt of the message reads:

“Hey, man. So there was this tweet, someone tweeted using my account on Twitter saying shit about you. Just so you know, hindi ako ‘yun. Ask MCA if you don’t believe me. Someone else is using my Twitter account. So you better tell your fans and/or family to calm the f*** down because the last thing I f****** want is to be accused of something I didn’t f****** do. Cheers.”

Espanto replied that Labajo should “prove” that he wasn’t the one who tweeted the phrase.

Labajo retaliated by saying that the screenshot of him supposedly tweeting the phrase was an “edited photo.” He also claimed that his management has an access to his Twitter account, suggesting that it was someone from MCA Music.

Nevertheless, the spat earned the two a series of callouts from social media users who argued that the term “gay” or “bakla” shouldn’t be used as an insult.

There were others who refrained from directly mentioning the singers but their tweets were posted around the same time that the issue between the two exploded.

Darren apologizes 

The day after Espanto called out Labajo, the former apologized on Twitter and said that he didn’t mean to use the term “bakla as a derogatory term.”

Screenshot of Darren Espanto’s apology.

However, he added another tweet where he tagged Labajo and wrote that he would see the latter in court.

Screenshot of Darren Espanto saying he would see Juan Karlos Labajo in court.

As of this writing, Labajo has yet to comment on Espanto’s latest tweets.

‘Gay’ as an insult 

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers in 2008 discovered that the words “gay” and “bitch” are the most frequently used terms of abuse among young people, BBC News reports.

The words are used mostly by high school students against their fellows.

“Gay” is the most popular insult, having been heard by 83 percent of teachers being used as a derogatory term. “Bitch” comes second with 59 percent of teachers hearing it from students.

Despite today’s general acknowledgment of individuals who openly identify themselves as members of the LGBTQ+ community, there are still instances where the word “gay” is used in a derogatory manner. It is used to label an individual perceived to have fewer expected qualities of masculinity.

LGBT rights charity organization Stonewall calls these instances a display of “homophobic language,” where such terms are used to knowingly insult a person and demean actual homosexuals.

A boy physically assaulting his fellow schoolmate. (Wikimedia Commons/File photo)

Using words such as “gay” in an insulting manner forms a negative impact on the one being insulted, they note.

It leads to a low self-esteem, affects family ties, encourages bullying and condones hateful actions toward LGBTQ+ members.

Specifically referring to young people, Stonewall reports:

“When gay young people, many of whom are just coming to terms with their sexuality, hear the word ‘gay’ constantly equated with something negative, they start to feel that there is something wrong with them. This leads to gay young people feeling isolated in the school community.”

They added that the circumstance affects the families of those being insulted as well.

“It affects pupils who have gay friends and family as well, by suggesting that there’s something inferior or wrong with their friends and family members.”

A 2010 study done by the University of Cambridge in “Different Families” cited cases of bullying that arise from the constant use of the terms in an insulting manner. LGBTQ+ members are susceptible to verbal, emotional and physical abuse because of being perceived differently than their heterosexual peers.

Last year, Human Rights Watch found out that many young people continue to suffer from bullying and harassment because of being an LGBTQ+ member. — Artwork by Uela Altar-Badayos