Calling BTS biot is not just a K-Pop thing, it shows that homophobia is still a real problem in Philippine society.
BTS has achieved a lot in their career. When they started out, only a few saw the potential of the boys as a cultural collective. But only after a few short years, they were able to achieve global success. That success extends to the Philippines where they have a massive fanbase in the country. But despite all the success they have achieved, they are still looked down upon in some sectors in Philippine society. That was on full display during the BTS biot controversy that not only disrespected the group, but more than showed that homophobia is still persistent in 2021 in the Philippines.
It all started in early June of this year when two male senior high school students from the Jose Rizal Memorial University posted photos of themselves online with the words #BTSBiot written on whiteboards. For the uninitiated, Biot is extracted from bayot, which is a term meaning gay in some dialects. The photos went viral with not only PH ARMY calling out the homophobia, but also AMRY across the world, and even non-fans.
The issue received further attention when in the lead-up to the launch of the BTS Meal in the Philippines, screenshots from a Facebook group made up of Grab PH riders showed them making fun of BTS and calling them biot. Others in the comment section said that they would boycott the launch so as to not deliver the meal. This then led to backlash online and calls to boycott Grab PH for the homophobic comments. Shortly afterward, Grab PH released a statement saying that they suspended some of the delivery riders who made the homophobic and derogatory comments.
There’s a lot to unpack with this incident, but if there’s one thing to take away from this, it is that homophobia is still real in the country and we still have a long way to go when it comes to respecting the LGBTQIA+ community. BTS, like most K-Pop idols wear make-up and present themselves in a way that may not conform to standards of what some people might think a man should look like.
Despite the explosion of popularity of K-Pop around the world, some members of society still deem male K-pop idols as gay, based on the mere fact that they look different. The Philippines is supposed to be an LGBTQIA+ accepting country, but that is far from the truth. People still think lowly of males who express themselves in different ways or don’t conform to certain age-old standards.
You may not like K-Pop, but expressing it through derogatory and homophobic terms is completely unnecessary and straight up wrong, because the only thing that shows is that you have a screwed-up sense of thinking. This has so much more to do than with BTS, but it shows how Philippine society is still not that accepting of people who do not parallel what was dictated to us by society.
You don’t have to look far to find homophobia in Philippine society. Discrimination, misrepresentation, and worse, the killing of the LGBTQIA+ community is still very much happening. Homophobia is not okay, not only towards BTS, but for all members of the LGBTQIA+ community. To use that term is to belittle and demean their existence and to make them seem less than human.
Still A Long Way To Go
As we celebrate Pride Month, we are reminded that we as a society still have a long way to go to achieve true equality. Even if you don’t take the BTS biot incident into account, the LGBTQIA+ community in this country is still fighting to survive, be recognized, and respected.
If you think that calling BTS biot is funny or acceptable in any way, shape, or form, you’re part of the problem. There’s absolutely nothing that should be celebrated about what happened. FYI, being homophobic is not a personality trait. The only thing it shows is toxic masculinity and it doesn’t make you more attractive just because you call BTS gay. There is nothing funny about making fun of someone’s gender identity. It has never been funny in the first place. We are living in 2021, but some people still have the mindset that it’s the 1940s.
It is at least comforting to know that both fans and non-fans understand what was wrong with the situation. A sizable portion of Philippine society sees the issue with biot and also with what happened to the Grab riders. Should the riders who made those comments be reprimanded, yes. Was it right for Grab PH to suspend the riders for their actions, maybe not, especially during the pandemic.
But it’s also not right that the only thing the riders get is a suspension and nothing else. Grab PH should and maybe even must educate their riders on these kinds of issues like gender sensitivity and overall just good manners and basic human decency. Homophobia is wrong and has no place in society, but if you don’t show them why calling BTS biot is wrong, they will never learn and probably continue to do so in the future.
If you want to live in a society that is accepting of everyone, regardless of how they look and act, you need to call out the unacceptable behavior and educate on how to stop that toxic behavior.