Who knew that Manny Pacquiao’s toughest opponent wasn’t Floyd Mayweather Jr. or Timothy Bradley, but the entire lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender (LGBT) community?
As far as gay-rights advocates are concerned, it’s a knockout.
The consensus on the Net is that the Filipino boxing champion has fallen from grace because of his rant against gay marriage. It has also ignited an online petition for Nike to drop Pacquiao as endorser. An Internet report claimed Pacquiao is now barred from The Grove, a shopping mall in Los Angeles, where the TV show “Extra” is taped, because of his “bigotry.”
In a recent interview in the US newspaper National Conservative Examiner, Pacquiao likened gay marriage to “Sodom and Gomorrah” and quoted a biblical passage that said “gays should be put to death.”
Pacquiao denied saying that in a statement read on the network news in Manila last night. He also said he did not know the text in Leviticus that prescribes death for homosexuality.
But earlier in the day, his website quoted him as standing by what he said.
Gay activists have weighed in and found Pacquiao wanting.
Anna Leah Sarabia, anthropologist and gender and development specialist, told the Inquirer: “He has lost many fans, unfortunately, and gained many critics. He is trying to make up for lack of knowledge on social issues by being self-righteous and quoting the Bible out of context, and parroting the brainless statements of homophobic and misogynist priests and politicians.”
Danton Remoto, chair of the Ladlad LGBT political party, also told the Inquirer: “Like Miriam Quiambao, Pacquiao speaks with the zeal of the newly converted about things he knows nothing about. His reading of Christian teachings is narrow-minded, bigoted and, I am sorry to say, ignorant.”
(Quiambao, a former beauty queen, also got in trouble after posting on Twitter that homosexuality is a “lie from the devil.” She later apologized.)
After expressing his sentiments against same-sex marriage in the Examiner, Pacquiao has been deluged with criticisms in the American media and on social networking sites frequented by his countrymen.
Not a few Filipino fans have pointed out: From national hero, he has become a national heel.
It’s an “embarrassment,” said a netizen on Facebook. “Not our proudest moment,” said another.
Another netizen wrote: “I think philandering husbands who flaunt their mistresses and then spout words from the Bible are the ones who deserve to be put to death.”
Another was more straightforward: “Manny needs to worry about his own marriage first before he meddles into everyone else’s.”
It’s rumored that Pacquiao’s marriage to Jinkee Pacquiao is constantly tested by persistent rumors of his womanizing.
The Courage Campaign website described Pacquiao as “homophobic” and launched an online petition for Nike to drop him as endorser.
The online campaign read: “Kids all over the world look up to Pacquiao as a role model. Nike earned a 100-percent rating in the 2012 Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index as a pro-LGBT company. Will they live up to it? Sign our petition and tell Nike: ‘Do not tarnish your brand. Stand with millions of LGBT and fair-minded people the world over. Drop Pacquiao now. Hatred surely does not equal Nike.’”
According to LA Weekly, Rick Jacobs, founder and chair of Courage Campaign, said: “American sponsors are going to have to look very carefully … whether they [will] continue to pour money into his apparently empty soul.”
Sarabia, who’s also the editor of the anthology “Tibok: Heartbeat of the Filipino Lesbian,” remarked: “There is a call from LGBT ranks to Nike and other companies to cancel his endorsement contracts because of what he said. There is basis for the call and it would be good to see how these companies will respond.”
Apart from Nike, Pacquiao has scored lucrative deals with international companies like Hewlett-Packard and Hennessy, too.
Banned at Grove
According to online reports, “Extra” host Mario Lopez announced on Twitter that Pacquiao was set to guest today (May 17) on his show, which is taped at The Grove.
The mall eventually issued this statement, published by LA Weekly on its website: “Based on news reports of statements made by Mr. Pacquiao, we have made it be known that he is not welcome at The Grove and will not be interviewed here now or in the future. The Grove is a gathering place for all Angelenos and not a place for intolerance.”
Pacquiao is in Los Angeles, training for his fight with Bradley to be held on June 9 in Las Vegas.
Village Voice parody
Village Voice ran a parody about 10 gays, both real and fictional, who can “beat up … pipsqueak Pacman.” The list includes American basketball bad boy Dennis Rodman and openly gay celebrities like British rugby player Ian Roberts, American football star Esera Tuaolo, singer Clay Aiken and comedian Rosie O’Donnell.
In the humor piece, Village Voice pointed out: “There’s no question that Pacquiao is a tough little guy. But he’s still a little guy (5-foot-6 and 144 pounds) and killing off gays one-by-one might be a slightly more difficult task than the feisty Filipino might think.”
The website of Advocate, a respected gay publication, carried the story with the headline: “Pacquiao compares marriage equality to Sodom and Gomorrah,” referring to the Old Testament cities that God destroyed because of their people’s immorality.
The Examiner interview mainly focused on Pacquiao’s reactions to US President Barack Obama’s recent support of gay marriage. Pacquiao told the Examiner: “America should be the model of morality for other countries to emulate and must have the responsibility to uphold the Scripture to the highest order of God’s command.”
Advocate reported that Pacquiao quoted the Bible, specifically Leviticus 20:13.
(Leviticus 20:13 reads: “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their heads.”)
In another Village Voice story, Pacquiao was put to task for quoting Leviticus 20:13. “Pacquiao apparently missed church the day they explained the Golden Rule.”
Village Voice also noted that the “boxer and congressman … is a devout Roman Catholic who recently talked about giving up boxing to focus on his religion. Considering how badly he seems to interpret the ‘good book,’ maybe that’s not such a bad idea.”
Local celebs’ ire
Pacman, as the boxer is known in the biz, earned the ire of local celebrities as well.
Filmmaker Jose Javier Reyes told the Inquirer: “Instead of a reply, I have two questions: Does the Bible endorse the infliction of violence against your fellow man in the name of sportsmanship and to accrue millions so as to further gain a feeling of righteousness? What is the saying again about a little knowledge? Let me check Leviticus … OMG, it says it’s also a sin to have tattoos.”
Pacquiao is as famous for his tattoos as for his killer punch.
Screenwriter and actor Rody Vera told the Inquirer: “Pacquiao may be the world’s best boxer. The funny and fallacious thing is that he seems to believe this translates to being a great politician, great thinker and great person. He’s only a winner in the boxing ring. How awfully small and confining that space is. It aptly signifies his narrow-mindedness and blind fanaticism.”
Sarabia took note of Pacquiao’s statement: “God only expects man and woman to be together and to be legally married, only if they are in love with each other.”
Sarabia asked rhetorically: “I wonder if Pacman (Pacquiao) understands what he said, if he was quoted correctly. His statement seems to be an endorsement for divorce.”
Below the belt
Comedian Jon Santos, who made news for marrying an American man, was clearly not amused.
Santos told the Inquirer: “Life is too short to be spent unhappy. What happens in the bedroom is too private to be subjected to other people’s judgment. God is too good to prevent people who love each other from staying together.”
But stand-up comic Willie Nepomuceno has a hilarious take on the controversy: “I haven’t paid much attention to him since he became the spokesperson of God. Tsk, tsk. Perhaps he has taken too many blows to the head? But, my goodness, now he’s hitting below the belt.”