Manny Pacquiao, the boxer-turned-congressman and bigot-turned-bigger-bigot, is learning the hard way that calling for the death of LGBT people might not be the best move, politically speaking.
You may recall how, a few weeks ago, he stirred up quite a fuss when he said that same-sex marriage was immoral, then tried to walk it back with an “I’m sorry if” non-apology. That was followed up with a nuclear instagram post, in which he quoted Bible passages to justify the murder of queer people. Seems like a nice guy!
Well, since then his polling numbers have suffered a bit, and since he’s running for a senate seat right now, he had to do something about it. And so he did, inviting a group of LGBT activists to meet with him. That actually sounds like it might be a promising step! That could give the activists an opportunity to meet with him, to educate him, and maybe open his eyes about why he was wrong.
Then again, it could just be a cheap political ploy designed to help him win an election with no intention of reforming his bigotry.
Which is it? Hard to say, since Manny hasn’t made any statements since the meeting. But other LGBT organizers have already made up their mind, and criticized everyone involved: Manny for inviting them, and the attendees for showing up. A handful of Philippine activists have said that it was a mistake for anyone to attend.
But that seems premature. Let’s give Manny the benefit of the doubt here — maybe he really does want to understand where he went wrong. And even if he didn’t, and even if this was just a cheap stunt, maybe just being in the presence of LGBT people might accidentally help him grow as a person. It never hurts to hold out hope.