I once declared on my Facebook account that I don’t give a damn anymore whether or not same sex marriage will ever be legalized in the Philippines. Back then, it felt like fighting for marriage equality in this predominantly Christian country populated by small-minded prejudiced people is a lost cause, so I thought why bother waste my time on such affair. It’s also gotten so exhausting to discuss gay rights because obviously there are no more arguments to contest and education to be done; it’s just that some people chose to be cold and hard hypocrites who don’t have substance. But that is before I met my partner, the love of my life. At that moment, it all started to change.
As a child, I’ve always shown signs of being gay. My aunts, cousins and classmates would tease my feminine ways. They’d jeer at me and mockingly ask me if I’m gay. Of course I would deny it because society has imprinted on my young mind that being gay is an anomaly. I think my parents have observed the signs too but they chose to be quiet, probably secretly hoping at the back of their minds that it’s just a phase. But one vivid memory of my childhood is my father running after me and ready to hit me with a belt because he caught me trying on a female cousin’s shoes. When I recall that memory, I feel nothing but understanding for my father. Just like me, he’s a victim, too. Nevertheless, my parents filled my heart with all the love in the world. But I know for a fact that a piece of them is still longing for the son they wanted to have.
I outed when I was in junior high school. The first person whom I informed about my gender preference is my good friend, Leilani. There was not a tinge of judgment from her, and this great deal of love and understanding from a friend has made my “coming out” a lot easier and much more successful. I learned from my experience that coming out should be taken as a ‘baby steps’ process: it shouldn’t be hurried or forced. Timing and approach must be considered as well. Coming out to my Mom is one of the fondest and most memorable. It involved a photo of the hot Alfred Vargas in his white undies. In the end, my Mom voiced her support and love for me and who I truly am. I have never felt so loved.
I guess I’m just lucky; other homosexuals in various parts of the world don’t experience such warm reception from their families and friends. In some places, people like me are considered criminals and are murdered. A gay’s life is not always a gay life. Discrimination is everywhere. This is why we need someone, a partner, to share our tough journey with. Just like other human beings, we are capable of loving, too. We also go on dates, watch the sunset and the birds, we argue and feel jealous and we get our hearts broken, too. Being gay doesn’t make one any less a person.
If we can agree on this, the next question would be why is our government depriving us of the same rights heterosexuals have? Why can’t they let us marry just like other couples do? I’m a bona fide citizen of the Philippines, too. I’m a taxpayer, too, contributing probably more to the state money than those economically inutile bigots who do nothing but to kneel and pray and wait for blessings to fall from up above. Why am I being treated as a second-class citizen? There could only be one reason: religion.
Religion shouldn’t even be used as an argument when it comes to marriage. “Marriage” is never a religious affair. Churches do not perform marriages; what they are having are weddings. We are two people in love and just like heterosexuals, we want a legally binding document to state our love for each other and receive the same legal benefits that married couples are having. The legal sharing of property and parental rights, death benefits if our partners should die, and health benefits from a working spouse’s employer – all of these the State ought to secure us as citizens of this country. And religion should not be an issue. The Philippines is not a fucking theocracy.
More so, it is not up to the government who its citizens should love and marry. If two people love each other, regardless whether they are of the same sex or not, they should be allowed to confirm that love and have a legal ceremony to show that. Isn’t it a case of a double standard that our stupid lawmakers do not want to legalize divorce, the dissolution of marriage, yet they would also not allow gays, who are fighting really hard just to be unified with the person they love, to get married? I could go on and on and argue and argue but as long as the Church remains stronger than the State, I guess it’s safe to say that we are all fucked.
The Philippines is my home. It’s where I was born and where I would like to die. But any form of an unrequited love is bound to expire. Someday, I will be faced with a choice between my love for the country and my personal happiness. When that day comes, I think I’m going to need to pursue the things that make me happy. The things that my home denies of me.