02/20/2015

To the Filipino LGBT youth

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samlee

Dear You,

Congratulations, you’re gay! You’re one of the 10 percent of the entire human race destined to be a little different than everyone else. So be thankful. Be thankful that you absolutely refused to wear mary janes as a kid and insisted on wearing brogues with your checkered catholic school girl skirt — it makes for the most fashionable #tbt Instagrams. Be thankful for that unrequited first crush you had on your third grade classmate — it will lead to one of the best friendships of your life. Be thankful for all those times you were teased that you were gay even if you weren’t sure what you were yet — it will force you to examine who you really are.

Be thankful for all those times you had to pretend you were your significant other’s “best friend” because no one knew that you were dating, that you were someone’s secret. Those moments are the standards by which you measure the feeling of freedom. Be thankful for hands held under the table, secret code names and nights spent driving 66 kilometers out of the city just to be able to kiss each other whenever you want to — those are the moments you fight for. Be thankful for that feeling in your gut that finally pushes you to come out to your parents — nothing feels more like unconditional love than telling your mom you’re gay and her saying, “I know, and I love you.”

Be thankful for that guilty feeling that pushes you to be the best possible version of yourself every day. One day you will realize that being true to yourself is something you should never try to overcompensate for; you are enough. Be thankful that you don’t see representations of yourself in local media — be your own life peg instead. Be thankful for all those times someone told you “sayang ka” because of who you love. It makes you realize that you shouldn’t waste your time on people who think that being gay is your defining characteristic. It isn’t.

Be thankful for all the little things that you have to go through every day that force you to tell the world who you love even if it leaves you vulnerable to unwanted scrutiny: dressing however you want to, loving a pop diva, shaving your head, having to constantly come out whenever you have new friends, introducing your co-workers to your significant other, walking around the mall holding hands, posting couple photos on Instagram, tweeting each other sweet love quotes. Being gay doesn’t automatically make you brave, but living out these experiences is what does.

The Philippines has yet to have a historically documented gay liberation movement, but that doesn’t mean we won’t ever have one. There is a philosophical question that goes: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” So make noise, shout it out, do not blend into society. Celebrate your differences. And maybe there are days when you wish you could just be “normal,” that you could just be straight, but it’s your job to dive deep into who you are and stay true to yourself anyway. Live through the doubts, the judgments, the insecurities and the loneliness because one day we will find ourselves on the other side of all that hate. So come out and love whoever you love more fiercely; it’s a privilege to love what hate cannot touch. The work that lies ahead of us in terms of making this privilege a right may seem too great, but it’s our time now, so be thankful.

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