The annual Christmas challenge of being gay
He's the loner at dinner or in a huge family party, the one who plays with the children while his cousins tend to kids of their own. In conversations, he is cornered by each nosy aunt and asked why he's not married. She says her amiga's daughter is single and the two of them must be set up.
A concerned uncle reminds him of the need to carry on his family name. He is called torpe, afraid of women, or worse – that he needs to be a man. Tito asks if he still needs to be taken to a massage parlor to be "baptized." Tito is so kind that he volunteers to take him as if he's passing on his manhood like it's some kind of prize.
She is ninang to all at every family party. Her pamangkins love her because she gives in to every request. She spends most of her time hanging around younger people who don't have as many questions as to what her life plans are. Sometimes they even ask her for love advice.
When confronted by an auntie, she is told she needs a husband. Her own mother nags her to grow her hair and wear dresses so that she will find a man. Titas all around her ask her when she is getting married, and then give her unsolicited advice. Not only is she told that snagging a man is essential, she's also told she's getting old and running out of time.
With all the questions of when we're going to be married, ironically nobody asks if we actually have someone to love. If we are alone at the Christmas party, it must mean that we are doomed and unloved. It's never considered that maybe the family wouldn't welcome the company we'd like to keep, when it's clear that if we did take our partners, they would likely be shunned.
So we say we're single, and that we're just busy at work or school. We say we just haven't found the right one. We endure the interrogations, the matchmaking efforts, and the repetitive life lessons from well-meaning relatives – all because we can't answer the basic questions asked of us.
Why can't we just tell the truth?
We don't have to be closeted, and we don't have to hide, dodge questions, or lie. But the truth has gotten us in trouble too often in the past. If we answer that we don't like the opposite sex, we'll be accused of causing drama, making a scene, or of shaming the family. Yet if we lie, that means we must be ashamed of our lovers and lives.
If we tell the truth, we invite lectures on morality, religion, and eternal damnation. We'll be told we are malas (bad luck) to our families, and reminded that it's only through heterosexual marriage that we can be happy. Our partners will be accused of leading us in the wrong direction, even if it's our own choice to be with our own kind. We'll be asked to pray away and banish the most joyful part of ourselves.
And so we lie. We pretend our families don't know that we're not their typical daughter or son. We appear to be always missing out on opportunities to find love. We stand on our own as each married couple passes us during parties, oblivious to the fact that if we could get married, we'd have done it a long time ago.
The truth is, we are tired of being asked what is wrong with us that we can't find a partner or a spouse. We are weary of being put against the standard of a marriage we're not even allowed to have. We're not picky, afraid of commitment, or unable to keep a relationship. We're not man-haters, pihikan (picky), lacking in game, afraid of dating, or wanting to be alone all our lives.
We are actually loved
In fact, we have loving and healthy relationships, if you would just take the time to ask. We have someone who wants to grow old with us and share our lives. We have a circle of friends and second families who have accepted us in a way that our blood relatives don't even want to start.
Try it for a change. Ask who we're hanging out with lately. Ask how our "best friend" or "roommate" is doing. Ask who we actually went to Boracay with last time. Instead of being shocked or disgusted, be interested and happy for us, and we might actually open up.
Maybe this year, instead of asking us to change our ways for Christmas, how about changing your outlook about us? There's nothing wrong with who we are or who we love, and whether or not you agree will not change that.
Don't know where to start? Simply ask about our partners by name. It's not that hard. Take it one step further and say, "Invite (name) to our party next time." Or even, "I'd be honored to meet your other half."
You might just benefit from the love we no longer have to hide. – Rappler.com