Joanne Dioso, 52, was only in his 20s when he moved to Makati City.
Just as he finished his third year in high school, “nag-aral ako ng (I studied) cosmetology,” he recalled, which led him to a career as a hairdresser. Then someone he knew asked if he wanted to go to Metro Manila; and – as the cliché goes – the rest (as far as his becoming a Metro Manilan is concerned) is history.
Things weren’t always easy, Joanne recalled – e.g. he didn’t know anyone here. But he soon learned to adjust. He thinks he is so well-adjusted now, in fact, that he can’t think of a life outside Makati City.
But for Joanne, who is – basically – alone in Makati City (notwithstanding his social circles), this is proving to be a challenge as he grows older as a gay guy…
REVISITING THE PAST
Joanne said he always identified as a gay man, “hindi (not as) transgender.”
He was still young – “Siguro nasa Grade 4 ako (Maybe when I was in Grade 4 in primary school)” – when he said he must have realized he’s gay. At that time, he said, he liked playing with toys usually given to girls, and “mga kaibigan ko, babae lahat (all my friends were girls).”
Both his parents were okay with him being gay.
“Sinabihan ako ng father ko na… huwag masyadong maglandi-landi na bakla (My father told me not to be too flamboyant),” he recalled. His father died when he was young, though, so “hindi niya na nasilayan ang pagka-dalaga ko (he didn’t really see me blossom into what I am now).”
Baptized as Nemecio Dioso Jr., he was eventually called Joanne, a name – he said – that played on “Junior”.
They never really had the capacity to send all five kids to school, and so Joanne said he had to start working early.
And yes, this is also why – when the chance to go to Metro Manila came in the 1990s – he moved to the proverbial greener pastures.
Joanne said he felt “old” when he turned 40.
At that point, “hindi na masyadong naglalandi (I wasn’t as flirtatious and playful in life),” he said. Then, he added: “May mga nararamdaman na rin (My body started to feel aged, too).”
Technically, he doesn’t qualify as a senior yet; in the Philippines, the senior age is 60.
But Joanne said he can’t help thinking of a future as an older gay man.
“Dami ko iniisip pag-tanda ko (I think of aging a lot),” he said. “Saan ba ako (Where do I go)? Hihiga na lang siguro ako sa kalsada (Maybe I’ll just live on the streets).”
Of course, Joanne can choose to return to his hometown, but he is worried that – when he is older and is already “invalid” – people there may think badly of him. That “andito na naman ito, palamunin (this person is inutile).”
He admitted that there were times when he felt jealous with those who were able to find relationships.
But of course, in his era, gay men did not necessarily have relationships with other gay me, but only dated hetero-identifying men who ended up leaving them to marry women.
So his belief now is to just have flings. Relationships, he smiled, are expensive, unlike “flings na magbigay ka lang tapos wala na (flings wherein you just pay money, and that’s that).” If the partner wants to return, “okay lang (then it’s okay).”
The young, he said, doesn’t realize that they need to plan for their future. “Na sana ang pera ko… inipon ko (That perhaps I should have saved some of my earnings),” he said, so that when one is older, “meron ako makuha-kuha (I’d have something to use).” One only really realizes the fickleness of having fun when one is already older, he said.
Not that he regrets his life as a whole.
“Wala akong pagsisisi (I don’t regret anything),” Joanne said. “I am proud to be gay.”