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Ryan: ‘LGBTs have to love and be proud of who we are’

Ryan

Ryan

Age: 26

What he does: Journalist for ABS-CBN News

Hobbies/Interests: Reading, watching, eating the news

Goal in life: To be an international journalist and an academic

I remember starting to feel attracted to other boys when I was 4. But of course, I did not know how to label myself back then. In 2007, my senior year in college, I first came out to a friend, then another, then another, and then came out in a column about coming out for the student newspaper. I had a movie date and dinner with my mom to tell her I was dating a guy. She hugged me tight.

I used to believe that (being straight) was needed for me to succeed in life. For instance, I tried hard to be manly, and tried harder to like girls. Obviously, I was unsuccessful, and I had never been happier to be unsuccessful.

There is growing tolerance for LGBTs and same-sex relationships. These days my boyfriend and I can hold hands and be sweet in public without getting a weird look from people (or maybe we just don’t care?). But then, tolerance is not acceptance. Prejudice against LGBTs, whether latent or manifest, still exists. There is also not much progress on the policy level. Until now, we are far from having a law penalising discrimination against people on account of their sexual orientation. We may not even see same-sex marriage in our country during our lifetime. But worse than all these is that some LGBTs themselves, even those who are out, believe there’s something wrong with being LGBT. I covered a campaign tour of Ang Ladlad before the 2013 elections and heard some gay men say being gay is wrong and that they feel sorry for themselves…

There has to be more self-love. We LGBTs have to love and be proud of who we are. We will never win the battle against homophobia among other people if we don’t deal with internalized homophobia within the community first, and if we continue to let prejudiced beliefs ingrained upon us by society govern our lives. I believe this is among the greatest challenges for the LGBT rights movement in our country.

 We are ‘queer’ only as far as our sexual preference is concerned, and that that deserves respect. Beyond that we have the same longing for love and happiness as everyone else.

Don’t rush into it. Take your time. Also consider practical matters: for instance, are you financially capable and independent enough to survive in case your family disowns you? Do you have friends to run to? But do not lose hope that your loved ones will accept and embrace you no matter who you are. Never underestimate their love. Whatever happens, remember that the suffocation and loneliness of being inside the closet is never worth choosing over the happiness and freedom of being out and proud.

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