This is part of #KaraniwangLGBTQIA, which Outrage Magazine officially launched on July 26, 2015 to offer vignettes of LGBT people/living, particularly in the Philippines, to give so-called “everyday people” – in this case, the common LGBTQIA people – that chance to share their stories.
As Outrage Magazine editor Michael David C. Tan says: “All our stories are valid – not just the stories of the ‘big shots’. And it’s high time we start telling all our stories.”
Michael Dave Gonzaga Duman – 32 years old from San Piro in Balayan, Batangas – started realizing he’s gay when he was still young. “I just got surprised I liked people of the same sex; I liked men,” he said.
The fourth of six kids, Dave said he’s okay with his family who accepts him fully. This may be because, he said, “there are LGBTQIA people in both parents’ sides.” Specifically, he has a maternal gay uncle, and his father has gay cousins. “So I have gay relatives from both sides of my parents.”
Though his family’s accepting, the community – in whole – has not always been (as) open about his being gay, Dave admitted.
“In the community, when I was younger, many got angry at me for being gay. I experienced being told I shouldn’t be gay because I’d have no future,” he said. “That served as a motivation for me as I got older, when I started knowing what is right and wrong. I learned from that. The discrimination I encountered helped me improve and grow as a person.”
Even now, Dave admitted, “I still experience discrimination because there are still a lot of judgmental people. But I get through them. You just ignore them because we really can’t help to be discriminated. You just keep fighting while ignoring them. They have no use in our lives, so just ignore them.”
For Dave: “We prove ourselves to them. We don’t have to listen to, or accept what people say. Let them be. And then show to everyone what you can do. Particularly to those who judge you. Prove to them by working hard. So when the day comes, they – themselves – will realize that they’re wrong for judging you.
MAKING A LIVING
Dave didn’t finish college; he only finished high school.
“This was due to financial problems. That time, the family immediately thought of (cutting) expenses,” he said, adding that “when I also graduated from high school, I still didn’t know how to work in a salon. And so I wasn’t able to support myself to continue schooling.”
He now has his own barber shop at his home, and he works as a freelance hairstylist and make-up artist.
“This started in the past, branching out from our salon in Mindoro,” he said. Specifically, “my gay uncle, my mother’s brother, has a salon. I used to stay there for vacation, when school was out. I got interested. I also liked doing this. I saw that I can do this; I can earn from this. So I pushed for it.”
Nowadays, “I earn somehow. There are days when I don’t earn, but I persevere. My earnings help the family. I am able to pay for material things, as well as the expenses.”
Dave added that “I am not pressured to do this. Because I can stand on my own feet, I can earn through various ways. I am able to help my family, other people and my friends. That’s it; there’s not a lot of pressure to do this.”
Dave thinks that those belonging to the LGBTQIA community are family-oriented. “Perhaps not everyone, as I’m not completely sure. But for me, supporting our families is okay.”
LOVE WILL COME
Dave is currently single.
“I also don’t know why,” he said. “But I believe someone’s meant for me. Maybe not right now, but someone will come for me. I trust this.”
Finding love, said Dave, is not necessarily easy.
“Often, people judge. They are critical of everything,” he said.
With guys, “sometimes they enter relationships thinking they’d be with you even if they do not love you. They’re only using us for them to get what they want. This isn’t true to all guys. But this is why gay men should be kind-hearted so they will be truly loved. But I still believe that there’s someone for each and every one of us.”
Dave added: “Loving shouldn’t be transactional. Because if you loved, if you desired to do this, you should be able to stand for it. For a heterosexual guy, if in your heart you really like a gay guy, then why not? It’s better if that gay guy also likes you. That will be ideal. But it may be better to know each other better first.”
“We are now more accepted by society,” Dave said, adding that “there’s less discrimination and judgment because we’re more known.”
To younger LGBTQIA people, Dave said that “perhaps when you’re still young you won’t think much of this; but as you grow older, do your best so your family becomes proud of you. If you belong to a family that judges you, convert what they say into motivation. This way you grow, you learn, you’d be able to fight and you’d be able to do everything you want. So you can help. Because while doing this, the more you prove to them you can do it; you can help them while surviving.”
And to parents who continue not to accept LGBTQIA family members, Dave said: “To mothers and fathers who do not want LGBTQIA children, you should accept them; they’re your children. Judgment can start from home. As mothers and fathers, your children came from you. You asked for these kids from God. If your kids turned out to be LGBTQIA, don’t judge them. They’re your kids. Love them. They can help you. I am certain of this. They can help your family, particularly yourselves.”