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.”
“We know that time passes; that we grow old. We should learn to accept this. Nothing lasts forever.”
So said Carlos C. Bandorin, 60, from Sangandaan, Caloocan City.
Even when he was young, many people called Carlos as “Carlota”, a name obviously derived from his Carlos. But even if his name was already feminized, he said he wasn’t necessarily always “out”.
“In the past, it wasn’t that hard to be gay; you just hid it. Many of us were closet queens, so to speak. In those days, we don’t tell our parents we’re gay. Nowadays, people already do this,” Carlos said.
His mother sort of knew; and Carlos said she was fine with it. “But with my dad, it wasn’t (okay). He was quite strict.”
And so Carlos said he also experienced discrimination. “For instance, people were cruel to us. Even at home, there was cruelty.”
There are six of them. The eldest is a sister; and Carlos is the second to the last child. “I am the only gay member in the family.”
Looking back, Carlos said that “to have fun, we dressed as women. Me and my friends would attend parties dressed as women. We did it all together – drinking… things like that. That’s what we did to have fun then.”
Carlos said he also had sexual experiences with women. “There were some women who were insistent… so I had sex with them. I was bisexual then – I did it with women, and also with men.”
When he was young, Carlos wanted to be a fashion designer. “I liked drawing when I was young,” he said. But “nothing came of it. Also because life was hard.”
He finished Grade 6. “Our mother also died then; in 1970. So I had to stop going to school.”
And so “I had to focus on making a living then.”
Carlos helped support his nieces/nephews when they were young.
“I was a vendor in the past; I sold snack foods. I sold palabok, guinataan, palitaw, pichi-pichi… That’s what I did then. (But) I also accepted laundry; I helped my sister do laundry. Her children were young then, so I helped her make a living. It was hard to earn in those days,” he said.
In 2007, Carlos had a stroke.
“I think I was affected with palsy… because of my work before. I would stay under the sun, then get wet in the rain. So I was affected with palsy.”
Nowadays, “my bones hurt; my joints hurt; everything hurts. But I bear the pain. I put up with everything.”
In the past, “I used to have boyfriends, too. I left them eventually. I had to part with them because I could no longer offer them financial support.”
Carlos said that there were times when he actually loved men. “I shed tears over them because I loved them,” he said. “That’s in the past. It’s done. What’s important is I was able to show them that I loved them. I was able to give them what they needed. And that’s okay for me. I’m happy with my life now.”
Carlos believes that “men are meant to be with women. We need to accept this. That’s how it is. And this is the same with lesbians.”
And then, trying to wipe a tear forming in his eye, he said: “If only we can stop ourselves from loving… But we have to accept this. I tried loving before; but I knew I will just get hurt. So I had to stop myself from loving. I knew I will just cry from getting hurt. So even if I really loved a man, I fought it; I stopped myself. I knew I will just get hurt. I don’t want to get hurt anymore.”
Right now, his family supports him – his sister, and his nieces/nephews. “They all support me now. They all try to help me now so I have money for my needs – for food, for my medicines, for… everything.”
And because he lives under their care, “I humble myself when there are disagreements, or when I am reprimanded. That way, there’s no disagreement in the house.”
Every Sunday, Carlos goes to church for Bible study. “I am now amending my life. Perhaps that’s what God wants; for me to amend my life. This way life will already be peaceful,” he said.
As part of this “fixing” of his life, “I avoid hanging out with friends, as well as bad habits/my vices. Those things change with the passing of time.”
Carlos wants younger LGBTQIA people “not to be hardheaded. Obey your parents. Fix your life so you don’t end up like us… Fix your life so you don’t end up sabotaging your own life.”
In the end, he believes that “LGBTQIA people should not pay attention to those who ridicule us. Just continue living your life on Earth in peace… and with fear in God.”