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From the Editor

Are we too demanding?

If the guy you’re dating demands for you to go to the gym so you become a reflection of his concept of a perfect man, BUT he himself refuses to beautify himself, is this a fair arrangement? Michael David C. Tan asks if our “demands” are misplaced.

This one guy I used to see (we didn’t really date; it was a just two-time catching up, really) once insisted I have an airconditioning system installed in my place, since – for him – my place can get too warm, not too comfy for him when he visits.

Magpa-aircon ka na! Masyado kasi akong naiinitan, eh.”

I acknowledged the heat and humidity (I live there, in case he forgot); but… it’s not like he’ll pay MY electric bill.

What I found funny was the fact that he – then 29 years old – did NOT even have his own place; he lived with his parents, so our (two) meetings had to be rushed since “my Dad ruled that everyone has to be home before 10.00PM,” was his explanation.

And then there were two guys who commented on my, well, physical state.

When I was way, way younger, when the notion of “beauty=Muscle Mary” started its rise to becoming some form of norm, one guy told me to consider going to the gym since “you’re too skinny as an Asian”. I was actually already going to the gym then (to stay healthy, more than for anything else); but he, himself, was… skinny. He may have been in his 30s then, but he had a 27/28-inch waistline. Heck, my arms (skinny as they may have been, just as he said) were just as big as his legs!

Another guy told me to “hit the gym even more frequently; you’re almost there” – which would have been encouraging, if not for his other side comments that I shouldn’t be eating this or that because “you’re developing unnecessary – and as it is unsightly – parts in your body,” he said. This guy, by the way, was in his 20s, and he had a… paunch; and we’re not talking a slight paunch at that, he was known among his high school batchmates as the one who first started looking like a self-satisfied married guy who let himself go (in Tagalog, “mukhang tatay”), thanks to his beer belly.

The question, therefore, that has to be answered is on whether we have become too demanding. And to add (for a non-person-centric argument) to this is a different – yet related – question: Are our demands misplaced?

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And there are various things that may be drawn from this.

Firstly, as it is, are we really asking for too much? A friend met this guy once, and – as this friend told the story of the meeting later – it was a “magical experience”. The guy, according to my friend, was: good looking, well educated, well-off (he had his own apartments and his own cars, among others), had a big penis (and he knew how to use it, too), good conversationalist, and was overall nice.

“He’s just about a complete package; one I want to have as a boyfriend!” my friend gushed.

There was one catch, though (at least for my friend). And that is, the guy was too honest for his own good, he told his real age, i.e. 41. In the gay community, it can be arguably said that one is as old as one looks (defeating the “one is as old as one feels” mantra); but my friend himself said that until the guy told him his real age, he thought the guy was “just in his early 30s”. And so he dumped the guy, the ONLY guy he actually openly praised. All because of a “demand”, a desire for someone younger…

Secondly, are we unfairly asking for something that we – ourselves – can’t offer? My experiences (as earlier stated) elaborate this. And so I say that if one wants his boyfriend to be buffed, he should at least be buffed, too (unless one is a chubby chaser). If one wants to be pampered, do some pampering, too. If he pays for your dinner date, at least pick up the tab when you two grab drinks after that hearty meal.

It’s basic: If you want perfection, start with being perfect yourself.
This is – plain and simple – what’s fair.

Thirdly, are our demands making us miss out on opportunities? Yet another friend is looking for a BF who is: taller than him, older than him, better looking than him, as financially stable as him, and as educated (thus good in holding conversations) as him. He had been dating – A LOT. The problem is, those who has the qualifications he wants in a boyfriend seem to miss out on ONLY one of the criteria, i.e. they tend to be shorter than him. The taller ones fail in almost all the other qualifications he demands.

And so this friend remains single – and he isn’t happy about it…

There were, nonetheless, instances when I came across opportunities to have a different look at the concept of “demand”. That is, particularly when the opposite (i.e. lack of demand) is true, which may well lead to a discussion on gay empowerment.

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I continue to frequently come across members of the LGBT community who ACTUALLY do not believe they deserve happiness in the long run. Just yesterday, this transpinay I met at a conference told me: “Hindi ko inaasahan na magtatagal kami ng BF ko; tanggap ko na na maghahanap siya ng ‘totoong’ babae at iiwanan niya ako”. I was saddened that she is preparing herself for that moment when her boyfriend leaves her to be with a “real” woman. She reminded me of a gay friend from Cotabato City, who never ceases to tell his gay friends that “ganyan naman talaga ang buhay ng mga bakla, iiwanan naman talaga tayo. Tanggapin na natin”. For him, the love life of a gay guy is doomed because no one will take him seriously, and will eventually be left on his own; and that the sooner this is accepted, the better.

Alas, for me, this is but an argument that you – as a gay person – don’t deserve to be happy simply because… you’re gay. And this is erroneous.

You deserve to be happy – period.

But you have to learn to “demand” it.

The transpinay gifts her boyfriend stuff, “almost every pay day”, she said, adding that it’s because she loves him. “Mahal ko naman.” When asked if he gives her anything in return, she said: “I don’t expect anything from him” since “it’s normal for me to give him stuff, not the other way around.” This is supposed to last until her heart is broken because “it will be time for him to leave me and be in a normal relationship”.

No, I told her, there is nothing “normal” about this arrangement.

In fact, there is a need to change her notion of what’s “normal” – mainly because this “normalcy” is but an extension of heteronormative social constructs that, more often than not, prove disadvantageous to LGBTs.

She has to learn to demand what she should be getting.

And in an even broader context, WE (LGBTs) should demand what we should be getting – e.g. I pay taxes, I should be given EQUAL RIGHTS; otherwise, if you continue discriminating against me, stop getting money from me to finance your hatred of me.

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And so we go back to being demanding.

What I have learned is this:
It is okay to give, yes; but demand for an equitable return.
It is okay to demand, too, but be sure you can offer what you demand.
The idea is for any relationship you have to be mutually favorable; it isn’t a one-way street (as the cliché goes).

I am no longer in touch with the three demanding guys I met earlier in my life. But I came across a friend of Mr. Paunchy in Facebook a few days ago, and he kept me posted about his friend. Apparently, he’s in a relationship now, and – get this – the boyfriend is a 65-year-old bear, “tummy and all”, as this friend said. Alas, no, “he still isn’t Mr. Perfect,” the friend said, “but he has somewhat mellowed down…”

And that was good enough news for me.
That he has learned that, in life, it’s a package deal – or at least it should be.
Because I come with my flaws.
Accept it.
Just as I do yours.
Else, leave.

The founder of Outrage Magazine, Michael David dela Cruz Tan completed BA Communication Studies from University of Newcastle in NSW, Australia. He grew up in Mindanao (particularly Kidapawan and Cotabato City), but he "really came out in Sydney" so that "I sort of know what it's like to be gay in a developing, and a developed world". Mick can: photograph, do artworks with mixed media, write (DUH!), shoot flicks, community organize, facilitate, lecture, research (with pioneering studies), and converse in Filipino Sign Language. He authored "Being LGBT in Asia: Philippines Country Report", and "Red Lives" that creatively retells stories from the local HIV community. Among others, Mick received the Catholic Mass Media Awards (CMMA) in 2006 for Best Investigative Journalism, and Arts that Matter - Literature from Amnesty Int'l Philippines in 2020. Cross his path is the dare (guarantee: It won't be boring).


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