This is part of #KaraniwangLGBT, 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 LGBT 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.”
John Robert “Jairo” Dela Cruz Bolledo was seven years old when he realized he was attracted to other boys. He admitted being “initially confused”, noting that he felt like he was different from other kids.
But that was also the time when his uncles forced him to shout: “Lalaki ako (I’m a man)!”, which was kind of traumatizing for him. Also, “in school, I remember (that other boys) sometimes get awkward kapag nakakasabay ko sila sa CR (when we’re in the toilet together).”
Jairo was 16 when he “fully” came out, at first to his ate (elder sister) and his mom. He was “lucky” because they didn’t express alarm. And so he grew up in a family that helped him “find wholeness”.
Jairo – who was born to a carpenter and a dressmaker in Obando, Bulacan – has three siblings, all raised by “a mom who worked to the bone seven days a week. She worked Mondays to Saturday as a seamstress, and would be a housemaid during Sundays,” he said.
“I never felt pressued,” he said – e.g. growing up fatherless (his father died of cancer when he was about to turn one), his mom never pushed him to like girls.
Life wasn’t always easy for them. As a child, Jairo said he used to walk with “magkaibang pares ng sapatos at sira-sirang bag (different pairs of shoes, and a tattered bag)” to get through elementary and high school.
But his mom always taught him “to have pride in whatever ascpect of who (I am).”
Jairo “went out of (my way) to pursue higher learning,” eventually pursuing a journalism degree in the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.
Even then, he recalled some people using the word gay countless times to put him down. “My response was: ‘As if being an excellent person can be tarnished by being gay. I am gay and I excelled in everything.’”
Jairo graduated Magna Cum Laude. But he lost his mom just a month before his graduation; she wasn’t able to to see the son she taught to take pride get the diploma they all worked hard to get.
Prepare a tissue for this ❤Posted by Rona Bolledo-Santiago on Tuesday, May 15, 2018
Right after graduating, he got hired as a researcher for a program at TV network GMA. He also decided to return to PUP’s College of Communication to teach.
There was a time when Jairo said he thought that living as a gay person “can break you because you are always looking over your shoulder.” But now – and knowing better – “Being gay was never, and will never be a hindrance to be successful in life. Our perspectives are relative. You can’t force them to accept the reality that we believe in. I think it’s always a matter of respect. If you can’t accept, just respect.”