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.”
Maria Ella Danaya Gigante, 18 from Brgy. Payumo, Dinalupihan, Bataan, was still in elementary school when he started feeling “different” – i.g. he was attracted to other men, and he also expressed himself in an effeminate manner.
He was “lucky”, in a way, because his family accepted him.
“At first – when family members noticed there was something different with me – I
was scared tell them who/what I really am,” he recalled. “But an elder sister told me that when I start high school, I’d be more gutsy to be who I am and tell them the truth. And indeed, this became true. And when I finally came out to them, they accepted me immediately. They told me that there’s nothing they can do if I’m really like this.”
This is perhaps why, for Maria Ella Danaya, family always comes first.
He is currently studying at Eastwoods College of Science & Technology, also in Dinalupihan, Bataan, where he taking up IT Programming.
This is not the course he really wanted to take up. “But gay men are talkative. And with this course, I can work in a call center, or have any job that will allow me to use my loquaciousness,” he said. In the end, “I really just want to give my family a good life. I want to be able to buy them everything that they want.”
Maria Ella Danaya, in fact, already currently works as a freelance hairdresser.
“It started when a gay friend rebonded my hair. It didn’t work on my hair, and it angered me. I did to my mother’s hair what my gay friend did to my hair, and it worked. I also have an auntie who has five salons in Batangas. She taught me the proper ways to do hair rebonding, give Brazilian treatment, do hair cellophane, and so on. That’s how it started for me,” he said.
Everything he earns from work, “I give to my family, particularly to my mom.”
Though his family has been accepting of him, Maria Ella Danaya admitted that, “to be honest, there’s really discrimination done against LGBTQIA people, particularly outside our homes. This is an unavoidable fact. People like us become outcasts; society just doesn’t prioritize thinking about us.”
Now how does he react to this?
“I stay quiet. I read somewhere that a person who talks too much has nothing worth hearing; and those who stay silent are better thinkers,” he said.
For Maria Ella Danaya, “my message to other LGBTQIA people is not to mind what other people say. Instead, show who you really are. Be happy in who you really are, and what you have.”
And to people who continue to discriminate against LGBTQIA people, “I can only say one
thing: The same LGBTQIA people you put down will rise to show you we also deserve complete acceptance.”