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.”
Rhame Saldo, 26, always thought he’s bi. NOT, he admitted, because he was ever attracted to women (he was assigned male at birth, and is only attracted to other men), but because “I always thought that the word, as used, referred to gender expression and not gender identity.”
The continuing misconception with SOGIE is – at least in part – what drove Rhame to get involved in advocacy. “I think that with knowledge comes power,” he said. “So helping spread information related to SOGIE could – in the end – help empower members of the (local) LGBTQI community.”
A resident of Roxas City in the Province of Capiz, Rhame – the youngest of four – said that he always recognized his male-to-male attraction. Like many, he supposed that it is with the terminology (in the vernacular, “bayot”) that he had issues with. The word “bayot” carries with it “so much baggage – e.g. that you’re effeminate, which the society frowns upon; that you only work in a beauty parlor; that you pay other men to have sex with you; and so on,” he said. There may be a reclaiming of the word that is happening, but “when you talk to the #KaraniwangLGBT, naku, malayo pa tayo sa pag-tanggan niyan (we’re far from accepting the word).”
Rhame is somewhat lucky because “my parents always knew I’m gay,” he said. “Grade 3 yata ako (I think I was in the third grade) when they first remarked on it.”
He has been able to introduce his boyfriends to them. “My mom said that it’s all okay, as long as it doesn’t cause me any trouble,” he said.
Rhame recognizes that not everyone is as lucky as him. Which is why he joined local clans – e.g. League of Pogays – that has events “that can support other LGBTQI people in Roxas City.”
He believes that “kahit papaano (somehow), we should help each other.” This may be in “helping people learn about their real selves, or in facing difficulties because of their real selves.”
In the end, “masaya maging beki (it’s fun to be gay),” Rhame said. “Your being LGBTQI can teach you a lot. Because of my gender identity, I learned to be independent; and to appreciate who I really am. So I say learn from it,” he ended.