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WANTED: A ‘Pride’ for beautician Joan… and other LGBTQIA people like him…

There are people like Joan. Whose needs are still so basic; so much so that going to a “Pride” gathering is, for them, a luxury they just can’t have. And every single person able to attend Pride events at all should know this, should at least acknowledge this.

The somewhat old-ish hair clipper sounded angry as it cut close to my right ear. But Joan – formerly Joanne, a beautician cum hairdresser I’ve known for over 15 years – seemed undisturbed, as he made small talk.

How’s your partner? Fine. You still live in the same place? Yes. Remember D, that friend who used to have this store in Palanan? Yes. He’s healthy now, you know? The meds worked for him, no? Yes; that’s good.

He turned off the hair clipper, placed it on the ledge in front of me, by the mirror, then took a pair of scissors. The snip, snip started; along with the continuing of the small talk.

In a few years, I’d be a senior, he said. What do you think I should do? Not able to provide any answer, I just shrugged; he answered his own question, though also with a question: Maybe I should heed the words of my siblings; for me to return to the province, no? I can establish my own parlor there… even if a haircut there only costs PhP35, and I may have to close shop by 6PM every day, and people only visit once a month, and… It doesn’t seem like it’s worth it, no?

There was a time Joan considered moving to the Home for the Golden Gays when he turns 60. But that’s before he discovered there is no “home” for the senior LGBTQIA people; it’s a name of an organization, not an actual place. So “What do I do when I can’t work anymore?” is a topic we often tackle; and as always, it’s not readily answered.

This time, though, he reached to his bag; he then showed me two meds for his HB (high blood). Donations, he said, from the local government unit (LGU). Once every two months, they visit him to give him his supplies. Meds he needs to take for life.

The cut should already be over right after he shaved my patilla (sideburns), and the hair at the nape of my neck. But he took his scissors again, though as if to do more talking than to actually do some cutting.

The conversation led to the Pride events in Metro Manila on June 25th – one (the commercialized one) in Pasay, another (the one helmed by the local government) in Quezon City, and another (also backed by the local government) in Marikina City.

Are you joining? No. You should; at least once in your life, right? Hmmm… it would be fun to be around people like you. But that’s one day of not earning; I don’t think I can afford not to earn. Will I get paid to parade there? Or will I, instead, end up spending while not making a living?

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He was, at that point, putting baby powder on the hair duster. He then handed it to me, tasking me to help clean myself as he removed the hairdressing/salon gown.

And he was right… in everything he stated. From the issues people like him face, to – inadvertently – this critique on the concept of “Pride” that we now have.

Because there are people like Joan. Whose needs are still so basic; so much so that going to a “Pride” gathering is, for them, a luxury they just can’t have. And every single person able to attend Pride events at all should know this, should at least acknowledge this. Because for as long as there are LGBTQIA people like Joan, still left behind, our brand of Pride is all glitter with no merit, showcasing what divides us instead of what unites us, and awaiting unmasking for its exclusivity instead of being a tool to unite us in our diversity…

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