This is part of #KaraniwangLGBTQIA, 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 LGBTQIA 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.”
Glendelle Louie Lagrosas, 19, had a crush on a male friend when he was 13 years old. And – since he’s also attracted to females anyway – it was at that time when he realized (and admitted to himself) that he is bisexual.
Around then, “I came out to my parents. I told them I am attracted to this one guy; but I still get attracted to girls. I told them I don’t know what to do.”
But – fortunately for him – his parents accepted him.
Even now, Glendelle is still being told “I’m too young to know I belong to the LGBTQIA community,” he said. “But I’ve been living as LGBTQIA already, and I like it. This is also what I want. People have no right to tell you (how to identify as) when they don’t really know how you feel.”
Glendelle has four siblings; he is the fourth child.
“Almost all my siblings are female. Only one sibling is male, and we’re not close to each other. We have a peculiar relationship. But at the same time, they all accept me. They were shocked at first. But there’s nothing they can do about this,” he said.
Yes, Glendelle experienced discrimination.
“One time, I wasn’t allowed to compete in a beauty pageant even if this was for males. I heard people say, ‘He’s gay. He’s not allowed to compete.’ I fought to be in tat competition; and they caved in,” he recalled.
To people who assume he’s gay, Glendelle said: “Know the proper definition of gay and bisexual. They think that just because you’re also attracted to other men, you’re automatically gay. I think they must educate themselves about the identities of persons.”
He also experienced discrimination in school, having gone to a religious school.
“They have these policies on what’s acceptable and not. They premise these policies on ‘According to the Bible…’,” Glendelle said. “So if you’re a homosexual, you’re not (well received). I’ve experienced discrimination from classmates and teachers.”
Glendelle added: “I just ignore them. Sometimes it pains me. But I just go with the flow. I just focus on my studies… as long as you don’t do anything wrong. That’s what I do to cope. Afterwards, the discrimination disappeared.”
IN SEARCH OF LOVE
Glendelle still tries to see the positive.
“Generally speaking, people here don’t care and love you for what you are. But there remain people who do not know about SOGIESC, or what bisexuality is. But if you have a good heart, are respectful… there’s no problem with (you),” he said.
He has a boyfriend now; he’s also bisexual.
“He’s an acquaintance in Manticao LGBTQ Pride Organization. The president of the organization is his friend. That’s how we met. Hung out. Started getting to know each other. We decided to be together because we’re compatible with each other.”
For him, it’s not hard to find love in Misamis Oriental.
“Actually, it’s tricky knowing a man’s SOGIESC here because there is no guarantee the one you meet is heterosexual. Some are closeted and are bisexual or just ‘discreet’, so you can’t identify them,” he said.
Besides, Glendelle added, “LGBTQIA people in Misamis Oriental are loving. So loving LGBTQIA people in Misamis Oriental isn’t hard.”
He is aware of the transactional nature of some relationships LGBTQIA people in his locality enter.
And “let’s be blunt: Some men profit from relationships with LGBTQIA people. They ask for money particularly from trans people. We can’t generalize, but this is a common practice for some. And mostly, here in the province, this is what they’re used to because they are not aware.”
For Glendelle, however, “why don’t we wake up their minds for them to know SOGIESC, and what we really are? For example, if they identify as trans women, they should show that they are women. And what do women do? They should be innocent, kind, respectful. If this is what men see, they’d treat you well. If they see you as a woman, they’d treat you as such. Sometimes guys get confused (with transactional arrangements) because it’s what some are used to. If, from the start, you give them money, they’d think it’s okay to ask for money. But if you say ‘No’, this doesn’t happen.”
ISSUE OF YOUTH
“I am often told I don’t know what I’m talking about because I’m still young. Well, all I can say to them is, it’s not about age. It’s about knowledge and life experience,” Glendelle said.
An issue for Glendelle is the catcalling done to members of the local LGBTQIA community.
“Of course discrimination also happens. But when trans people, gay or bi men walk past, some people do stuff that are really inappropriate and very disrespectful. They catcall, say inappropriate words… or yell words that are hurtful to us,” he said.
This is why, for him, belonging to an organization for LGBTQIA people helps.
“The value of having an LGBTQIA organization is in giving education. It can inform us what LGBTQIA is; the essence of LGBTQIA people; and how we can help this community. Particularly those who are not aware about the LGBTQIA community. That’s what the LGBTQIA organization do,” he said. “In cities, having LGBTQIA people is somewhat normal. But in provinces, LGBTQIA people are considered peculiar. This is why we need to act in the provinces; to educate people there.”
STOP THE HATE
“My message to those who discriminated against me and other LGBTQIA people: You need to stop. A single hateful word you say can adversely affect a person’s life. So stop hate, and just love,” Glendelle said.
This also extends to parents who can’t accept their LGBTQIA children, who – he said – should “look at their behavior. As long as they are doing good, respectful and responsible in life, you should focus on those. Don’t focus on one’s SOGIESC. It’s not like they do you harm.”
And to younger LGBTQIA Filipinos, “my message to those still struggling to come out, know your purpose; why you’re in the world. Being LGBTQIA is not a hindrance; it’s a gift. It means that you’re unique and different. So come out of your shell because the world is waiting for you. The world is full of adventures; so come out. Come. Join us.”