Trying hard

In the town where I grew up in, I hardly had any gay friends. In fact, as I grew up, I never had any friends. I had a twin brother who was straight and I sort of tried to tag along with his buddies. And like my brother, they were all butch and sporty and loved basketball and were basically everything that I was not. But I was desperate to belong so every afternoon I was on the court with them, struggling to figure out what to do with my arms and limbs. I couldn’t shoot a ball even if my life depended on it and after every game I would go home despondent because I felt like a failure. Of course, the only sport that I could handle was volleyball and it was the only game that I participated in during the intramurals in my junior year in high school. I remember going out on the court wearing a yellow shirt and short black shorts. I actually thought I was the muse.

I was very gay. Everybody could see that but I vehemently refused to admit it to myself. I thought it was shameful. Admitting it was like telling total strangers that I masturbate three times a day so I stayed in the closet for as long as I could. I tried to do everything that my brother and his friends did. When they decided to form a band, I joined in as their keyboardist. After all, I studied piano until the fourth grade. In one of their gigs, I was supposed to play with them. It was at an office party and I waited nervously as they slug through four of their five songs. When it was time for me to perform, I took my spot at the back and the lead guitarist came up to check if the keyboard and the guitar were in tune. Next thing I know I was going down the stage and they were playing their last song for the night. I was not deterred, however. If I couldn’t be in the band perhaps I could be with the band. Every time they jammed, I would be there sitting by the speakers grooving with them. The fact that they were just your average tambay with an electric guitar didn’t bother me although there were countless of times when in the middle of a Beatles song my eyes would glaze from boredom.

They loved the Beatles and in effect I also loved them too. But that’s because I had a huge crush on Paul McCarthy. I even tried to learn a few of their songs on the guitar but all I could play was “Let It Be.” I remember one childhood friend teaching me the guitar chords to Across the Universe. He was one of the few people who actually tried to befriend me. I guess that’s the reason I had a little crush on him. He had these long, bony fingers that he would wrap around the length of the guitar and every time he would sit beside me I would smell him. He emitted this pungent masculine smell. I actually thought he smelled vaguely of cum. Of course I never tried to make a pass at him. We were buddies after all.

Back then, my only wish in life was to be straight. In fact, every night in my prayers, I asked God to please, please make me just like every body else. And for several years that was what I was asking for until I got tired of begging. After all I didn't seem to change a bit so I decided to just deal with it. Fortunately I loved reading and I started reading books about being queer. I started reading William Burroughs and researched on Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and the Beatniks. From William Burroughs, I learned about Paul and Jane Bowles. Eventually I got hold of some Truman Capote and Derek Jarman. I thought it was interesting that as I was beginning to accept my sexuality, I also was educating myself with the best writers in history. After I have finally accepted the fact that I have never ever been turned on by a woman (early in high school I actually fantasized about having a girlfriend. Thinking about it now makes me want to jump out of the window.), I decided to tell it to one of my friends. It was late afternoon. We were in our house alone, just shooting the breeze. I was shaking as I tried to spit the words "gay" (well, to be honest, I told her I was bi, which, again, makes me want to kill myself. Bi? Ang baduy di ba?). When I have finally told her, she just looked at me and nodded. I thought she didn't hear me so I repeated what I said. Her answer was a very succinct: "Ok." Ok? I have been preparing for this moment my entire life. It has caused me countless of sleepless nights, guilt-ridden nightmares and long, lonely afternoons and now that I have finally, for the very first time, told someone who I was I was met not by curses, shock, or even just a slight surprise but, in my opinion, boredom. Instead, it was I who was dumbfounded by her total acceptance. They knew all along. Of course it wasn't really new. They were just waiting for me to come into terms with it and just get out of the freaking closet.

The problem though about coming out late in the game is a.) naturally, I had no sex life for most of my youth (one of my greatest regrets is not having sex when I was still in high school and in effect a pretty little twink) b.) I have so imbibed the straight culture that I used to stick out like a sore thumb whenever I was with my gay friends. I read in one of Danton Remoto's books that coming out is a never ending process and I agree. For the first few years, I was constantly coming out to friends and new acquiantances. When I started dating, I had to make an effort not to be self-conscious. I was always a bit paranoid that the couple at the next table was talking about my date and I. When I had my first boyfriend, it also took a little courage to finally have my friends meet my lover.

Over the years, I have fielded a lot of questions about my sexuality. Have I ever been with a girl? No, the sight of a naked woman makes me retch. How many boyfriends have I had? Two serious ones but I had lots of one night stands. Does my mother know? Of course she knows but we never talk about it. When did you realize that you were gay? The truth is I really don't know but I remember watching a sci-fi series on TV which had a dominatrix for a villian. Whenever we would play baril-barilan, I would wear a deflated salbabida as a costume and act as if I was the sassy, sexy villainess. Why are gay men promiscuous? Not all gay men are promiscuous. Some actually are quite loyal to their partners like my boyfriend. Now, am I promiscuous? Next question, please. Charing!

What was stupid though was that when I was young I thought that coming out would solve all my problems. Of course, it didn't. And when I came out, I stupidly thought that I would be happy if I had a steady stream of fuck buddies. In the past I would fuck myself to oblivion and would still feel this unbelievable void after being ravished by several men (huwaw several talaga ha). Naturally, I thought the solution would be having a lover. I did find one. Eventually. Someone I actually love and who also love me dearly but still happiness remained elusive. In the end, I realized that being gay was the least of my problem. In the entire scheme of things, it was just like a pink, shiny birthmark at the far side of my face. It's just something that I eventually had to get used to and, after a long, suffocating struggle, something to be proud of.

Comments

Ice said…
Hi Mario. Me again.
Not only do your journals entertain me, I learn a lot from them, too. I like your insights and points of view. Nakakatuwa. Thanks for this...
-Ice.
Very nice piece.

You're lucky you learned about being gay through writers. In my town, we didn't have a bookstore and when I was in college, I didn't have money to gay-related books.
bwisit! said…
hey ice, salamat salamat! hopefully we'll bump into each other in cubao x or in gloria jeans in cubao hehehe...

hey noble, i was fortunate enough to have a mother who encouraged me to read books (and who didn't bother to censor what i was reading). i grew up in a town in bataan. how about you? san ka lumaki?
bwisit! said…
hey ice, salamat salamat! hopefully we'll bump into each other in cubao x or in gloria jeans in cubao hehehe...

hey noble, i was fortunate enough to have a mother who encouraged me to read books (and who didn't bother to censor what i was reading). i grew up in a town in bataan. how about you? san ka lumaki?
Kat said…
Hi Kuya Mario, nakaka-aliw talaga basahin blog mo. In my case, kahit boyish na ako habang lumalaki akala ko phase lang ang lahat. Nag-research din ako, watched gay/lesbian filsm hanggang I finally accepted myself. Am I out? YES to the society. To my siblings? Of course! Kay Dad? Sa tingin ko alam nya. Kay Mom? Ganun din pero feeling ko gusto pa rin nila straight ako. Buti nalang talaga si Chay ay super mega girl. Hehe!
bwisit! said…
hi kat! kamusta na? hmmm... i dont know why but i just had the impression that you actually came out to your parents. i still remember visiting you way way back in the 80s and 90s (good god! ang tagal na pala nun!). oo nga, boyish ka nga nung bata ka pa hehehe! Talaga girly girly si Chay? Hahaha!
Ice said…
Yeah, definitely. I've been wanting to stalk you... hahah. see you one of these days... ;)
Ate Sienna said…
prenship, nakita mo na yung bagong entry ni direk jun lana tungkol sa mga screenplays?
bwisit! said…
hi ate sienna, korams nakita ko nga. sana maka-karir ng script ngayong holy week. pinagsasabi ko na nga sa mga kakilala kong writurs at baka interesado sila!!!
Ate Sienna said…
sige.. gudlak sa imo! exciting davah?
ie said…
Literature always has that soothing effect (parang lotion). Good literature that is.

Whenever I'm in deep shit, I always make it a point to go back to fiction, to poetry, or to anything that, even for a few hours, can stretch the list of possibilities lying before you.

And that pulls me through, most of the time.
bwisit! said…
that's so true! plus, i guess, movies and music! well, art (huwaw) does help us get through the day...
Anonymous said…
hey...
i heart this site na..
dude,,or can i say mare..
touching un mga writings mo..heheh

keep safe and stay pretty..
bwisit! said…
hey anonymous! salamat salamat sa pagbabasa. and yes, you can call me mare, pare, gurl, lola, lolo whatever hahaha!

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