Sunday, February 21, 2010

Bi Beauties

A friend of mine invited me to perform with him on his birthday show/celebration, he is a PR and marketing manager for a local bathhouse who enjoys performing in drag during their events. I didn't mind doing it, I enjoy performing in drag myself, though this time I wasn't going to be one. I had to lip-sync the male part of this duet number popularized by Sarah Geronimo and Christian Bautista "Please be Careful With My Heart". I thought it was gonna be an easy job, except that I wasn't ready for the things I had to see backstage.

The show began a few seconds after the dancers got into their standby position, a couple of number passed and I patiently waited for my cue... when boom! This dark, sleazy and chubby stripper bolted out from the curtains after his performance, his huge dick flashing. He was in pain as he tried to untie the rubber band which clogged and prevented his erection from dying down. He blurted out "Ang sakit kapag matagal ka nag-intay bago ka isalang..." which meant it is painful if you waited too long before you performed. He got the rubber band off and his dick quickly deflated as he gently massaged and drained the blood back to his body . It was a bizarre scene, though everybody else didn't seem to feel the same way. This old drag back-up-dancer, dressed in what can be described as a tattered version of Beyonce's Single Ladies costume, continued talking about their show schedules as she touched up her face with make up while trying to balance a squat position, her huge ass facing towards me. To her right was another back-up-dancer trying to fix her wig after puffing up on her cigarette, her teeth showcased the dark stains which more or less describe how old she was. I was taken aback and found myself enjoying in a weird sense as I continued to observe. Later on I found out that they've been doing shows for 10 years. The thought saddened me, in my mind I questioned how many more years will they be able to do it. I tried to comfort myself into thinking that at least it is a way of living for them.

And so it was my cue, I went out on stage with a slightly different perspective on things... as I move on with this "activism" which I am into nowadays, I've become more sensitive about different LGBTI states. That experience backstage brought me to a different kind of understanding, and it stimulated me to ask more questions about the general welfare of our community. It was an example of how hard it is for others. I questioned what other opportunities they might have in order to make a living for themselves, and it dawned into me that there aren't a lot...

In another occasion, I was invited to become a judge to this pageant entitled Bi Suarez Beauties. The hosts explained that it was a pageant for bisexual discreet gay guys who can transform into beauty pageant forms as girls. It is a pretty complicated definition but I was intrigued as I tried to prove the assumption that a whole misconception about a gender label is actually being shared by many. 22 candidates strutted their asses off in the national costume, swimsuit and evening gown competition. Some were pretty and some weren't. Most of them struggled as they tried to make sense in the interview portion. Being grammatically challenged is very common to pageants in the country and for the most part, sad to say, it is somewhat integral to pageants already. Infact, it sometimes generates enormous attention, as has been the case of Janina San Miguel from Binibining Pilipinas. So it didn't bother me much. What gotten my attention was this... as the pageant went on, some candidates didn't make it to the proceeding rounds, so they got out from the backstage to watch the rest of the show. They were dressed in men's clothing but their hair and make up were intact. They didn't bother taking them out, and they walked around as if it wasn't unusual to look that way. I looked around and tried to gain any confidant from the weird feeling that I felt with what I was seeing, but I didn't find any, it seemed all too normal to the rest for them to specifically take notice. Their heads were of girls but their bodies and their clothing were of men, some even sported basketball shorts. It was like seeing a couple of Medusas walking around. But it shortly became a Eureka moment! That imagery was what I wanted to understand, it was the definition I was looking for. In front of my eyes were Bi Beauties. I understood it, that is how they call it, and I thought- "How was I supposed to argue with that?" It is not anymore a question of what bisexuality means in terms of gender preference, it was how they used the term for something which they thought was an embodiment of the imagery they projected, and it existed, and it is being shared by a whole bunch. Bisexual Beauties...

I can't help but connect this to my latest cause  fighting the stigma of HIV and AIDS- education and dissemination of information. I am now wondering how education and information will disseminate and per-mutate having the kind of understanding I got from the pageant experience. What kind of terms will come up and get used or mixed up in other ways? What kind of understanding will seep into the general consciousness with regards to the necessary information needed to gain positive reactions? Will stigma alleviate? I might be reading too much and it might be wrong to base it on this kind of analogy... (sigh)

Monday, February 15, 2010


I spearheaded a campaign for the LGBTI community called "I AM NOT IMMORAL..." Aside from getting the support of Niccolo Cosme, a renowned photographer, Team Pilipinas, an LGBTI NGO, and Francis Martin Beltran Baraan, a philanthropist who sponsored the campaign, we got 58 LGBTI and non-LGBTI individuals from different sectors to participate, including Melo Esguerra, a highly awarded broadcast journalist, Risa Hontiveros, a congresswoman vying for a senatorial slot in the 2010 Elections, and John Lapuz, a comedian and TV and Movie personality, among others. The photo and video project began on the same day as the Pride March, December 5, 2009. It was a protest action to the "immorality" statement which the Philippine Commission on Elections said about Ang Ladlad, an LGBTI political party.

An exhibit followed last January 30, 2010 and it was attended by LGBTI's from different groups and NGO's.!/album.php?aid=2046696&id=1525427943

Here are the links to the videos and photos which were exhibited.

To date, the campaign was featured by different local and international publications and websites including Manila Bulletin, Malaya newspaper, Inquirer, Philippines Star,, a Belgian website(, a Canadian website (, and the Interntional Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) among others. Here are some of the links:

After 2 weeks from being uploaded unto its youtube channel, the I AM NOT IMMORAL videos are now reaching its 2 thousand mark of number of views and has been featured in two different LGBTI forums, the UPLB LGBTI forum and the UP Kalipunan ng Mag aaral ng Sosyolohiya (KMS) forum titled: COMING OUT AND GETTING IN: UNCLOTHING WHAT IS BEHIND AND BEYOND CLOSET DOORS.

A very inspiring response from a decorated Gay Police from New York took it to a different level when he posted his own I AM NOT IMMORAL video.

Of course not all were so pleased at what this campaign had done. Ever since I started it I already encountered unfavorable reactions, and at times it was very surprising and a bit discouraging specially when it came from fellow LGBTI "activists". Now, a few questions are raised with regards to how progressive the campaign is, pointing out that it might have less of a potential to call for action amongst individuals.

It does bother me, though I know that I can only do so much... I still would say the campaign did so well for a very fragmented community. The question as to how to gather everyone and be more effective in bringing out a message remains a question and a challenge. What should we do with a community that is faced with multi-levels of issues? Is there really a unifying factor that can bring everyone together into one solid body? Which causes are more important and relevant?

It occurred to me that there is the Anti-discriminatory Bill, maybe we should all focus unto that...