I have always had exposure to the LGBTQ+ community. I have LGBTQ+ friends and family members, my school does not discriminate against anyone from coming to learn and is openly supportive, and my parents did not shy away from making me aware that people could change their gender or love anyone they chose. However, in my first year of middle school, when I finally began to question if I was entirely straight, I found myself totally alone.
I was raised as a female until I came out to my family as transgender when I was a teenager, and although my parents instilled in my siblings and I a strong sense of agency, society instilled in me the belief that my pain was not to be taken seriously. Any outburst of emotion was to be seen as merely hysteria, and if something were to happen to me, the first question should be what did she do to deserve it? This was reinforced by comments such as “That’s the kind of outfit girls get raped in,” made by my grandfather in reference to a high school girl, and questions like “Are you on your period?” or “Have you taken your medication?” whenever I expressed strong emotions.
Everywhere we go, it is not difficult to hear and read messages about the importance of loving yourself. We turn on our Instagram and right beside a cute photo, we see something like: “you can’t love others if you can’t love yourself first” and many others similar quotes. When you’re someone different from the majority, it becomes a little trickier than that: to accept and love all the aspects of what makes you, you. That happened to me, and it is still happening.
Last month my friend Rose came to visit. In between our Acai bowls and downward- facing dogs, catching up on life, Rose confessed she had been seeing an escort in Perth. I nearly rolled sideways off my mat. Okay, so, some things about Rose before we delve deeper: – she describes herself as a ‘lipstick lesbian’, a ‘femme’ who is attracted to other very feminine women. When Rose told me she has been frequenting an escort who provides lesbian services,I had to know why.
My days usually start off like any regular person. I shower, brush my teeth, eat breakfast, and clean. Well, I don’t always clean. I am one of the most laziest person on earth, if not THE laziest. That is until I transform into a Drag Queen. Every single step is so magical. The wig makes me feel like a complete women, the makeup makes me feel beautiful, my shimmering costumes make me feel fierce, my nails make me feel powerful, and my heels make me feel like the baddest queen on earth.
Growing up as a gay man in a religious country like the Philippines, I consider it a struggle to conform to my country’s expectations to avoid being discriminated. Despite the emerging number of people who are tolerant enough to accept my orientation and the vast exposure of LGBT celebrities in the media, bigotry still exists within the confines of Philippine society to this day.
I’ve started with the dictionary definition of camp not so much for what it does say but rather for what it doesn’t. You will notice straight away that it doesn’t say gay, some definitions may say that that style is favoured by some in the gay community but it doesn’t mean gay. The reason I mention that is because I have had many conversations with people and even been disciplined in work for describing things as camp and people insist on telling me that this is me bringing gayness into everything.