No longer in a cocoon
To accept what you really are is to embrace trials.
It’s 2018 but I still vividly remember one of my favorite made-for-TV movies, “Prayers for Bobby” (2009), a story of a teenage boy who jumped off a bridge to his death because his family could not accept his gender orientation. It’s a tragic narrative of a boy who tried to fit his worth in this seemingly monotonous world. Little did I know that my life would turn out similar to Bobby’s story.
Just like Bobby, I know I am different, in that the things I like do not match what a typical boy likes. Different from what others see me (a broad and masculine guy), different from what my mother desires me to be (just like my father), and different from what the world wants me to be (“normal”).
Growing up, I was always the subject of bullying, rejection, and disappointment. It seems that my gender preference is a placard that looms over my head wherever I go — disgusting and unacceptable for others. Yet, after all these misjudgments that I have endured, I still learned lessons that kept pushing me to move upward.
First, I have learned that self-acceptance is the key to overcoming who you are as an individual. Just like everybody else, it was not easy for me to accept who I am because since I was young, I have known that homosexuality is taboo in our family.
It felt like being forced to eat all the vegetables even though I hated the stuff so much. It felt like enduring all those elegant size 7 shoes with 5-inch heels on my giant feet, which were swelling.
Gradually, after reading research studies, books and novels written by David Levithan on homosexuality and self-acceptance, I have realized that if I want other people to embrace who I am, I must first accept who I really am.
In an interview with Boy Abunda in 2013, the 25-year-old international singer Charice Pempengco, now known as Jake Zyrus, revealed that she was breaking her shell after hiding in it for a long time.
Jake Zyrus is truly an example of a strong individual who compromised his fame just to live outside the confines of confusion and regret.
Second, I have learned to become independent and to handle things alone. There was a time when someone told me that no one would stay with me, that everyone would leave me hanging.
It dawned on me then that I needed to become self-reliant. Since some people cannot fully understand who I am, I do not depend on them for my decisions. But even if it is so frustrating to know that not all people will be on my side come crunch time, I remain optimistic and believe in myself to handle every situation.
Lastly, I have learned that being different is okay. I do not have to fit myself in any circle just to prove my worth. I have realized that choosing the rainbow instead of picking just one color is okay.
Watching beauty pageants instead of playing basketball just like any other boy does not mean that I am mediocre. I am more into writing sports articles than actually performing those sports.
Enjoying music by Rihanna, Ariana Grande, and Beyoncé instead of Metallica, AC/DC, and rock music does not mean that I hate those other genres.
I have realized that choosing what you really love is the best decision you could ever make for yourself, and it won’t lessen your worth as a person.
Last March 21, I attended a seminar on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender psychology at our university. It helped me understand myself more, and also how to handle criticism and discrimination from other people.
When I asked the resource speaker, Mary Ann Porteguez, during the Q&A portion about what she could advise those who are still afraid to break out of their shells, she replied with tears in her eyes: “It’s so hard to answer your question knowing that I have a friend who is still afraid to come out from who she is. I would like to tell them that it is safe to be brave. Some people may not accept you, or they will leave you because of what you are, but someone will come and will embrace you for what you are.”
Truly, it is not easy to come out of your shell because some persons might think you’re an ugly duckling. Some would say you can’t achieve anything because of your gender orientation.
These people may come in all faces and forms — your classmates, your teachers, your neighbors, or even your family members, so you have to be dauntless in protecting yourself from harm.
To all the Bobbys out there who are filled with confusion and questions, start with accepting yourself. Always remember that becoming what you really are will not dictate your fate or make you a lesser person.
I cannot promise that it will be a smooth journey, but eventually all the fights and conflicts will be worth it.
While writing this piece, I am concerned that my family members would be shocked, or angry. I know that this is not what they expected me to become, or maybe they will knock me out, just like what other people have done to me.
But I am ready to face them. As in the song from the movie “The Greatest Showman,” I’ll be brave as I sing the last lines: “I’m not scared to be seen,/ I make no apology./ This is me.”
* * *
Mike A. Vertudazo, 19, is sports editor of The Defender, the official student publication of Bataan Peninsula State University-Balanga Campus.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.