Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Coming Out to my own Father: Life and Comedy, Somewhat

As many people know, my dad and I have had a rocky relationship. We’ve gone from classic loving father and daddy’s boy, to practically the brink of disowning each other.

These days, though, we treat each other like human beings. Yes, we still both have our human frailties, but at our ages, it’s stupid to hang on to the bad; It is always better to stay in the good.

I had been reading some older entries in Facebook, and I stumbled across one where I linked to a Reddit thread about a man who had been disowned in a rather spectacular fashion by his own father, simply because he came out as gay (link here: https://www.reddit.com/r/atheism/comments/xspz1/5_years_ago_i_was_disowned_via_letter_when_i_came/?st=irmrzggu&sh=18b0e1b7).

My coming out is one of the reasons why no matter what, I will love my father as much as he loves me (however rocky that situation may be, haha!).

My mother, you see, had decided to tell my dad matter-of-factly that I was gay, shortly after lunch at home. I honestly don’t remember how old I was at the time, probably in my early 30s. My mother simply told me she had done it – thanks, Mom!

So, my father asked for 24 hours to process the information. Let me tell you, it was NOT the nervous waiting that most of you would think happened. I went about my day as if it were a normal one – after all, what else could I do?

A day passed, and he asked me to go out with him to the malls near our place. We had coffee in one of our favorite places. And he told me how much he loved me, in in his own way:

“Anak, I don’t care if you’re gay. But please, don’t get involved in a scandal. You have your reputation to protect. Also, find a way to have kids. It’s good to have children, even if you’re gay.”

After that, we had a few more details and questions answered back and forth about it, but it ended there.

These days, he matter-of-fact says that I am gay to his friends (gee, thanks, Dad! Hahahah!). He finds no issue with it. In fact, my partner and I live here in the ancestral house with them. He likes my partner, says he’s more respectful than I am, and he’s happy that my partner is a complement to my personality.

We’ve had some disagreements: for example, he did think that I shouldn’t share bank accounts, and that I should be prepared for an eventual separation. As time went on, however, his concern was that we should both find a way to adopt. He is, of course, partial to the idea of a surrogate mother, but would like it to be my sperm used (of course; awkward thought there).

So here we are, a straight-mannered gay guy and his dad, living life together, and getting to know each other again after many, many conflicts in life. I still have the baggage of many fights in the past, at times, and so does he. However, what is important is that we’re here, working on it together.

That’s about as good an “in the middle of the story” update as I can give on the subject of coming out. Happy endings, I believe, are only when we can finally close the book on our lives. And I don't plan on closing that book anytime soon. I look forward to many more years with my loved ones.

Thanks, Dad, for not caring if I were gay. Also, thank you for not walking into me and another guy having fun; that was Mom (Sorry, Ma!). Hahahahaha!

I love you to bits, Dad. And Mom, I love you, too, with equal measure. And I am thankful my bedroom door has a better lock now, so you just can't kick it open.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

What Lies Beneath

Observing the social media reaction-fest over what appear to be extra-judicial killings of suspected drug users and pushers here in the Philippines has, arguably, brought out the best and the worst in many people.

On one side, some people are simply reacting by saying that the ends do justify the means. On the other hand, you also have many people screaming bloody murder, particularly since due process isn’t being observed.

Behind all this, I feel, is a basic misunderstanding of the problem. It’s not about drugs. It’s about why people need drugs in the first place.

Needs and wants, supply and demand
Admittedly, I’m not a fan of bringing the issue down to poverty, for the reason that poverty is also seen as a convenient excuse for committing crimes. However, that’s just one side of the coin. It’s also true that poverty can drive one to desperate measures – such as crime.

And that interminable daily grind, that constant battle for survival, it serves as an open door to drug use. With little or no “good things” in life, it isn't surprising many of the poor decide to use illegal drugs, if only to escape their dreary life.

It does not excuse, however, their eventual giving in to the addiction, the eventual descent into crime and violence that many of them go through to feed their habit.

And as for the rich who are hooked on drugs, it’s even more complicated, and less of a sympathetic issue; after all, it is much harder to understand despair and ennui when the person suffering it is, essentially, well-off.

Whatever the case may be, the point is: something is wrong, and it isn’t just about illegal drugs or the people who are part of the criminal ecosystem for it.

It’s about addressing poverty, job opportunities, and fostering a culture where illegal drug use can be seen as a symptom of larger issues. It’s about seeing drug users not as victims, but as people who need to be rehabilitated, rather than jailed or killed (of course, this assumes that they have not done any crime that is beyond redemption).

The challenge, the real outrage is not only that extrajudicial killings are happening, but that we have to fix the very roots of our society. And even if it sounds impossible to do, we have to try. Otherwise, the divide between “bleeding hearts” and “pragmatists” will grow ever wider, and the chasm in between will be filled with dead bodies.

Before anyone asks: I am myself overwhelmed with the enormity of the idea of where to begin. But we have to stop arguing on the level of the drug trade. We must start doing something about the human condition that allows such a thing to exist.


Photo originally from this image