A couple of weeks ago, we were shooting Episodes 1 and 2 of Team Magazine’s landmark online series about the lives of young gay men in Manila, Hanging Out. After over ten hours of shooting, I found myself playing a game of Random Questions with some of the talented young adults we were working with. One of the questions I asked the group was: Name three things that you like about yourself. When it was my time to answer the question, I distinctly remember telling the twentysomethings that I like how I love my life and I am happy.
I am happy. I have a family who loves me, and this has been proven on countless occasions, unconditionally. I have assembled a small army of friends built on foundations of trust, respect and loyalty. I have a career that fulfills me while allowing me to have enough personal time for a passion project. I have a passion project that gives me front row access to the wonderful albeit slow progress we have in the LGBT community. As an added bonus, I set a new record of number of people I made out with in a single night: 6 guys (yay!) and 1 girl (yuck!)
With just four days before the new year, I reflected on what is happening in the world and asked myself: should I really be happy? Unbeknownst to many, I have a very high level of empathy. (I know, right?) That’s what seven years of NGO work will do to you. It will make you feel. And 2016 made me feel a lot of negative shit.
I found myself crying at work and at home on a regular basis as I watched news footage of all the horrific things that has happened in the past year – the Bastille Day terrorist attack in France, the Davao City bombings, the recent Christmas Market attack in Berlin and the tragic hate crime against LGBT people at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and the ongoing humanitarian and refugee crises in Syria and other parts of the world. (Don’t even get me started with the online political civil war in our country.) Yesterday, I made the mistake of rereading an article about gay men sending goodbye text messages to loved ones because they were sure they will die on the evil hands of the Orlando shooter (they did) and I was, again, reduced to a puddle of tears and anger and confusion and sadness.
Do I have a right to be happy when 2016 has been butt-fucking humanity bareback in the ass sans lube and foreplay? Simply put, yes. Because despite the cruel shitstorm of a year (who made an effort to take away George Michael and Princess Leia in a span of three days), there have been so many things that we ought to be thankful for this year. Go on, pause for a bit and really reflect on it. There were loads of good, amazing stuff, too – moments that leave us feeling nothing but awe. Thus I cannot help but welcome the new year with a sense of hope and a spirit of resilience that everything will be all right. Sabi nga ng internet, “Kapit lang, bes.”
I received a touching letter over the Christmas holidays from one of the talented young adults I played Random Questions with. In it, she called me a huge inspiration. It’s been a while since I’ve been called inspiring. Hence, I want to live up to her expectations and would like to end the year on a hopeful note: 2016 may have been annus horribilis but rest assured that I have seen far worse unsolicited photos of unbleached assholes on Grindr.
© 2016 Victor John Platon
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