I remember back in my senior year of high school, our teacher made us do this project in our Arts class (what is now known in the current K-12 curriculum as MAPEH—Music, Arts, P.E., Health) where we had to create our very own wedding invitation. You know, the really fancy kind you often get in the mail when a friend or relative gets married: the promise of a romantic event made out of premium card stock or parchment and flourished with intricate design details such as embossed letters or digitally printed photographs of the bride and groom. If the couple had money to burn, you’d often get an invitation that was even made out of even more expensive materials than just plain printed card stock. Immediately after our teacher presented us with the details of our art project, I never once hesitated that my wedding invitation would feature my name next to another boy’s name.
A disclaimer before I continue with this anecdote: I have always been aware of my sexuality from a young age that I did not need to “come out” in a traditional sense to my friends and family, and thus, I was largely accepted for being true to my queer roots. And though attending a private school with a zero-tolerance policy against discrimination would be considered an advantage, there was always that petty undercurrent of ridicule spoken behind my back due to my extroverted nature. That being said, I worked hard to make my invitation the best it could possibly be; a competitive edge driving me to make sure that my “gay wedding invite” would surpass that of my heterosexual classmates. I submitted the finished product to my teacher where—to my slight surprise—she never batted an eyelash nor did she voice out any homophobic remark upon seeing that the person whom I was “to marry” in the invitation was a boy’s name. For that month’s art project, I received one of the highest marks in class.
Years after that indelible memory, I would come to grow up and face an era where gay marriage was no longer an impossible dream, but a tangible reality that someone like me could one day attain with the right man. Sadly, living in a country like the Philippines has largely prevented me from achieving the kind of happiness that many gay men and women in North America and Europe have experienced in recent years. But the meteoric rise of the internet and social media in the past decade has been crucial in keeping me well-informed of any and all news and issues concerning LGBT topics, which was instrumental in educating me that the world beyond the archipelago I lived in showed me that being gay is okay and that it was possible for me to get the civil and human rights afforded to straight people.
But despite such rainbow-colored optimism flaunted in many LGBT-friendly places, I am not that naïve to think that the community I belong to still doesn’t face negative judgment in various levels. Countries like Russia and Uganda both have a horrifying stance against homosexuals—too often based on ultra-conservative religious principles—that often becomes violent. LGBT people don’t even stand a chance if they live in the Middle East, where at the very worst, an extremist terrorist group would gladly execute gay men on camera and proudly defend their actions to the world disturbed by such blatant inhumanity. And even in highly developed countries like the United States, there is still so much hatred by Americans of different shades and shapes towards gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people that the Supreme Court’s monumental decision to approve same-sex marriage in June 2015 feels like a feeble triumph of a small battle in an epic war that has yet to be fully won.