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Of God and Blow Jobs

I bumped into screenwriter Ramon Bayron (Abakada, Ina) and he was ecstatic to share his thoughts on our film “Ang Lihim ni Antonio” (Antonio’s Secret). He liked the existentialism of the material and all. I was surprised that Mr. Bayron liked the film despite him being very religious. And he caught me by surprise by asking a very thought-provoking question.

“Why would God be concerned with men sucking each other’s penises when there are millions of other life-threatening and earth-shaking problems in this world?”

And I paused to think about it. What’s with ejaculation that God (as supposedly represented by the church) should make a big deal about? First, it thought about it in a particular context. If such an act would create destruction of a particular family, causing pain for the wife and her children, I think God should definitely look into it. But if two responsible and educated adult men help each other into ejaculation, what does God have to do about it?

It was such an interesting perspective to probe on. But unfortunately, I can’t force myself to continue with it. I don’t believe in the Judeo-Christian God. And I have known for a fact that historically, we humans are fond of ascribing and imposing our own attributes and values to the god that we create for ourselves. Hence, such an idiosyncracy from a supposedly “god being” isn’t really a surprise.

But if you are a believer, just like my friend, it would really be interesting to think about it. “What’s really with responsible men sucking each other’s cocks that would make God (Judeo-Christian) so angry that he will condemn you to hell for all eternity?”

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Exploiting Sex

The films I have written were accused by several people to be sexually exploitative.

Fortunately, I never had any issues regarding sexual exploitation. Or using sex as a selling point of a particular material.

Sex is just like food. It is a physiological need. It’s just like clothing and fashion. It is part of our identity. And aside from these, many great things can be borne out of sex — relationship, love or even another human being.

Hence, I don’t see why it is wrong for anyone to use sex for commercial purposes unless a minor or an ignorant adult has been deceived in the whole process.

On the other hand, I do understand where these critics are coming from. They come from their religious perspective on sex: Sex is only for procreation. And sex should only be practiced between married people. That’s why using sex for commercial purposes is a violation of religious moral codes per se.

But then, the big question is, what right do these people have to impose their religious beliefs and its permutations on me or to my audience?

We own our sexuality and we have the right to purchase and consume anything that makes us enjoy it as long as we do not step on the rights of anyone.

Why I Write Gay Stories

“Thank you for speaking for us. For bringing to memory the fondest and darkest moments in my life…helping me understand myself… (and realize) that it’s ok to be me…” (Jeffrey, 25 years old)

 

This is a part of a letter from a viewer after watching the film that I wrote “Ang Lihim ni Antonio” (Antonio’s Secret). And receiving such letter is a confirmation on why I have long wanted to write stories about gay men.

 

When I was young, way back in the 80’s, the images of gay men in mainstream cinema were comic and slapstick. They were best represented by Roderick Paulate’s characterization of “Petrang Kabayo” and Dolphy’s iconic “Facifica Falayfay”. These film characters were certainly far from who I was and who I want to be as a gay man.

 

It was only before the end of the century that Filipino gay men were more accurately represented in film through “Ang Lalake sa Buhay ni Selya” (by Carlitos Siguion-Reyna) and Pusong Mamon (by Joel Lamangan). And it was just in 2002, that films started to honestly represent the angst of the urban gay men through Crisaldo Pablo’s “Duda” and “Bath house”.

 

Writing the screenplay of “Ang Lalake sa Parola” (The Man in the Lighthouse) and “Ang Lihim ni Antonio” (Antonio’s Secret) represents my sincere effort to connect to other gay men out there, to share their voice and to continuously remind our society about who we really are and why we deserve acceptance and not just tolerance. And if you’ll allow me to qualify further, what I personally demand is acceptance without compromises.

 

“Coming Out”

One quiet evening by the low tide beach of La Union, a beautiful friend of mine, Mayi Fabros, shared an interesting speculation on people who have come out with their sexuality at a young age.

For her, people who are able to admit their queer sexuality publicly at an early age tend to be unafraid to make drastic decisions in their lives way into their adulthood. In her observation “Coming out” is a test of character and determines one’s capacity to make strong decisions in life.

Thinking about it, it could also work another way. Maybe only strong-willed people are able to come out. And “coming out” is probably not for everyone as a particular strength of character is necessary to be able to accomplish it given the harsh realities some people experience after they admit their sexuality.

Either way, “coming out” for me is a complex task that primarily requires two factors: self acceptance and wisdom. And a person’s strength must be founded on these to be able to come out.

Above is a photo of Mayi, which I took when we both went to La Union. Mayi is a civic worker fighting against poverty in the Philippines.

Selling Sexuality

cruise05.jpg

(written by Lex Bonife, this article was first published in Cruise Coffee Table Book by Viva) 

Just like models and sexy stars, ordinary gay men are also peddlers of their own sexuality. 

For instance, someone who would want to attract other men in the internet should have at least any of the following images in his profile: a face picture preferably a close up; pictures revealing one’s gym-ripped biceps, abs and pectorals; photos of gifted crotches wrapped in designer under wear and of course a showcase of one’s man tools popularly known as “cock pics”. Chances are, the more images you have, the more messages you can receive. But should one prefer to do a partner search in person i.e. clubs, gyms, malls, etc., a gay man is forced to invest in fashionable clothes, gym-toned body and an attractive personality that exudes an aura of success and personal security. 

Selling sexuality is every gay man’s business. And we almost never stop doing this. It is inherent in many aspects of one’s life: career, friends and dating. The sexually attractive gay man has a greater probability of earning more money, creating a wider network of friends and obviously having more partners and more sex.  

In a broader perspective, selling one’s sexuality is a collective behavior that as emphasized earlier is not exclusive to models, actors or porn stars. It is a phenomenon interwoven in our daily lives regardless of one’s sexual preference and marital status. Women crave for their husband’s attention. Straight men crave for adoration from as many women as they can handle.  

This business is found in our everyday choice of clothes, scent, gadgets and lifestyle. It is in our choice of words, in the tone of our voices and even in our slightest gestures when communicating with people. It is rooted in our dreams, fears, hope and aspirations.   

Sigmund Freud was right all along. 

But what exactly is the purpose of selling sexuality? For one, it is about getting attention, favors and even trust from the society we interact with. We listen to beautiful people. The sexy person gets a special consideration. In advertising, we pay for what they ask us to buy. And in many instances, we even trust them to be our government leaders. Sexuality indeed is a tool of power. 

To several individuals, this behavior is also a deep source of psychological pleasure. The stares from admirers, the curious hits in your personal website, countless people asking you out for a date – all these attention could temporarily bring in self fulfillment. And such feelings of being wanted can easily overwhelm the normal and most especially the neurotic person. 

A strong sex appeal is a solid rock within the foundations of a relationship. The more attractive partner can always use his sexuality to his favor. Personal insecurity can always threaten the less attractive partner. The charming one wins the bargain with less effort. Sex appeal is indeed a strong influence in the management of intimacy and the dynamics of control between lovers.  

Every single day, we are in the business of marketing our own selves and our own sexuality. Because the truth is, life tends to be a lot easier for those with the sex appeal.