Meeting BB Gandanghari
OK, this is a long entry, and the only reason why I’m keeping it long is because it’s difficult to write about it.
It’s not like I was starstruck, that I was totally interested, or that I marked out on Rustom Padilla movies. I cannot claim to be completely free of prejudices and biases, and meeting a person who represents at least one of those prejudices is not the sudden epiphany that changes my world completely. Heck, it’s not like my whole view of the world – and my whole view of sexuality – changed, just because I met BB Gandanghari.
I may have changed my opinion of BB, but many of my prejudices still remain as I write this entry, probably in the next few days or months or even years, maybe my whole lifetime. The point, however, is to continue to struggle and resist those prejudices and accept people – one person at a time, and one judgment at a time – for who they are.
The blogger “meet-and-greet” with BB Gandanghari took place yesterday at around 5 PM at Mag:Net Café at Bonifacio High Street. I went to the venue with Marcelle; we were soon joined by Ryan, and Sha and Karla of Pinoy LGBT. Mica and Adrian soon followed. The session was organized by Philippine Online Chronicles, and Dine Racoma and Noemi Dado of FilipinaImages.com.
First, though, some random gratuitous thoughts on stuff:
I think that my picture-taking skills are an abomination, and pictures will not do justice to the commestibles. You can detect a hint of the sea in the dish, and the pasta was heavy on the seafood theme. I can’t say I liked the ham-and-cheese balls so much, but I bet they would go great with a Pale Pilsen.
Oh, and my right hand sorta gave up on me as I was helping myself to pasta.
Much as I wanted a cold beer to go with the merienda, though, I had to be a “good boy” and settle for iced tea or water. Hey, there were children present.
Waiting for BB took quite a while, but it did get me thinking about the wonderful-looking cubist-inspired paintings on the walls. I also took a wonderful shot of plates, for those who are interested in the artistic value of stacked dinnerware:
It took us a while to meet BB; while the event was scheduled for 3 PM, BB arrived at around 4:30 PM or something. Yet when she arrived, she arrived in style. Ryan was gracious enough to photograph BB when she walked – no, sashayed – onstage.
This is where I’m having problems writing this entry. The problem with having an honest opinion is that it’s almost always construed to be judgmental, but I can’t help but not associate some mental image of Rustom and Carmina Villaroel when I saw BB.
To play to a stupid pun that’s not funny at all, BB was the babae that was hugot-ized from the tadyang of Rustom.
For all intents and purposes, “Rustom” was pretty much treated in the past tense. BB is the here-and-now. BB is a woman. “BB Gandanghari” is not a publicity stunt, but a reality.
Noemi called me up and introduced me to BB as “one of the first bloggers to write about BB.” I have to admit that I was quite pensive considering that entry was, in retrospect, borderline homophobic, but I’d rather ask my questions:
What does BB feel when people assume that this is nothing more than a publicity stunt to resurrect a dead career? To BB, the exploration of your own reality translates to your profession, especially if you’re in show business. It’s not as much as a career turning “laos,” but an actress reinventing herself by exploring facets of sexuality and personality. BB is real, BB exists, and BB is the character she wants to play: she is BB Gandanghari, and she is a woman. More than that, though, BB is a human, a person, an individual.
All along, in movies like “Mistah,” “Yamashita: The Tiger’s Treasure,” “Gagay,” and “Sana, Dalawa ang Puso Ko,” was BB hidden somewhere there? BB views things this way: the body of work that preceded her “coming out” was that the character “Rustom” was being played. BB has always been there, the moment she became aware of her sexuality. This is not a psychiatric problem or an identity crisis; rather. BB Gandanghari is a resolution of a problem and a crisis. BB, who will soon be directing and acting, is here to stay.
What is BB’s view for 2010? OK, I ask showbiz questions to the likes of Mar Roxas, and I ask political questions to the likes of BB Gandanghari. While BB won’t answer the question directly, she does point out the pains of having to be discriminated against because she used a ladies room. What BB advocates, but does not expect to happen in 2010, is that when she finds her partner, the State would recognize it.
What is BB’s favorite fruit to go with white wine? The PR material says that BB loves white wine and fresh fruit, and BB was drinking what I supposed to be a flute of Chardonnay. BB loves grapes and apples with white wine.
And now, for what makes this entry too long, and difficult to write.
The picture at the left was taken with my cellphone camera when my digicam died out on me, but it’s obvious that the guy on the left looks rather defensive.
Again, I will not say that my whole view of the world changed because I met BB Gandanghari, because I broke bread with her, because she spreads a message of “Be all that you can be.” Yet a camera shows things human eyes can’t see.
What made it rather disturbing is that as much as I had fun talking to BB, I was able to change one opinion about one person. What I think, though, will not automatically translate to what I feel, and that will not be equivalent into how I act.
To say that BB completely converted me into an all-accepting beacon of tolerance and acceptance would be an exaggeration, it would be hubris. I may be able to change my opinion about BB and find her to be an interesting and cheerful person, but to say that I was a completely changed person as I left Mag:Net would be stretching it. To say that I’ve seen the light is to be dishonest and to give this all up to a glorified PR hackjob in blog entry form. I got to know more about BB, and it takes more than just one conversation with her to have a complete reversal of thoughts and opinions.
I’m straight, and I’m comfortable with my sexual orientation. In the context of this country, I belong to a majority. Things like machismo, masculine pride, and heterosexuality are part of our cultural orientation. I’m not saying we should stick with these traditions, but I’m not saying that getting rid of these traditions are an overnight affair. Like anything else in this world, we have to undo and unmake things which are way bigger than us, even if the cause will outlast us.
Worse, to say that I turned into an LGBT advocate because of BB is to be a sycophant, to be blinded a bit, to lose perspective of what counts in things. I’ve rubbed elbows with some famous names here and there, but things still demand the necessary degree of honesty to admit to yourself that your own prejudices and fears and such take more than the power of fame to completely remove. What happened in Mag:Net was a scratching of the surface, an up-close-and-personal glimpse, a conversation that turned from an enlightening discussion to starstruck photo-ops where advocacy was given up for celebrity. I don’t know, I call it like I see it. How often do you get to meet BB Gandanghari, anyway? Or how often do you get to meet someone with an alternative sexuality who can make you believe enough in it for you to be converted, or for you to be completely changed?
In the end, it’s not what’s blogged about, it’s not who speaks, it’s not where it’s held. Getting rid of homophobia and prejudice will take a heck of a lot of time, from starting that process to seeing it through and, hopefully, seeing the result of people treated in terms of their whole being. Not just in terms of gender. Not just in terms of celebrity. To accept BB is to accept BB, and changing your whole conception of things means to meet more people, to add to your pool of experiences, to be reasonable with your expectations, and to be reasonable with your realizations.
I was not starstruck, I was not a fanboy, and I probably didn’t have the most significant, life-changing experience that make me see the light. It was not useless, though; when it comes to the underlying unease I have for people who are like BB, at the very least, I took the very first step of a long, arduous process of accepting people for who they are. For BB to be that first influence counts for something; in the end, I’m proud to have met her.