Evan, in his own words: “Being gay just means being attracted to people of the same sex. That’s it. Everything else — the circles we’re in, the places we go to, the products and services we use, the people we support — these are just incidental things that do not define the LGBT community. My personal journey though as part of the community has exposed me to the unique challenges here in the Philippines. Being gay drives me to shatter stereotypes and fight for rights that we deserve as citizens of the country.
Experiencing discrimination and not enjoying the same rights as straight people do is one of the big challenges I face as a gay man. Like getting married for example. Or being told that I’m bad.
Professionally, I am lucky to have a respectable position in a multinational tech company that supports equality and provides equal opportunities to the LGBT community.
At first I refused to identify as gay, partly because I found the whole label limiting. I had a long coming-out process as I struggled with feelings that I did not fully understand. I was scared to be pigeonholed and stereotyped. Eventually I started telling my friends about being gay. It became an open secret until it wasn’t much of a secret anymore.
Last year was a big breakthrough as a big brand here in the Philippines interviewed Filipino LGBT people, and I got to be part of it. I guess I could say that there was no way to hide it anymore. And it felt good that people treated me the same way after. My coming out fears, it turned out, were all in my head.
There’s still a struggle for acceptance and it drives a lot of people to fear identifying as LGBT. It’s a crazy catch-22 situation: people don’t identify as gay or lesbian or trans or bisexual because they don’t want to be discriminated and stereotyped, but LGBT people continue to be discriminated and stereotyped because we don’t see a lot of diversity. Different LGBT people remain invisible.
That’s changing though. We’re becoming more open and people are shattering misconceptions slowly. We’re fighting against the system, the false images painted by the media. Straight people are starting to realize we’re just like everyone else, that we have the same dreams, aspirations, wishes, and fears as everyone else. We just really want to be loved and to love.
(Advice I’d give my younger self) Believe in the love that people give you. Trust that those who truly love you will love you for being who you are and for being honest with your self. Be kinder and gentler to your self. You don’t have to fit in the images being projected on you. You can be who you are, and yeah, that’s awesome.”