My journey to winning the coveted Mr Gay World title was a long roller-coaster ride. Nobody told me the road would be easy, but I was up for the ride in the name of my dreams.
I grew up in a traditional Filipino family that is very conservative, and which always upheld our catholic values; to love and respect everybody. Growing up I knew I was different from my childhood playmates and my classmates at school. I have always enjoyed playing toys that are for girls and that’s why my younger sister and I would always share toys. We used to play games pretending we are in a salon, and I was the hair stylist to do her hair. I will never forget that one time we were playing that salon scene where I was trying to style her hair and while I was rolling the brush, it got stuck accidentally and tangled her long black hair. We were panicking and we did not know what to do so as little kids, we cried and our mother who was busy doing the laundry at that time came to the rescue and had no choice but to cut my sister’s hair. We were so scared that our mother was going to scold us, and yes, she did, and my sister and I both ended our day with red eyes for crying all day and thinking about the five inches of hair my sister had lost.
There were many times back in the day when I would see my mother teary eyed every time someone commented on me being different from other boys at school; soft and weak. I have never heard my mother talking back to retaliate. She would always pretend she never heard anything, but I knew how heart-breaking it was always for her when I looked her in the eyes. The unsaid pain of my mother was my motivation to do very good at school so I can clinch awards and recognition to make it up for the shaming I knew she was going through. I made sure that I was always on top of my class every year, became active at extracurricular activities, and be known to be one of the best students until I finished school. Both of our pain had humbly transformed me into a strong human being and enabled me to reach her dreams for me; to grow up loving and respectful despite no matter how cruel the world could be.
It’s just now that I am a grown up that I have come to realise how lucky I am to have the kind of shelter that my parents created for my sister and I. Despite all my challenges and peculiarity from other children, I never recall a single moment where they have held it against me being a gay kid or felt ashamed of having me as their child. They have always been so proud of me and never appealed to change my ways to fit in. They taught me that staying true to myself will be my greatest power when I grow up and that this will take me to soar high above the clouds and reach for the stars. And yes, they are absolutely right! Had they not taught me to LOVE my true authentic self-growing up and had they failed to RESPECT my truth, I would have not become the Mr Gay World that I have always dreamed of.
Truly, it is my authenticity that brought me up the clouds and turn my dreams into reality.
This is how vital parents play in the lives of children who are gay, queer, or in between. Their presence and support can either make or break the journey of a child who could potentially be the next big thing in the future. I am so thankful that my family is family because my fate would have probably changed otherwise. Everybody deserves love and respect, so we all live with dignity and pride.
I hope that all parents in the world would learn to love their children unconditionally and enable their kids to be who they dream of when they grow up.
My beautiful story with my parents is what I brought with me when I finally competed at the Mr Gay World 2020. It was something I wanted to share with the world that hopefully inspired other people and helped them understand that inclusivity started at our home through love and respect.
My reign as Mr Gay World Philippines 2020 was the longest in history with almost two years and I was the last winner that competed in a physical pageant in 2020 prior to the pandemic. After I won, I had so many plans that I wanted to do during my reign, but everything had to be held when the unforeseen pandemic had started. It was an unimaginable nightmare turned into reality that nobody in the world was prepared for. It shut down the world for a moment and so was I.
It felt like everything I worked hard for was put to waste because nobody knows how long we should hide in our homes and live in fear.
I had major anxiety and went through the darkest times in my physical and mental health.
So here I am bravely sharing my full story of transformation for the first time. I intend to create awareness on how detrimental #BodyShaming affects people’s mental and general well-being and encourage everyone to end it. Let us spread #BodyPositivity and learn to love ourselves while we have a chance.