Friday, January 30, 2009

Rustom, aka Bebe Gandanghari, Talks About Gay Rights

Many years ago he was famous as Rustom Padilla. He was one of a brood of actor brothers, famous in his own right. He was also married to an actress, Carmina Villaroel. In 2002 he left for the U.S. to study film. At the same time he reflected on his life and began to grow in understanding and conviction until one day he decides to come out and in his own words, “accept who I am.”

This was Rustom Padilla then and Bebe Gandanghari today. What went through Rustom’s mind, heart and soul during those trying times when he said, “Nagpanggap din ako,” (I pretended too) until he finally decided to come out and declare to all and sundry who he really is, is the subject of this AHRC interview.

Bebe’s insight into his own process of coming out and acceptance is fundamental to an understanding of gay rights. Even according to Bebe, his identity is not a choice but a gradual acceptance of an orientation which did not happen overnight. Every part of the process of awareness, acceptance and coming out is not to be taken simplistically and dismissively.

Giving voice to one’s person is not an issue among typical male and female members of society We hear them all the time, a male or a female doctor, a female or a male lawyer, a priest or a nun, etc. Gay’s do speak but in certain societies in hush tones and hidden corners. Indeed, there are Asian societies where their voices are considered a public disturbance. Bebe explains how different his experience is among Filipinos, women in particular. “For some reason they seem to like me and even identify with me,” explains Bebe. Why do they like her? What do they exactly like about her?

Notwithstanding some unfavourable past experiences with some family members, colleagues and others, Bebe finds Philippine society not that bad. However, she really felt free and encouraged to come out when he was in the U.S. Coming to voice is easier in a less judgmental and open society.

Bebe’s coming out is not a purely psycho-emotional experience. “It is more, ” he explains.”It is being able to stand naked before God…being able to be yourself before God,” she adds. “Be as you are…be as you are supposed to be…that is what BeBe means,” she explains.

Listening to one gay person, allowing her to speak, to come to voice is fundamental to understanding gay rights. Fr. Robert Reyes, explains that his previous judgmental and homophobic attitude towards gay was only corrected, perhaps somehow cured through actual and particular encounters with gays. Avoidance, ignoring, rejection simply promotes the prejudice and the unwillingness to understand, accept and ultimately respect gays as persons with rights like everyone else.

About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

Bebe Gandanghari - The Buzz true confession

Enjoy Life, Be Free!

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