Nobody deserves to live their lives in fear of a difficult world—it took Pipo Gonzales three decades to grow up and get out of it, and now he’s proud to say that he is extraordinarily gay and ready to slay
I was a scared child. Throughout my childhood and up until college, my Christian upbringing defined much of my choices. I was too afraid to break out of the mold. I went to school to get good grades, and so, that pretty much influenced my attractions at a young age. I became infatuated with the smartest girl in middle school, the most talented writer in high school, and the most likable women in my six years in college.
But amidst all these genuine attractions, I have often felt the ridicule and pressures of a backward society that constantly tried to cage me in expectations. I was extremely timid, sensitive, and withdrawn on most occasions. And it was this exact set of traits that often got me called names and made fun of. People speculated about my sexuality, and there was always this pressure to prove to everyone that they were wrong.
And so, as an act of fear, I was misled to join the culture of hate. I joined the testosterone-filled drunken jeers and hung out with people who looked down on others for being different. I carried it for years thinking perhaps this was a baptism of fire I had to undergo to fully understand what I want and what I should be. It was not until I experienced the consequences of my ignorance and unbridled misogyny that I realized the impact of my actions.
The long, painstaking road to self-actualization
The path to correcting forced ideologies and unconscious habits was brutal and painstaking. I realized how often I’ve disregarded parts of me that wanted to grow simultaneously with my acknowledged attractions. I hid from the scrutinizing eyes of connections as I traversed many paths, dating both men and women back and forth. As expected, I hurt many people in the process.
I took great risks with my health back then. I had to learn how to navigate through my sexual desires, understanding the use of contraceptives and how the menstrual cycle works, and how to prevent STIs and STDs alone. I was not only scared, but I also became ashamed of my sensibilities and ultimately, lonely.
Often, people would blame their families for the depression and anxiety attached to their unfortunate stays inside the closet. I blame the world I live in.
I blame the cruel representation of my community in local television and cinema. I blame the miseducation of children with forced ignorant beliefs. I blame the culture that pressures families in cookie-cutter settings that end up irreversibly destroying nuclear relationships.
I ended up never growing close to my family because I always felt rejected by the perceptions of what every good boy should be. All I felt was resentment, hate, and eventually, indifference.
Finding my community
It wasn’t until I worked in One Mega Group when I was able to feel my best. I was interviewed and accepted by two personalities who would greatly influence me in my coming-out story. Marga Tupaz, the current EIC of Modern Parenting, was a leader who gave me a nurturing environment that judged me for my work and not my relationships. Suki Salvador, the current President of One Mega Group, was an aspirational figure who showed me that members of the LGBTQIA+ community are talented, exceptional, and extraordinary beings capable of leading and succeeding in life.
My stay in the company grew my world. The people I once feared became loyal friends and allies. I was surrounded and supported by empowered gays, lesbians, bisexuals, wielders of every colored flag you can think of. And together, we crafted amazing stories that people continue to read today. Through their brilliant examples, I became more accepting of myself and eventually, unafraid of the world we lived in.
Reconnecting with loved ones
In recent years, I have been more proactive in connecting with family members who have been supportive regardless of my difficult behavior in my entire journey. I have stood as my brother’s best man at his wedding, where he exchanged I dos with the man of his dreams. Before the pandemic hit, I was supposed to meet my younger brother (who I consider one of my best friends) in Denmark and resolved to come out to him personally. Two weeks ago, I finally held that much-awaited discussion online with siblings regarding the what once was a sensitive topic. It was heartwarming, touching, and emotionally engaging. I felt genuinely accepted and loved.
What parents can do
The world becomes a scary place for people like me when we feel ostracized by society-defined normalcy. Parents, who want to be included in these conversations with their children, are often pushed away not because of hatred but because they tend to forget that these private discussions need a high level of ease, trust, and comfort for children to be readily open with their ideas and feelings. And this needs to be earned.
Building an environment that tells your children that they are safe with you and will be protected by you is essential in having these conversations. Creating that world takes a long time and it helps to start as early as the day you start a family.
We often hear of suicides, disease, and mental health-related issues associated with a person’s fear of coming out of the closet. It is this paralyzing fear and doubt that leads the path to self-destruction. And as much as hate will continue to linger, you have the choice to rid your homes of it. Fight it through genuine acceptance and unconditional love. You need to be that person who holds that scared child’s trembling hand. Teach them to be proud and unafraid.
Looking back and remembering my journey, the timid but still sensitive boy has grown braver with conviction. I curse every person who told me my bisexuality was a mere detour to being gay. That disrespects the love that I had for all my previous relationships. I also curse those who looked at me and judged my queerness, as if it made me any less of an incredible person. Because truth be told, I AM an incredible person. While I have been attracted to both men and women, today, I consider myself gay and very proud of it.
And if tomorrow I find myself attracted to beer and donuts, I reserve the right to not care about people’s opinion because this month (and every day of the year) is worth every celebration. Cheers!