Book: Boy Meets Boy

"Boy Meets Boy"

I was the first openly gay president of my third-grade class. I have seen men holding hands walking down the street in a big city and I have read about women getting married in a state that’s not so far away. I have found a boy I might just love, and I have not run away. I believe that I can be anyone I might want to be. All these things give me strength.

Do you ever get that feeling where you think you know where a character is going? That awful feeling that a character you care about is about to do something really bad… and stupid?

Well, when you start a novel with a “For Tony” dedication, and you introduce a character called Tony who doesn’t seem to have a lot to be very happy about… Well, you worry.

Boy Meets Boy has the Tony character as its central figure, without his story being the focus of the story. Tony doesn’t even make a lot of appearances in the novel. But at its heart, this whole thing is about him–even when Paul, our actual main character, makes you feel it isn’t.

I feel like I’m confusing you. I probably am. But this is really how I think in real life, and I wanted to get a dialogue going, so I’ll just continue on. That all right with you?

If you’re still reading, I’ll take that as a yes.

Now, the book tells the story about Paul and Noah: how they meet one fateful night, how they fall in love, how they fall apart, and how they get each other back. For someone like me who hasn’t a romantic bone in his body, this was still a great love story because of the devices used. How the two meet, how they fall apart, and how Paul wins Noah back.

At the end of it all though, I thought Boy Meets Boy would’ve worked regardless of the characters’ gender.

That’s important.

You see, David Levithan’s book doesn’t discuss the taboo of gay love head on. In his Utopian town, everyone accepts everyone. Well, most everyone. So when you think about it, Paul could be a girl, or Noah could be a girl, or they could both be girls–and it wouldn’t matter. Their love is a simple love. It’s pure. And it’s really not the point story.

And this is the part that’s genius: David Levithan sets their love story up as a way to tell a story about acceptance.

I said it before: Tony is our central character even if he’s not our main one. Because it’s through him that we actually see character growth. It’s through him that we see the journey begin and end. And even with all the toppings in this fabulous pizza of a novel, Tony is the crust that holds everything together.

At the end of the novel, I wasn’t really concerned whether or not Paul would get Noah back. I knew he would. It was that kind of a love story. What mattered more to me was that Tony would be all right in the end. Tony was who needed my concern.

Because: you know how you get the feeling that you know what’s going to happen to a character, and you don’t what that thing to happen? You really feel relief when the author sees how important it is that he survive the novel. Not because he likes the character, but because that character is the one that needs to be a symbol of hope.

Of course, I could just be talking a whole load of crap. I’m not the author, and I don’t know if this was the intent. This is how the book spoke to me. And I am open to discuss with you guys what the book means to you.

So…? Let me know at the comments below!

Book: The God Box

"The God Box"

Paul has dated Angie since middle school, and they’re good together. They have a lot of the same interests, like singing in their church choir and being active in Bible club. But when Manuel transfers to their school, Paul has to rethink his life. Manuel is the first openly gay teen anyone in their small town has ever met, and yet he says he’s also a committed Christian

Talking to Manuel makes Paul reconsider thoughts he has kept hidden, and listening to Manuel’s interpretation of Biblical passages on homosexuality causes Paul to re-evaluate everything he believed. Manuel’s outspokenness triggers dramatic consequences at school, culminating in a terrifying situation that leads Paul to take a stand.

If you’re into reading diaries, then this book is for you. Unfortunately, I’m not. That’s not to say the book wasn’t well-written. I thought it was. I still think it is. I guess I was just expecting something else.

No, I’m not going to diss the novel. Because even though I was expecting something else, and even though I didn’t like the fact that it read like a journal–I still liked what the book was trying to say.

I’ve been on the lookout for a Young Adult novel that dealt with homosexuality for a few weeks now. I haven’t kept it a secret that I’m part of GMA-7’s My Husband’s Lover, right? All right. Anyway, if you hadn’t known before, now you do.

Thing is, with worlds I’m not familiar with, I go to great lengths at getting to know said world. I did this for Bantatay before, for Futbolilits, and Indio. Now, I’m doing the same for My Husband’s Lover. And I must say, The God Box is a very enlightening novel.

Again, it reads like a diary. In my case, even if I wasn’t a fan of how the story was being told, I still think that it’s the best way of getting its point across. It helped me get into the mind of at least one gay character. Sure, he was fictional, but I don’t think the struggles that were presented in the book were. Homosexuality has always gone hand-in-hand with discrimination, and the book dealt with this topic honestly. Realistically. And that’s what I wanted to know more about.

(Last aside: I’m not limiting myself to this book to get to know more about the homosexual lifestyle. That’s just another way of stereotyping, isn’t it? I’m also talking with people, with friends, and watching films that deal with the topic.)

The God Box really does a great job of presenting the homosexual lifestyle in a religious context. It presents the confusion, the acceptance, and the fear, with great care and respect. It does a great job at presenting to a straight audience the challenges of being gay without asking for sympathy, nor does it take a high morale ground.

I really have to commend author Alex Sanchez at how he handled the topic.

I didn’t care to find out what the author’s sexual orientation is. I don’t think it should have any bearing on the final product. If Mr. Sanchez turns out to be gay, then I applaud him for not being one who makes out his characters as victims. If he’s straight, then I applaud him even more for presenting realistic characters with realistic fears.

I especially like how the main character didn’t get his questions answered in black and white. He reached a conclusion on his own. He made his decisions. And then he lived with them.

Really, The God Box is a very good novel.

Of course, you shouldn’t take just my word for it:
Guys Lit Wire
Helen’s Book Blog
The Black Sheep

Television: My Husband’s Lover

"My Husband's Lover"

What would you do if you find out that your husband is cheating on you–with another man?

This is the story of Lally Agatep-Soriano (Carla Abellana), her struggle to be the best wife for the husband she loves, and her discovery of her husband’s most kept secret. This is the story of Vincent Soriano (Tom Rodriguez), and the effort he makes in keeping his two worlds–the one with wife Lally, and the one he’s not ready to reveal to everyone–apart. And this is also the story of Eric del Mundo (Dennis Trillo), the man who will come between husband and wife.

My Husband’s Lover is not an easy story to tell.

Sure, you can say that it’s just another love story with a third party. But when have you seen a story where you empathize with the third party? Because we know where Lally is coming from, we know where she wants to go, and we don’t want her to get hurt.

Yes, Lally is the wife. But in this love story, if you read the synopsis that’s going around the ‘net, and if you watch the trailers that has been released, you’ll understand: the wife is the third party between two men who love each other.

Does that make Vincent and Eric the villains in the story? No. They’re not even antagonists. They love. And they love Lally. Well, Vincent does. To a point. And they hurt too. Because growing up, they know that many people would look at them and say that their love is wrong.

But how can love be wrong?

This is one of the question that this new show endeavors to explore beginning tonight, June 10, when GMA-7 presents the compelling stories of a wife, of her husband, and of her husband’s lover.

From the creative mind of Suzette Doctolero, with the writing team of Amaya and One True Love, the production team of The Good Daughter and Temptation of Wife, and director Dominic Zapata, My Husband’s Lover also features Kuh Ledesma, Chanda Romero, Glydel Mercado, and Mr. Roi Vinzon. Also part of the cast are Pancho Magno, Victor Basa, Kevin Santos, Bettina Carlos, Karel Marquez, and Mike Magat.

My Husband’s Lover airs weeknights, after Mundo Mo’y Akin.

Television: A Gay Dad’s life story is featured this Saturday on ‘Magpakailanman’

"Magpakailanman: Ang Tatay Kong Beki"

This Saturday on Magpakailanman, a gay man faces the limitations of his sexuality–when the mother of his adopted son threatens to take his only source of happiness away.

In the Ruben Marasigan story, Keempee de Leon portrays the life of a homosexual whose only joy stems from having adopted and raised a son all on his own. But when his son, tired from bullying at school, asks him if he could meet his mother–the one who bore him–Ruben does his best to comply to his son’s wishes.

What he didn’t know was that by inviting his son’s mother into his life, he will be opening his doors to two parasites.

His family and friends tell him to cut ties, but because of his love for his adopted son, Ruben looks past the hurt that his son’s mother inflicts.

But when he finds out that his son is being physically abused by his mother and her lover, Ruben realizes that he might have a mistake in introducing them to each other.

Will he able to take back his son from his real mother? Or will the mother’s threat to take her son away come to fruition?

Find out tonight on Magpakailanman, after Vampire ang Daddy Ko.

Movie: Slumber Party

Slumber Party

On the eve of the Ms. Universe Pageant – the boxing main event for all gays in the Philippines, three friends decide to throw a SLUMBER PARTY as part of their yearly vigil to support our representative. Mending a broken heart, Elle and Jhana consoles their friend, Phillippe, as his romance with his recent guy was tragically and abruptly nipped in the bud.

However, the supposedly fun spectacle for the three was cut-short when, Jonel, a young frat boy burgled the three lovely ladies’ castle. Afraid and petrified, they attacked the frat boy who became unconscious.

This gave the three a time to marvel at the young frat boy’s enigmatic boyish looks and amusing hot body. As they go on with their fantasies, the decision to keep the guy with arms and legs tied in the chair and hold him hostage will challenge their views on life, love and friendship all in one night.

Well that was a waste of time.

I wasn’t expecting a masterpiece, mind you–but I was, at least, looking to be entertained. And although I eventually was entertained, it happened way too late in the movie. Way, way too late.

If the movie synopsis makes you believe that there’s an actual story, don’t be fooled. Slumber Party only chronicles the night before and the day of a Miss Universe pageant for three gay guys. Problems ensue, and secrets are revealed, when a fraternity initiate is tasked to steal something from their house.

To be quite honest, the whole thing feels heavy-handed. And save for the cinematography, the whole movie has the feel of a high school project: a meandering story that tries to be funnier than it actually is, a confused narrative that doesn’t know which of its characters it’s supposed to follow, and actors who fall back on stereotype rather than make their characters original.

The only saving grace of the film is Archie Alemania’s Jhana, which is a cheeky portrayal of a flamboyant gay guy; and Nino Muhlach’s Gaymother, a character whose lines are a mile long and delivered in rapid-fire succession. Sef Cadayona gets an A for effort with his attempt at an honest portrayal of a straight guy forced into the gay world.

Ultimately though, it’s the story that really brings the whole thing down–because there’s no actual story. Each character has their own conflict, and none of them really gels–not even during the big meltdown that happens midway through the film. And even after that’s out of the way, the characters continue to harken to mistakes and sins that were already supposed to be forgiven and forgotten.

As a result, the actors don’t seem to know what exact emotional state they’re supposed to be in a scene. They ping pong through the emotional scale with wild abandon in a matter of seconds.

This film is getting no recommendations from me.