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!

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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: Bwakaw

"Bwakaw"

Rene is a gay man who came out of the closet at age 60. Ailing in his twilight years, he thinks it is now too late for love, even companionship, and that all there is to look forward to is death. Nowadays the only companion Rene has is Bwakaw, a stray dog that hangs around his house and follows him wherever he goes. As Rene waits for the day of his death, he gets the surprise of his life when it is Bwakaw who suddenly falls ill and is diagnosed with cancer. In his struggle to get Bwakaw cured, Rene finds comfort in the most unlikely person: Sol, a tricycle driver who helps him bring Bwakaw to the vet and befriends him. Buoyed by Sol’s friendship, Rene starts living. Little by little he discovers simple joys.

I took the liberty of cropping Cinemalaya’s official synopsis for Bwakaw. Why? One, because it’s too long. Two, because it reveals the entire story. Whoever is in charge of the Cinemalaya website needs a talking to. But that’s not what this post is about, so let’s move on.

If there was a coming of age movie for the elderly, that would be Bwakaw.

Seeing as the dog has the title role, people might think that the film is about Bwakaw. And it sort of is. But it is, first and foremost, the story of how a grinch-like Rene found new appreciation for life–even at the cost of his own happiness.

Story-wise, it boldly goes where few films have gone before–exploring the life unlived by a gay man who came out too late. The story is rich with characters who seem to have been plucked out from our everyday lives–but they’re given such colorful characterization that they might seem larger than life at first. And it works perfectly for the film, because these loud characters emphasizes just how quiet Rene’s life is without them.

Rene, as a character, is wonderfully layered. He’s prickly, at time’s nasty, but you can see the care he has for the people (and the dog) he surrounds himself with. He’s a very lonely man who hides his loneliness by lashing out at everyone with his acerbic tongue. And it takes one who is just as acerbic as he is to find the self that Rene wants to hide and protect. And what follows is a quiet journey for Rene towards the road of acceptance–and pushes him to start living again, not waiting for his death to come knocking.

With such heavy material, you’d think the film would feel heavy too. But it doesn’t. In fact, during the screening I went to, everyone was laughing 70% of the time!

The humor is a little dark at times, but I’ll take that any day over slapstick comedy. In fact, I would take dark humor any day over any kinds of humor, because this means Filipino writers are now willing to explore the storytelling mold further–and it also gives me hope for the future of moviegoers, with all the people laughing at the right parts.

For the technicalities, I have nothing to say except this: the film has a vibrant feel that transports you to the world of Rene and Bwakaw. I applaud the people behind the camera for their wonderful work on Bwakaw.

Catch the film at the following dates, time and venue. And I suggest you grab your tickets quick as they’re selling out fast!

July 24: 6:15PM – Tanghalang Huseng Batute (CCP)
July 25: 6:30PM – Greenbelt 3
July 26: 3:30PM – Main Theater (CCP) / 6:15PM – MKP Hall (CCP)
July 28: 1:30PM – Greenbelt 5 / 6:15PM – Little Theater (CCP)
July 29: 6:30PM – Greenbelt 5

Edited to add: Bwakaw will have a mainstream run in theaters beginning September 5.