With passion projects that give back to the ones that have sacrificed so much for the rest of us queer folk, it’s time to bestow the gift of magic and joy to the Golden Gays of Manila
We are incredibly lucky.
With safe spaces to dance in, tucked out corners to flirt at, (pre-pandemic that is), and families (both chosen and by blood) to come home to, there are infinitely more opportunities for you to live a life that is truly yours. There is no more hiding, no more shadowing, and no more denying who you really are. This is a privilege given to us by the pioneers before us who had more courage to hit significant strides just so we can fully express ourselves in the way Madonna wants us to. But as with privilege, we are so focused on the now and pigeonholed into the future that we fail to take into account how we even got to this point in the first place. In order to move forward, one must learn to at least peer over the shoulder and nod with a smile.
We are here today because of the steadfast, sparkling, and spirited souls that came before us, including the lolas from the Home of the Golden Gays. But just like with anything that dazzles, it comes with it a story the challenges to dull its shine. However, despite the name, the only truth left standing is that they are golden. A far cry from the early establishment of the non-profit organization in the mid-1970s, by LGBTQIA+ rights activist and columnist Justo Justo, his passing has prompted the forced closing of the care facility. Without families or proper income, the original members have since rented space in Pasay city to call “home,” where the lolas have to resort to sleeping in rotation or worse, seek slumber outside.
The punishing pandemic hasn’t made it any easier, because with the enforcement of lockdowns, with the Philippines having the longest one with strained results, the elderly members of the Golden Gays have been severely affected. With movements limited to what is ideally essential, the Golden Gays have been challenged in terms of livelihood. With a fraction of their typical earnings, the lolas have been surviving on the kindness of generosity from the LGBTQIA+ NGOs and community in general.
But you know what, they still smile; they put on a show; they do reach out when and where they can. Every chance they get, especially with the help of initiatives such as the Golden Christmas For The Golden Gays Christmas Project by Philippine Anti-Discrimination Alliance of Youth Leaders, (PANTAY) they are continu to tell their story for us, the relatively and full on young’uns where the love, compassion, and most importantly, solidarity is bursting at the seams. Perhaps that’s truly the most important thing to learn from them, that despite what holds you back, just counter it with undeterred passion and love. You can never, ever go wrong with something so earnest and pure.
With the undertaking by PANTAY, it is more than just a one-time effort to provide relief. Instead, the Golden Christmas For The Golden Gays Christmas Project intends to support the lolas through the pandemic through donation drives and sustainable livelihood program. In their social media posts, they write, “This project also aims to provide short-to-medium-term support to the Golden Gays of Manila through a series of campaigns and capacity building workshops.” They don’t ask for much, really. On their wishlist, which is perhaps a world of difference from our own, the lolas are looking for groceries, rice, fish canned goods, oatmeal, electric fan, multivitamins, and single bed rolls.
To further highlight and raise funds for this most worthy cause, Gerard Gotladera has repurposed his Instagram magazine and book sale (@gerardgotladera), this time for the benefit of the Golden Gays. An overwhelmingly successful social media passion project to raise funds for victims and displaced families of the recent onslaught of the typhoons, this third iteration, which is set to go live on December 18 at 6:00 P, will feature an astounding curation of prized books and items of interest by Pauline Juan and Chere Gioskos. “As a gay man myself, the fear of growing old alone, being abandoned, and not ending up with anyone is a horror that looms over me. Sometimes it’s there, sometimes it’s not. For some of us, it’s an imagined fear, a distant possibility. But for our lolas who are part of this group, it’s a fact. While they do have each other, financially they have so little to get them by,” he details on Instagram. “I am hoping you’d turn out just as enthusiastic and willing to help this Christmas cause. I want to give this gift to our lolas from Golden Gays, who could use a little magic and joy this season.”
Even if it is in the distant chasm of your heart, you can surely spare and give the lolas a space to call home. A little goes a long way (the helping never stops, people) and with everything that we’ve been accorded, it is but right to extend all the help possible to the Golden Gays, because without them having to brave the challenges and face the debilitating fears of their past, and to still blaze trails for us, they deserve all the love they have given and sacrificed, especially now that they face the twilight of their years.
Remember, while we can count on considerable strokes of luck despite the circumstances, others aren’t as fortunate. In the true spirit of the holidays and of the community that endures, it is time to make their days be merry and bright—from Christmas and beyond.
How else can you help? For monetary, in-kind, and livelihood needs of the lolas, access for donations can be done through BPI (Vince Renzo M Liban, 1999 178746), Gcash (Estevez Evangelista, 09175311295), Landbank (Vince Renzo M Liban, 0707 1702 47), PayMaya (Joel Chester Pagulayan, 09173012229), and PayPal (Estevez Evangelista, paypal.me/evangelistaem).