We worked in the same office from April until mid-May to complete our internship and only got the chance to see each other again late August—and yes, because of this long lost friend’s invitation which I found hard to turn down.
So I agreed to be there—in a street near the Vito Cruz Station, where stood a videoke place they dubbed Prov, and a bar called Dema—“not just for some invitation,” I then thought. And among other reasons I ingeniously fabricated were: to sort out a longstanding curiosity incited by a good friend, and perhaps to amuse, by later chronicling this escapade, the people in my university who have silently pondered whether I’m lesbian or not.
We waited at Prov—my friend M., her girlfriend I., C., who’s a fresh acquaintance and myself—until seven o’clock when least half of the people who were supposed to attend actually showed up. A couple times I felt that “familiar” uneasiness; something I now imagine as the kind of concern that occurs to any person going through a new territory. Seeing lesbians outnumber straight people was strange enough for me, at least at that instant.
Perhaps my friend wanted to say, “Hey girl, welcome to queer town” with a laugh, as much as I would have loved to comment “Man! This is mine! I haven’t seen so many butches and femmes in my whole dull, dry, uneventful life. What’s this place again?”
After a moment’s talk, she gave me tap on the shoulder and pointed to a couple close to our circle, “That’s my ex,” then we both chuckled. As far my friend told me, she and I. had been together for more than a year; had lived in the same roof for some time, understood the trappings of a serious yet atypical relationship, and the many problems glued to it. Fact is, for old school moms and dads, seeing their unica hija bring a girlfriend home could mean a relational wreck, though some got by with indifference. In the case of another friend, E., who’s from a traditional Chinese family, the idea “If I’m out, I’m screwed” would actually qualify as a life verse.
People started turning up one by one—new and newer acquaintances, some seriously handsome butches, some freakishly hot femmes, and boy! It took a while before I again grasped that we were all women. A couple of minutes more, and we were already at the second floor of Dema, still waiting for the others to come, while indulging in beer, iced tea, tuna sisig, and in an endless chitchat about who’s dating who, who dumped who, about the goings on in a community where, as it seems, everyone is connected at a significant degree.
The way I said, “I’m straight,” caused a little fuss. After all, who would say that, right at the table, at such kind of bar, and in a company of honest-to-God lezzies? My friend explained—that I was there for the experience to which somebody replied, “You know, all femmes were first straight. Someday, you’d realize that butches are far better than real guys…” I told myself I wouldn’t buy it.
I broke a glass by accident, for an intermission of some sort, then the conversations went on until some of the more conservative creatures, myself included, decided to leave.
I wondered what they actually thought about me, or of my incoherent statements back at the bar. Talk about vanity. Then came one of my fancy ideas: that people of slightly different orientations (and not just sexual, mind you) tend to gather at niches where visitors might find intimidating—the intimidation later being defeated by one of their modest gestures, and for the visitors part, my part, an effort to appreciate a lifestyle both divergent and beautiful.
After a long detour at Caloocan, I finally took a bus headed home.
All femmes were first straight.
Connections at some significant degree.
The possibility of one day overtly lodging myself into these linkages—perhaps my friend from the university could explain a few things. I smiled at these thoughts and pulled out a couple of bills for my fare.
(September 27, 2007)