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Joanna Carla Lisen, a former colleague and one of my dearest friends beyond the pageant sphere, gave a poignant answer during the interview portion of last Saturday’s Pacific Queen 2014 pageant. She was asked: “Would you rather be ignored or would you rather be rejected?”

She said, “To be rejected is way more painful because it stabs the very core of your self-worth. So, should I choose between the two, I’d rather be ignored. Being gay I’ve suffered all kinds of rejection everywhere—be it at work, in the society, or at home. My father could not accept me because of my sexuality. To him I was such a great disappointment because he expected a lot from me. I couldn’t blame him though, because there were things which he’d never be able to understand, for example, how I really feel about myself. I didn’t change to be someone I’m not only for him to accept me, because I believe in being true to one’s self and being the best person that one can be. I have proven to him that having a transgender child does not make him a bad parent, but ‘rejecting your own blood does and that it would be a great insult to God if you rejected His special gift that not everybody could have.’ It was never easy for me, until my father realized that we’re all in pursuit of our own happiness and this is what makes me happy. I’m very happy and proud of who I am. All’s well that ends well, because the great disappointment turned out to be a great fulfillment. Having said that, I’d rather be ignored.”

Dear Carla, you got me teary-eyed in my seat because I, too, am still experiencing rejection—not by my family, of course; but by some people—despite how far the world has evolved and no matter how gracefully we gays are trying to live our lives. And as promised, I traveled a far cry to the Pacific Mall in Mandaue City to not only show my support but also let you know how much grateful I am to you for all the support that you, too, have shown me.

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