Reds officiate first gay marriage in NPA
Posted 01:38am (Mla time) Feb 07, 2005
By Rolando B. Pinsoy
Inquirer News Service
Editor's Note: Published on page A1 of the Feb. 7, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer
DARE to struggle, dare to win ... as married gays. After raiding a few Army camps, two communist guerrillas hid in a forest gorge and fell in love.
That was three years ago. On Friday, under a romantic drizzle in a muddy clearing in Compostela Valley province in Mindanao, Ka Andres and Ka Jose exchanged vows in a heavily guarded ceremony before local villagers, friends from the city and their comrades in arms.
They are considered the first homosexual couple in the New People's Army (NPA) who were wed by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
During the "wedding," sponsors draped a sequined CPP flag around the couple's shoulders. The flag was held in place by a long, beaded cord which also went around the couple and the sponsors -- symbolizing that their marriage would be made stronger with the help of comrades and the masses.
Andres held a bullet, as did Jose and each other's hands. The bullets represented their "commitment in the armed struggle."
Throughout the ceremony, a choir serenaded them with revolutionary love songs. After they signed their "wedding contract," the newlyweds kissed amid the usual applause.
Jose recalled the day he first visited the NPA camp for his revolutionary integration -- a practice resorted to by city-based revolutionary activists before their deployment in the countryside.
This was the first time he met Andres, who was preparing audio-visual materials for a basic revolutionary education seminar.
Jose was young and had a sexist, macho attitude and thought Andres was a typical tiguwang bayot (old gay), an object of scorn and ridicule.
Andres, an education instructor in the movement, was busy with his work and did not take too much notice of Jose.
Besides, Andres already had a boyfriend. Later, the two started to discuss politics.
"I began to understand the revolution and why gays are discriminated by society," Jose said in an interview.
Started as friends
When Jose's integration program ended, he decided to join the NPA. It was Andres who accompanied him to the armed unit -- his first assignment.
They met several times during education training. At the start, it was purely a comradely interaction. Later, it became romantic.
"I realized he was caring and malambing (affectionate). He would never leave me in times of difficulty," Jose said.
Andres recalled when they both got separated from their comrades on their way to get supplies. It was raining and Andres spent the night alone in the forest without provisions. The following day, he ran into Jose, who had also spent the night in the woods, looking for him.
Jose once confided to Andres that sometimes, he would find himself attracted to female comrades.
"I don't get jealous. Even if we are away from each other for months because of the nature of our respective works. I trust him," Andres said.
Neither is their age gap an issue. Jose is 21 while Andres is 54. They call each other "sweetheart."
"Andres helps me overcome the challenges and to become strong politically and ideologically," Jose said.
When the couple realized they were falling in love, they immediately sought the approval of their respective "collective" or cell unit.
It is the collective's responsibility to foster a strong relationship within the group and members are assessed every four months.
First gay marriage
As the first same-sex marriage in the NPA, theirs is a union long awaited by comrades who support gay rights in the movement. It is also a manifestation of the communist movement's recognition of the right to engage in gay relations and to marry.
Although the CPP already recognized gay relations and same-sex marriage, it was not easy for Andres and Jose to make the decision to finally marry.
First, the couple worked hard to change the traditional mind-set of some comrades regarding gays and gay relationships. They attributed these biases to the prevailing "patriarchal" culture in Philippine society.
On gay relations
"[We] conducted painstaking discussions to make comrades understand gay relations and gay rights," Andres said.
"Gay cadres adhere to the strong Party discipline. They enhance the prestige of gays in the movement. This has gained positive results through the years. Comrades (male and female) and even the masses have learned to respect and recognize gays and their contribution to the revolution," he said.
As early as 1995, the CPP's Southern Mindanao Regional Party Committee started to discuss gay rights in the movement.
In 1998, a provision on gay relations and same-sex marriage was added to the CPP's guiding policy on relations contained in a document titled "On the Proletarian Relationship of Sexes (OPRS)."
Under the OPRS, the communist movement is committed to guide and ensure there is no exploitation in any relationship-heterosexual or homosexual.
What about kids?
During the wedding ceremony, comrades asked Jose -- in jest -- if Andres could sexually satisfy him.
"If there is love, everything follows, including sexual satisfaction," Jose confessed.
The couple was also asked if they planned to have kids.
The newlyweds said they would deal with the issue later.
"What we have to do now -- with the help of the Party -- is to work on our marriage and to be strong while serving the people," Jose said.