When a little boy grows up and wears a gown for art and advocacy

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By Kathy Car

Plonky Talk

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


TO set things straight, I asked them if they are gay. Dennis said, “People assume that I am because I’m an actor and someone who loves art and literature, but no, I’m not gay.” Arthur simply said no. As for Dan, this is what he has to say, “Nope. Haha.”

Yes, that’s right dearies. The beautiful “ladies” wearing gowns in the picture are physically and psychologically men. They earned the respect of the cast and directors of the recently staged Pagbantog VDAY’s performance of internationally acclaimed, “The Vagina Monologues” and “A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer” for successfully playing transgender roles. Their performance was one of the most applauded in the show.

At first I could not understand why they would do that. Dennis explained, “It wasn’t really my decision to make. (Laughs.) Back during the auditions, Mimai (Director Maia Poblete) asked me if I was willing to portray a transgender character, and I was totally up for it. I love challenges (as an actor). So I had thought that wearing a gown would be imminent. I mean, as an actor, I do what is asked of me and I think it was more appropriate and would be more appealing if I were in a gown.”

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Arthur said, “I decided to wear a gown because it's a theater play and the director said to wear a gown, so I did as an actor.”

Dan, on the other hand, wasn’t prepared for it. “Honestly, I had not been keen on putting on a gown for the show especially because it was my first time to be part of a theatre production ever. Haha. I had to do it out of necessity due to unpredicted circumstances within the cast. But it pleasantly developed into an enlightening experience on so many levels.”

As a parent, I was really curious on what their parents’ thought of what they were about to do.

Dennis said, “Honestly, I chose not to tell them—but they know I act and had been involved in theater way back in high school. After the first run, my younger brother shared my friend’s photo of me in my “Denise” tranny alter ego stating that he ‘regrets that we’re not able to watch it’ since they’re in Bacolod. I’m sure my parents have seen the photo, but I haven’t received any reactions from them. I’m guessing they’ll tease me about it when I fly back to Bacolod this Holy Week. (Laughs.)”

Arthur told his parents, who became excited when he told them he would be doing it for the first time. Dan, on the other hand, thinks that his parents were not the most liberal of people so he chose not to inform them. He simply told them that he had important roles to play in the show.

But now, the word is out. And more than that, the pictures are out. Fellow cast members have posted their gorgeous pictures on Facebook and tagged them. I asked Dan if he were worried his friends would make fun of him. He replied, “I guess I wasn’t because knowing my friends, they’ll grab every opportunity to make fun of me even when I’m wearing my usual clothes. Haha Interestingly, most of them complimented the dress I wore during my first night of being a full on woman.”

As to the effect of his wearing women’s clothes and his chances in courting a girl, Dennis said, “I haven’t actually thought about that. But I guess it would be a funny thing to tell to a girl, ‘Hey there, I wore a gown once and looked so pretty, I guess we have two things in common.’ That would totally be a laugh. And girls love funny guys. Kidding aside, I don’t think it has any huge factor in courting a girl. Unless, she would find it intimidating that you’re prettier than her as a girl. (Laughs.)”

And in case their future kids would see a picture of them in their lovely gowns, Dennis has this to say, “I’ll simply tell them that their dad believe strongly in equality and it was a great way to share it to the world. I would help them understand that gender is a spectrum and it has nothing to do with who you are or who you want to be. But I suppose by then, the LGBT community would be already part of the social norm, seeing how society at the present has become more tolerable with “foreigners.” Who knows what sex my partner will have in the future…we can’t always tell.”

Arthur would say to this to his offspring, “I'll tell them that I am an actor and the play owns me. When they say I'll wear a gown for the play I will do it because a good actor does not complain, rather actors portray their roles as perfect as they can.”

Dan would tell his kids, “I’ll tell them I was born female and that that was me before the surgery. Just kidding. I’d tell them that that was me putting on women’s clothing because I was making a stand; that I was advocating equality and acceptance in an artistic, theatrical fashion. Being the liberal, progressive, egalitarian and self-proclaimed feminist that I am, I’d tell my future kids to love their fellows no matter how different or nonconformist they may seem within society for as long as they are decent human beings. I’d encourage them to be advocates of a noble cause in whichever way they can.”

Dearies, Pagbantog VDAY is a group of Kagay-anons who share the same advocacy: seeing an end to violence against women, children, and LGBT members.
V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls that raises funds and awareness through benefit productions of Playwright/Founder Eve Ensler’s award winning play “The Vagina Monologues” and other artistic works. These V-Day benefit events organized by volunteer activists take place around the world, educating millions of people about the reality of violence against women and girls. Pagbantog VDAY might stage another show within the year.

Cheers to men who are man enough to wear a gown for art and advocacy!

[Email me at plonkytalk@gmail.com or like my FB page: https://www.facebook.com/PlonkyTalk or check my blog posts athttp://plonkytalk.com]

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on March 25, 2015.

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