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Wednesday, 6 February 2013


chinno bravo marquez 

My dear friend Chinno (or just Chi, coz that sounds way more fabulous) has reached the highest rank possible for a Boy Scout. In fact Chi was once named one of the Ten Outstanding Boy Scouts of the Philippines. BJ, our other shufatid (a more fabulous way of saying kapatid, or sister) and I delighted in teasing Chi endlessly about his "butch" Boy Scout past. But in truth, we were secretly proud of Chi.

Inside or outside of scouting, Chi has never been anything but himself - loud, frighteningly intelligent, charismatic, flamboyant. It was because of Chi that my love for beauty pageants became an obsession - an addiction that I have parlayed into eventually founding Mr. Gay Hong Kong.

The three of us - Chi, BJ and myself - spent many a nights laughing through Chi's re-enactment of things that happened in national jamborees. Curious adolescent boys were prone to bekbkek, we found out- and it didn't really matter whether a gay comrade was present. In fact, we suspected it was all the more fun. Chi also recalled a scout master who was particularly protective over those who were different. Scout master advised, "Whenever you feel like you're being judged for being different, give yourself a big hug and say - 'I am special, I am special.' "

That's why when I heard about the struggle that's tearing at the heart of the Boy Scouts of America, I had to laugh. On one side, you've got the BSA which is staunchly anti-gay - I mean, really? On the other side, you've got expert LGBT campaigners - many of them former Boy Scouts themselves - targeting the Scouts' corporate sponsorship. TIME Magazine reports that UPS Inc., the Intel Foundation and the Merck Company Foundation have together pulled a total of USD850,000 in response to the protest. This would never happen in the Philippines, mainly because such amount of funding is better spent feeding poor people or improving rural infrastructure - not supporting an archaic organization flagrantly promoting inequality.

This issue is so hot, even President Obama has jumped into the fray, urging the Boy Scouts to end the ban on gays.

Chi got to where he was with the Boy Scouts of the Philippines because of merit - a brash certainty that he is entitled, because he is capable. He is a leader. To the Boy Scouts of the Philippines, it had nothing to do about being straight or gay - although I suspect that Chi easily bulldozed any opposition with a charm offensive. Pinoys are just a loving lot. That sounds touchy-feely, but it's true. We're aware that every family has an LGBT member, and that's fine. And that includes the Boy Scouts of the Philippines.

The Boy Scouts of America would do well to learn the same.

Lovingly dedicated to Chi and the Flower Platoon


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