3/10/2020
Man in pink

On the sidelines of last weekend's Komiket Cavite - if you were there to say hello to Shalla and maybe buy her stickers and pins, thank you! - there was this little girl who asked her mother a question.

"Bakit siya, lalaki, pero pink 'yung suot?"

She stares at him a little longer.

"'Yung nakatayo, ah, hindi 'yung nakaupo. 'Yung nasa pink na table."

Her mother did not answer. Maybe she did not hear her.

That guy in pink? That's me. I was the one manning Shalla's table (or at least her side of the table) at the time, as she went off to stretch her legs and, most likely, checked out the other artists. She happened to be there when the little girl asked her question.

Yes, I wore a pink shirt. I decided, on the second day, to wear the pink Sadaharu shirt I got from Uniqlo. I mean, what could be worse than wearing a shirt of a cartoon character to an event that celebrates art and a touch of geek culture on the side? Well, it would be me wearing a shirt of a cartoon character from a show I have never watched, although Shalla did try to convince me to try watching Gintama. Don't have the time, I'm afraid. I really just thought the shirt was cute. Sadaharu, by the way, is this big dog who somehow looks like a cat. I don't remember if it's his ability or just a character design thing. Don't ask me to explain further.

When we started dating Shalla told me that I'd look good in pink. Perhaps, I thought, but then, I didn't have any pink shirts. Why would I? I grew up around people who thought it's a mortal sin if I turned out gay. My uncles told me I should be wearing a shirt with Ara Mina's face printed on it. I was just eight, I think. My dad, furious that I was scared of a beetle flying around the house one day, made me hold it with my hand, never mind that I was bawling my eyes out. Why the fuck would I wear pink?

As it turns out, it's also because it never really suited my color preferences. I've always gone for dark or earthy colors, which may not be a good idea in a beyond-tropical city like Manila. I'll admit that I only started sort of breaking out of that shell when Shalla and I started dating. She'd tell me that I looked... worse with my preference for short haircuts and perhaps my drab clothing as well.

It took me seven years, and then some, to buy a few more white shirts and splash a bit more color on me. My first pink item of clothing was a pair of shorts I thought I could use while out and about. The first time I wore it was when I joined Shalla and her colleagues in what's a food crawl at Binondo in the middle of Chinese New Year celebrations. Well, it's arguably a food crawl: we only went to one restaurant, where we waited two hours for a table, and to get to that restaurant we spent roughly two hours walking through the almost-exclusively-Filipino crowds at Ongpin. In that crush, somehow, my pants were ripped at the pocket, and I don't think I've ever worn them since.

A year later came that Sadaharu shirt. Pink is really just a color at this point, but I still never found the right item for me to wear. Bingo - a cartoon character, a dog, from a show I have never seen. What a poser. But then, it does come in handy when I don't want to dress up, or when I have to attract the attention of Shalla's nephew.

I wore that pink shirt at Komiket not really thinking much about it. But then I took over her table, and I wondered if people think I'm Shalla. I mean, I'm manning a table that's colored pink - well, it's peach-colored cloth on top of the default black-colored cloth on top of the table she shares with a cool, funny guy named Moch. And, maybe I'm being dumb, but these things are where people who can't fully express who they really are tend to go, because art frees you and all that. But then, nobody asked, at least until the art swaps happened - that final hour on the final day when the energy just shoots up and all the artists go around swapping stickers or prints or whatever with each other - and I had to explain that, no, I'm not Shalla, and yes, she's just standing by there, in a white shirt.

And then I thought, why can girls wear blue, but boys cannot wear pink?

And your responses...

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