Jerry Gracio’s Bagay
Tayo

Gaia Mauricio
4 min readMay 13, 2021

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The concept of the phrase “Sana All” is probably known by every single Filipino my age. The meaning, the feeling, the yearning, and the stories that bring it on are almost second nature to Filipino readers everywhere. It is an interesting thing to think about further. A single snapshot of a person’s love, a tiny narrative specific to the storyteller, and suddenly it evokes a universal, almost unifying reaction from the listeners. Jerry Gracio’s little vignettes are, for the lack of a better term, adorable. Seeing his name under the title reminded me of the first time I’d ever heard him speak about his writing process. I’d no idea who he was before that, I think I was the only one in that forum who didn’t know his background. When he began speaking, however, his words radiated a kind of love that made me feel familiarity regardless. He has an ability to not just tell stories to his readers, but to have his readers together with him in a small, comforting, welcoming space. Very fitting how this kind of presence writes about love and warmth. In times where, even now, the very existence of love from an accomplished, queer writer is met with discrimination and oppression, this kind of writing, intentional or not, is a great treasure for young LGBTQ+ readers in need of a space of love and familiarity. Gracio’s writing may not be specifically drafted with these mechanisms of love in mind, but they certainly did reflect them to me. And so, I thought it would be fun to try and change my own writing style to analyze the text in terms of love.

The most noticeable thing about the stories for me were their lengths and structures. In a literal sense, they were short and sweet. There was a mention in the story “Kuwento” that stories are engaging and enjoyable because they can be told over and over, not necessarily because of technical criteria. Gracio’s writing is comprehensive to readers instead of exclusionary for the sake of intellectual brownie points. It may just be me reading too much into it, but there’s something comforting knowing the writer loves their readers more than anything that the entire structure of the text is for the sake of their ease. Honestly, this is probably a stretch, but the fact that Gracio called back to this way of engaging readers in the story itself simply reminded me of all the different texts that have been far too elitist, or detached, or even just incomprehensible despite their salient points or interesting stories. There’s a reason readers lose their love for reading a text, and it could be because it was never reciprocated. Awit.

To address the content of the little tales themselves, Gracio’s love for the memories themselves radiate through every word. Using illustrative description, he chooses to recount the memories through glimpses of places, a certain bench, one poignant feeling, etc. This is what he was referring to as the way to tell stories engagingly over and over again. I had my interest piqued by this mysterious new man, and so I immediately read the next stories looking for answers. When his backstory had been revealed, I wanted to reread the previous story with the new context. Gracio keeps his memories personal and detailed where he remembers. He does not give a narrative from A to B in a straight line, rather he focuses on point A or B according to how he values each part of his life. He details every single corner of that rundown theatre, why he was going to it at that specific time, and what was showing because that’s what he remembers set off those wonderful 13 years with his partner. He details his partner’s mannerisms, backstory, the way he would pay attention to his partner’s scar every night because those memories are those of love that has lasted through his life.

It is an extremely freeing sign of love for these queer stories of vulnerability, strength, and life in general to be told as normally as a simple conversational anecdote between the readers and the writer. There’s a term “bury your gays” which refers to the depiction of gay or queer characters in media almost exclusively going through suffering. While usually associated with TV, and a concept not specific to our country and culture’s context, it cannot be denied that the media representation of LGBTQ+ characters through the years has not been plentiful, nor has all of it been sensitive or informative. There are standouts, but the standard remains in need of improvement. Media depicting queer characters as the butt of jokes, belittling their identity or orientation into “funny joke about a man being effeminate and flamboyantly sexual towards other men,” and even songs invalidating homosexual attraction by implying that there will be a “right one” to come and set someone’s to be straight. Censorship in media prevents openly sexual and romantic acts between queer characters to be nearly as accepted or even seen as that of heteroseual romances and relationships, with media opting to hide, take back, queerbait, bury any sight of happy queer people living as most cisgender, heterosexual individuals live and love. Gracio’s story was a welcome break from the constant reminder of the suffering many queer people go through for just loving openly. There are media depictions of the struggle LGBTQ+ must endure to fight for their rights, identities, and attractions, and there is value in showing what love looks like in the movement. However, queer readers deserve to be seen in life just as much, especially when the very existence as an out queer person is almost already a form of protest; normal living is more of a luxury to many young LGBTQ+ members. Seeing the candid moments of quiet, the very same softness we have all seen in the teleseryes and movies for a queer couple might just be the warmest instance of love to be felt from reading.

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Gaia Mauricio

i’m just gonna use this to keep animating gifs for my pfp pls look away