Monday, June 27, 2011

Just Another Magic Monday: Magicians Are Gay

.:Just Another Magic Monday: Magicians Are Gay:.

So I kinda missed writing about being a magician in the Philippines after that Project 365 in 2010. Don't mind me, I just figured that now is a good times as any to kickstart that tradition. Maybe I'll abbreviate this into JAMM or something. I dunno. It's the first time I'm writing like this. Bear with me.

Having said that, this means that I will probably move my Project 52 to a different day, maybe Tuesdays or Sundays, to accommodate Magic Mondays. I do like writing about music, so yeah, definitely not going to leave that project behind.

And of course, by "magic," I don't mean the card game. While I do write about M:TG every now and then, I certainly don't write about it on a regular enough basis to consider doing it weekly, especially since I don't even play the game nearly as much as I used to about a year or so ago.

But I digress.

In the past few months, I've felt less and less bristled whenever the terms "magician" and "mentalist" have been used interchangeably, and I believe it has a lot to do with the fact that between being asked to talk to the dead or to pretend I have superpowers, I'd rather have people just assume that what I do is a trick. I was never fond of being given responsibility over the lives of other people, or whatnot. I do what I do to entertain. Is there anything deeper beyond that? Sure, maybe. But I won't take responsibility over something I have no business being responsible over.

So I'm a Philippine magician, and I'm a Philippine mentalist. Are they the same thing? In that they're both entertainers who make the impossible seem possible, yes. In terms of methodology and internal logic? Not quite. If you'd be very technical about it, all mentalists are magicians, but not all magicians are mentalists. Despite that, it sometimes feels important to remind people of the magician roots of a mentalist because otherwise, they might give them more credit than they are due, and that's when the trouble begins.

Our sole responsibility, in my book, is to entertain people. I guess sometimes, people feel compelled to do more beyond that, which is well and good, within reasonable limits. That's also why I got into standup comedy, although that's still well within the realm of entertainment. I wanted to be able to amuse my audiences in two distinct ways, and given my brand of comedy, even give them some food for thought after my act, whether through my magic and mentalism or through my comedic stylings.

Which reminds me of a friend of mine, who also does comedy and magic, JB. He used to have this joke about magicians being gay, because of the way they gesticulate whenever they perform. And then, it reminded me of the fact that today happens to be Gay Pride day, and as a self-professed ally of the LGBT community, I certainly want to show my solidarity with them.

I think back to the standouts among my friends who just happen to be gay, and JB's joke takes on a new meaning to me when I look at it through those lens. It's a joke that originally preys on gay stereotypes, but when I think more about it, magicians do have a lot in common with gay people, both positive and negative, particularly in Philippine society.

In saying this, I definitely don't mean to belittle whatever challenges the gay community may be going through, but there certainly are parallels, especially when you consider how easy it is for magicians and gay people to have precisely being a magician or being gay as the only thing that defines them. Which is kinda sad, but in the case of most magicians, it's their own fault.

When I started out doing magic, I really did everything I could to let people know I'm a magician. I performed at the drop of a hat. I crashed tables and did street magic just because I can. It took me about a couple of years before I realized that maybe reigning it all in a bit would be better for me and for my career and sanity. I was right.

Five years since I went pro/semi-pro, I'm no longer known just as "that magic guy," or "that fork-bending mentalist." I let my other facets speak for themselves, positive or negative as they may be. People know I write, I talk politics, I support causes, I do magic, I do mentalism, I do comedy, I do radio, hosting, and all those multiple aspects that make up who I am. I am all of those at the same time, and being a magician alone does not define my entire being.

Neither should being gay. Or being straight, for that matter.

We only call attention to one's sexual orientation because it's different from us. In doing so, even the most well-meaning of people, who probably don't even think they have a single gay-unfriendly (I don't think the term "homophobic" is apt here.) bone in their body, could often just put someone in the "gay" box and not realize anything else about them.

Gay people come from all walks of life. Not all of them cut your hair. Not all of them are fluent in Swardspeak. There's more to them, much much more, than just their orientation, which shouldn't even be an issue any which way, to begin with (Unless you wanted to date them.).

Think about the closest person to you who happens to be gay. Do you think that's the only reason they're close to you? Obviously not, just in the same way that you're not close to anyone solely because they're straight.

Most magicians have willingly shoehorned themselves as "that magic guy" for many reasons. I have a hard time believing the same goes for gay people, though, because let's face it, straight people don't obsess over their own orientation, either.

To an extent, when I think back to how many people looked down on me because I'm a magician, I see how gay people are also very familiar with being marginalized, although with more drastic symptoms, in their case. These little things that make me consider them more, makes me realize that indeed, though the magnitude and the necessity of the situations are nowhere nearly the same, magicians and gay people simply strive for acceptance in this day and age.

As an ally of the LGBT cause, I am one with you in celebrating Pride Day.

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