An academic paper submitted by Nalchael Cruz
Is Rizal Gay?
De La Salle University professor and local pop-culture provocateur Isagani Cruz offered “biographical evidence” that Jose Rizal is gay: Rizal, based on Rizalist columnist Ambeth Ocampo’s claim, did not sire the unborn child of his wife Josephine Bracken. In fact, it was believed that the couple hardly shared a bed. His second reason is that Rizal refused to marry his supposedly European girlfriend Nelly Boustead, with the lame excuse that he was Catholic and she was protestant. Quite obviously, Rizal was never a firm Catholic believer. In his own writings from letters to books, Rizal also never wrote nor insinuated about sexual act, nor have the knowledge of it. And last, Rizal went along well with many of his male friends.
There have been strong contentions about the possibility that Rizal was gay. But I would like to propose, first of all, as main reason for this disagreement is about the generally negative historical view of people about gay people: that they are some sort of mutants, deprived, sexually deviants, among others. Gays are on the opposite of “normal” or generally accepted “regular-ness” of being human (Garcia, 1996).
Basically, there was the strong belief that being gay is simply wrong.
But for me, it is never wrong to be gay.
Assuming that gay is normal, that it is positive, and just is, then, I believe, it is in fact true that Jose Rizal is gay. One indication for me that he is gay is his penchant for details – decorative details about homes, and his being (supposedly) a “metrosexual” – described as “new breed of straight, urban young men who unhesitatingly drowned their bodies in raucous cologne, who obsessed about their body hair, who spent an enormous amount of time and money shopping for chic, upscale clothing, and who were not afraid to be confused with gay men,” (Queenan, through Flores, 2005, P2).
Real men, however, may not be so explicit about the things they like and share them in extensive writing as much as many gay columnists, art, or design critics would. Which Rizal did. The tendency with gay people is to express their experiences and observations about things, as one may observe inside Philippine beauty parlors, the haunt of homosexuals. One would hardly hear details about the contents of a home (Ocampo, 2005) inside a barbershop, where talks would mostly be about politics, sports, local events (Buswell, 2018). Never the detailed decorations of a home as Rizal would discuss in his letters. Some masculine men indeed talk about vintage or technical items, or describe them, but necessarily for identification or recommendatory purposes, hardly in passing as the way Rizal and many prolific design writers would.
Rizal is gay, so what?