Lezbihonest: Does Charice’s sexuality really matter?
By Don Jaucian (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 25, 2013 - 12:00am
Photos of Charice dressing up "butch" have caused a firestorm of speculation.
MANILA, Philippines - Charice has been the subject of controversy for months now. First there’s the butch haircut, then the boyish clothes, an identity crisis, and now the rumored “tanan” with a contestant from The X Factor Philippines (the English equivalent of “tanan,” “elope” doesn’t give the verb enough emotional weight).
The question on people’s minds, it seems, is, “Is Charice a lesbian or not?” When just a few years ago, we were celebrating her international success, cheering her on as she’d kill it on Ellen, Oprah or Glee, today, some people are taking to social media on how disappointed they are about her recent “life choices.” A gossip columnist even wrote that the young singer has “ruined her public image,” comparing her “transition” to Aiza Seguerra’s, who ditched her cutesy Little Miss Philippines image after she outed herself. (Of course, Aiza has had a strong, consistent career ever since, belying the idea that coming out can kill a career.)
So, does Charice’s sexuality really matter? According to a recent report on PEP.PH, Charice’s own mother has practically given her permission to come out of the closet. Charice has, meanwhile, yet to comment. But let me tell you a story.
Gay bar anthems
It was Saturday night before the midterm elections at a popular gay club in Ortigas, and only a few hours after the liquor ban, with everyone in the club (including a few straight couples) all riled up after a fantastic first round of a drag show.
The DJ threw down one gay club staple after another, lining up hits from the ‘90s to the present. And then, unexpectedly, he played Charice’s Louder. I was unfamiliar with club conventions, being a person who prefers to hole up at home during the weekends, so I didn’t know if the song has had a strong dance club presence. But the Charice song hit me as a pleasant surprise. I’ve always held it as a favorite since I heard it in 2011, and there we were, at a packed gay club, approaching the chorus, and everyone was singing along.
Now, I wasn’t at all drunk, having had just a few swigs of beer, but hearing Charice at a club populated by man-flesh hungry gay guys and drag-show eager folks was surreal. The point is that Charice’s music is damn good and that her voice brings people together.
Charice’s fans, called “Chasters,” are still devoting their support for her. And a quick search of “Charice” on Twitter yields hundreds of tweets of people playing her songs. It’s the music that really matters and it’s one of the things that made us fall in love with Charice in the first place. So, lesbian or not, Charice deserves our backing. Here are a few of her songs to remind us that she’s destined for bigger things.
2010’s Pyramid was Charice’s first hint at a future of teen pop fare. Her self-titled album though was more of an international birit introduction by way of David Foster-esque showstoppers. Then she released “Infinity” in 2011, marking her transition into a more radio-friendly/earworm territory. With Louder, Charice shed her ballad-guzzling for a power pop breakthrough, something that still stays true to her story so far. The Dreamlab-backed track (the production team that has worked with Britney Spears, Selena Gomez and Nicki Minaj) mixes enough sweetness for Charice to coast through her cutesy image while promptly digging her claws into a club stomper that holds up bruised hearts and egos by dancing right through the pain and letting hearts speak louder than heads.
Narrative-wise, One Day (co-written by Nick Jonas) belongs to Charice’s international debut, but musically, it fits nicely on “Infinity.” The track brims with an eager enthusiasm to prove something and put naysayers down. “You’re gonna know who I am/I will fly high and free/It’s my fate wait and see,” Charice sings. It’s the anthem that she’s always dreamed of singing, a power pop track in the same vein as the Whitney Houston and Celine Dion ballads that she’s covered before. But this time, it’s rightly hers.
Strength is a major theme of “Infinity.” A majority of the songs on the album talk about gathering courage and moving on to better things; themes that are inherently familiar to Charice. Bounce Back could just as well be Charice’s song for the moment, throwing down all the hate and standing up after everything that she’s been through. It’s an assertion of what she deserves and her powerful delivery makes it apparent that she’s pushing all the dark clouds away for a clearer sky.
As Long As You’re There/Always You
With all the thrusts and key changes, As Long As You’re There patterns Whitney Houston calisthenics to tailor-fit Charice’s pipes. It’s one of Glee’s few original songs and it sounds like it’s specifically written with Charice’s Sunshine Corazon in mind, especially with the brazen finish at the top. On the other hand, Always You is the only original song on Charice’s second album “My Inspiration.” The song sweeps and tussles like the covers that she’s been belting out since Little Big Star, but this one distinctly pays tribute to her mom, Racquel (their duet You and Me Against the World is also on the album). And just like the Glee original, it’s songs like this where we find Charice holding out her heart to the one person who’s truly believed in her from the beginning.
Lighthouse acts like a siren’s call that calms after a long and exhausting journey. Despite the tired metaphors that run through the song (Natasha Bedingfield co-wrote the track), Lighthouse burns bright with an optimistic ray of hope that calls Charice home, reminding her that like, Jay Gatsby, there’s always a light that will never go out as long as she soldiers on. Haters be damned.
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