“I tried to change
Closed my mouth more
Tried to be soft, prettier
Fasted for 60 days
Abstained from mirrors
Abstained from sex
Slowly did not speak another word
And that time my hair grew past my ankles
I slept on a mat on the floor
I swallowed a sword
Into the basement
Confessed my sins
And was baptized in a river
Got on my knees and said, “Amen”
And said, “I mean”
I whipped my own back
And asked for dominion at your feet
I threw myself into a volcano
I drank the blood and drank the wine
I sat alone in begged and bent at the waist for God
I crossed myself and thought
I saw the devil
I grew thickened skin on my feet
I bathed in bleach
And plugged my menses with the pages from the holy book
But still inside me coiled deep was the need to know
Are you cheating on me?”
–Denial, Lemonade (Beyoncé)
Photography by Teegee Villanueva.
Look at my closet
see the trinkets?
my rings, the bling
and my appetite
for men who trawl
the intersections at 4
or when the moon
wets the skin
between my thighs
Look at my husband
emulated by the soldier
worshipped by the throng
by the God-man
who weeps for his soul
And look at me
Plain Jane with an apron
and a miscarriage
on the way
–words by Teegee Villanueva
Being gay and in a relationship isn’t easy in this city, where, in spire of the fact that segments of the larger population are accepting of same-sex partnerships as part of the norm, some of us prefer to “grow together” as couples in relative privacy. As in: locked away in a room or a lodging house, afraid to be found out.
My partner and I are discreet. We don’t ever talk about “us” to our friends. We pretend to lead separate, single lives, and we meet occasionally in secret–once, or twice every other week at home or somewhere chary. We bond, fight, laugh, gorge on gossip rags, and dissect our friends’ Facebook status updates like ladies who tea.
I understand same-sex relationships collapse largely because one partner prefers to keep the arrangement hush hush (in the closet). But we survive–we cope. Or we try to. We cook and we clean after ourselves but I worry all the same. I do not want to stay discreet forever, it’s not healthy and it’s not a lifestyle I espouse; I’ve been open about relationships, and my sexuality in particular, for as long as I can remember.
I just want to kiss and cuddle him in public I guess, wave him around like a flag, and the throng can stare for as long as they’d like. There is nothing strange or unbecoming when two men (two consulting adults mind you) elect to express their love for each other publicly.
Please make no distinction between heterosexual and homosexual relationships. Love is love.
I like to write poetry. I enjoy the process immensely. Waking up to a good day, heady, and full of ideas. It takes a while to put pen to paper, to paint images with words, like a master portraitist. But I get there eventually with a little rhyme and rhythm; pulsating beats, a pack of rabid metronomes I can only hear but I cannot see.
My photographs complement my poetry. I know when I started I was more than a little straightforward…I presented images as is, real and unfiltered…but lately I let myself loose, I let myself experiment with colors and subtle variations on subjects previously explored. For one, I let the laws of poetry take precedence over photographic technique. This is why my present work lends itself a certain je ne sais quoi, slowly morphing into abstraction, into the realm of pure expression.
Honestly, my poems are dark, on edge; my personae are troubled individuals meting out their grievances in rhyme, or in some distant language only they can understand. Poetry is an exercise in patience, futility even, or poetry can mean absolutely nothing (depending on context)…poetry should be felt, the words should be sung in the privacy of one’s mind, played out, like an instrument of music.
I write from a place far away, many try to uncover the symbols and the meanings embedded deep within my compositions, some dismiss them as banal, some are quick to dismiss my works as reflections of my troubled mental state. But I pay these people no mind, I never do.
Poetry isn’t that simple.
Artwork by Dyck Cediño
I forget that we are just friends now. Just friends. Still I contact you almost all the time. Why can’t I quit you?
Continue reading “Boundaries”
Are you really worth the trouble
The glory and the devotion?
Are you a religion
A god, my God?
My savior and redeemer?
Like a seed
Implanted in rich soil
You sprout out tendrils
That reach out;
they come at me
they hold me hostage
You play with my emotions
And what a cruel thing to do—
Who the fuck do you think you are?
Words, photography by Teegee Villanueva
It was late in the fall
or the middle of winter, I thought:
when the trees outside were white.
when I held your manhood in my hands
and fed upon it
the first time.
what followed was as white as snow
not quite in the afterglow
but you looked alright
as pale as Snow White.
Photography and poetry by Teegee Villanueva
“Life At Sea, And Other Prospects.” Rizal Boulevard, Dumaguete City. Photography by Teegee Villanueva
I’m a bit elated actually. And I feel like my mood’s improved somewhat. The Great Depression of 2016 is finally coming to an end (I think). Good for me. I’m happy because I met someone quite recently. I like his modesty–I like that he speaks simply. I like that, for the first time in my life, I’m dating someone who is so much like myself: a vulnerable wallflower who knows it all.
I took the photo after I enrolled. I liked the way the colors contrasted, the bright blue sea, the boats behind my subjects looked so drawn, and sad. It was a bit odd to see them fishing there though, given that the water is a bit polluted. But anyway.
Follow me on Instagram: @teegeev
And round and round I go. I go alone. I’m always alone. I go wherever my heart takes me. Oh, you’ve heard it all before. But I am lonely.
Continue reading “Are You Lonely?”
“Do You Love Me?” Ongpin St. Binondo, Manila. May 18, 2016. Photography by Teegee Villanueva
For the uninitiated, unrequited love can be painful. It’s a feeling I know well. Rejection isn’t alien to me; it’s followed me all my life. To be rejected by suitors happens so frequently, I just shr*g the feeling off…this is how I respond to all things romantic now.
I took this photo of a couple by chance in the middle of Ongpin Street in Binondo. I wasn’t privy to what they were discussing (obviously, I was so far away to hear anything substantial hehe) but by their body language I could tell something was up. I hope it all went well. Whatever it was.
Follow me on Instagram: @teegeev