Rhap Salazar on coming out: “I will never live my life again hiding.”

by Bernie V. Franco
Aug 11, 2020
Rhap Salazar: “I find it really insulting kapag tinatawag akong ‘bakla’, ‘bading’, or ‘gay’ when I was little." (Right photo) Rhap, now out and proud, with his boyfriend Erwin Laroya.
PHOTO/S: @rhapsalazar on Instagram

Sa kauna-unahang pagkakataon, ibinahagi ni Rhap Salazar ang kanyang coming out story.

Matagal nang usap-usapan ang tungkol sa sexual orientation ni Rhap, ngunit walang pag-amin o pagtanggi ang 23-year-old singer.

Hanggang noong February 14, 2020, Valentine’s Day, nag-post siya sa Instagram ng larawan ng dalawang lalaking magkayakap at tinatanaw ang water falls.

Ang dalawang lalaking nasa larawan ay ang singer at ang kanyang boyfriend.

Iyon ang naging hudyat ng pagka-come out ni Rhap sa publiko.

Pagsapit ng Abril, nag-post muli si Rhap sa Instagram ng larawan kasama ang nobyo. Sa pagkakataong ito, kita na ang mukha nila.

“Yes, that’s him,” pagtukoy ni Rhap sa PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) sa kanyang boyfriend—si Erwin Laroya, 30.

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Maliban sa pagpu-post ng larawan nila ng boyfriend, hindi pa nagsasalita si Rhap tungkol sa kanyang pagka-come out.

RHAP ON COMING OUT

Kagabi, August 10, eksklusibong naglahad si Rhap sa PEP.ph tungkol sa kanyang pag-amin bilang miyembro ng LGBTQ++ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, queer) community.

Hindi raw lingid kay Rhap na pinag-uusapan ng ibang tao ang kanyang kasarian kahit sa murang edad.

Saad niya, “It was a struggle somehow, kasi madami nga ang nakakakita at madami silang nasasabi sa bawat kilos o galaw ko.

“I find it really insulting kapag tinatawag akong ‘bakla’, ‘bading’, or ‘gay’ when I was little.

“Sobrang uncomfortable yung pakiramdam.”

Binitbit daw niya ang hirap na ito hanggang sa pagbibinata.

Naging malupit din ang social media kay Rhap dahil tampulan siya ng pangungutya ng netizens.

Pero mas pinili ni Rhap na huwag patulan ang mga komentong ito.

“Before, I am aware that people were questioning na about my gender, and tahimik lang ako at ini-enjoy lang ang work with ABS-CBN.

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“Until I learned how to accept who I really am.

"From insult, naging lakas ng loob ko na siya,” saad ng singer.

Noong 2019, nagkaroon ng lakas ng loob si Rhap at umamin siya sa kanyang pamilya.

“Last year, I decided to come out to my family which was very challenging yet soul-satisfying.”

Sino ang nag-udyok sa kanya para umamin siya sa pamilya?

Sagot ni Rhap, “Nobody pushed me to come out. It is just I want to be more of myself.

“I started to love myself more and be happy.”

Hindi na raw siya nababahala sa mga kumukutya sa kanya.

“Masaya ako kung ano ako, at masaya ako na ang pamilya at mga kaibigan ko ay tanggap ako.”

Sabi pa ni Rhap: “Coming out was really the best relief na naramdaman ko sa sarili ko.

“That I will never live my life again hiding and pretending to be someone that I am not.”

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RHAP’S BOYFRIEND

Milestone sa pagka-come out ni Rhap ang pagpu-post niya ng larawan nila ng nobyo noong Araw ng mga Puso.

“Actually, I didn’t have plans to post it, but then, he was overseas. And I really missed him that time,” kuwento ng singer.

Nasa ibang bansa noon si Erwin, at long-distance relationship (LDR) sila.

Si Erwin ay nagtrabaho bilang hotel staff member ng Park Hyatt Hotel sa Doha, Qatar.

Pitong taon ang agwat nila.

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Naging mainit daw ang pagtanggap ng publiko sa ipinost na larawan ni Rhap kasama ang nobyo.

“People were sending messages and love on Instagram and Twitter.

“I guess mas madaming bukas ang isipan doon compared sa Facebook, which I got a lot of hate comments.

“When I posted that photo, sobrang pinagkaguluhan na siya in my social media accounts."

Sabi pa ni Rhap, “I am truly happy with my relationship with Erwin.”

Hindi naman daw puro positibo ang komento, pero sanay na raw si Rhap sa mga kritiko.

“Pero it doesn’t affect me anymore. Nakalakihan ko na yung mundong puno ng panghuhusga.

“So, as long as wala akong ginagawang masama sa kapwa, tuloy ang buhay.”

Sa ngayon ay nasa Pilipinas na si Erwin at tinututukan ang kanilang online food business.

Bukod pa rito, gumawa rin ang magnobyo ng YouTube channel na tinawag nilang Cheeks TV, hango sa kanilang terms of endearment na Cheek at Cheeks.

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Ang kanilang video content ay tumatalakay sa selebrasyon ng pagmamahalan ng dalawang miyembro ng LGBTQ++ community.

“We want people to witness that in LGBTQIA community there is a great love and lots of stories to share and we put God at the center of our relationship.

“I met Erwin with substantial love to God, and this makes our relationship healthy and stronger.

“We are also happy that we inspire people by elevating love and healthy relationship.”

RHAP’S PURPOSE AS LGBTQ MEMBER

Umaasa si Rhap na hindi maaapektuhan ang kanyang trabaho bilang singer dahil sa kanyang pag-amin.

“I am professional when it comes to work and my career dahil binibigay ko lahat-lahat specially when I do something for it.”

Dahil sa pandemya, aminado si Rhap na apektado ang kanyang singing career, pero nagsusumikap pa rin siya para ipagpatuloy ang propesyon.

“Because of the pandemic, all of my events outside are cancelled. Kaya everything I do now is all virtual.

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“I do livestreaming for the fans and I still upload my singing videos online.

“I think that’s the best way para mapanood at marinig pa din nila ako during this time.”

Gusto rin gamitin ng Kapamilya singer ang kanyang pagiging public figure para iangat ang LGBTQIA community.

“In a world full of criticism and hate, I stand for respect and optimistic attitude.

“Likas sa mga Pinoy, regardless of sexual orientation, whether gay or straight, is naghihilahan pababa.

"So, for me, it’s good to see our fellow countrymen na naghihilahan pataas.

“So I stand for respect, optimistic attitude, and a massive support for everyone.”

Bilang pangwakas, may payo si Rhap sa mga dumadaan ngayon sa identity crisis na minsan niyang pinagdaanan.

Aniya, “Trust God’s timing. Be brave and stand up for yourself.

“Ito yung natitirang utang mo sa sarili mo. The only truth that will change your life.

"This is the real you. Don’t let other people decide on who and what you are.”

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HOW RHAP SALAZAR STARTED

Nakilala si Rhap nang itanghal bilang Brightest Star sa Little Division ng singing search ng ABS-CBN na Little Big Star noong 2005.

Si Sarah Geronimo ang host ng ABS-CBN singing competition, kung saan nadiskubre rin sina Makisig Morales, Sam Concepcion, at Charice Pempengco, na ngayon ay kilala na bilang si Jake Zyrus.

Walong taong gulang lamang noon si Rhap.

Binigyan si Rhap ng standing ovation sa The Ellen DeGeneres Show nang kantahin niya ang “All By Myself” ni Celine Dion noong November 2009.

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Nagbigay rin si Rhap ng karangalan sa Pilipinas noong 2009 nang masungkit ang dalawang titulo sa prestihiyosong 13th World Championships of Performing Arts (WCOPA) sa Los Angeles, California.

Kampeon siya sa dalawang kategorya: Junior Grand Champion Performer of the World at Junior Grand Champion Solo Vocalist of the World.

Pinasok ni Rhap ang pag-arte at napabilang sa ABS-CBN shows na Habang May Buhay (2010), Shout Out! (2010), at Luv U (2012).

Nagkaroon din siya ng supporting roles sa ilang pelikula gaya ng Paano Kita Iibigin, Pasukob noong 2007, at Father Jejemon noong 2010.

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Rhap Salazar: “I find it really insulting kapag tinatawag akong ‘bakla’, ‘bading’, or ‘gay’ when I was little." (Right photo) Rhap, now out and proud, with his boyfriend Erwin Laroya.
PHOTO/S: @rhapsalazar on Instagram
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