This month, Morgan Fabulous sits down with Filipino vocalist Geri Love to talk about sexuality, politics and Ladyboys.
Geri Love was born in ‘the pearl of the orient seas’, the Philippines. Growing up unsure about their sexuality and gender in a Roman Catholic country, with a disapproving Father and very little opportunity, was difficult.
“It was a struggle, but I was grateful that my mother believed in me and supported my dreams of becoming a singer. She knew from the start that I was different, and she was always there to help me grow and be myself. My siblings were supportive too and they were quite relaxed with me living my dream to live as a woman.
“I was bullied when I was a kid because of my sexuality; I didn’t see myself growing up as a full-blown ‘macho man’ but as a beautiful woman. I felt very different from others. My friends and I would pretend as if we were competing for Little Miss Philippines, those were fun memories. Being surrounded by boys made me feel uncomfortable because I felt I didn’t belong, I felt strange, like I was born in a different body and that’s when I realised I was different.
“During my childhood, I was the only one who was very transparent about my gender identity. It is only when I attended high school that I met other kids like myself, who shared the same thoughts about gender expression. Then, as I grew older, I witnessed other kids growing up in similar ways to myself and I was able to support them.”
How did you get into music?
“I was part of the church choir; I trained to sing Gospel. My mentor saw something in me and before you know it I was head of the choir and singing solo in front of the whole congregation, I felt like a Diva. For me this was a great creative outlet, it let me be myself, the boys and the girls all wore the same choir gowns, so we were all unified, and I felt part of something great.”
What is it like now for the LGBT+ communities in the Philippines?
“Unfortunately, my home country is still conservative as people are too slow to accept that a non-binary system should be part of their contemporary lives, plus the fact that we are still influenced by the church, and the church still technically has influence on the government’s decisions. We are a bit left behind when it comes to the sexual revolution since it’s a very conservative country, and yet there are so many Ladyboys, so I don’t really get it!
“Our new President in the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, largely supports the LGBT+ communities and we have our first ever representative in congress who is the voice of the transgender community. Even though transgender beauty pageants are famous in the Philippines, and have been televised nationwide to celebrate gender identity, our Male passports remain Male passports. But thankfully, in Great Britain, I have been able change my documents and paperwork legally to Female, and my title to Miss. I would never have experienced this in the Philippines and I am so grateful to the UK government for making this possible.”
What does performing mean to you?
“Joining pageants is my way to take part, engage and celebrate my sexuality, I have been influenced by my TS circle of friends who are all beauty queens, they trained me to walk and how to stylise myself from head to toe. I won Miss Exilio 2015 for the Latino LQBT+ community and Miss Alternative London 2016. I learned a lot through attending and participating in these competitions but realised the pageant life is not for me. Like all competitions, what you see on stage is different from what goes on behind the curtain.
“When I am on stage, I feel alive, it is all eyes on me and I feel like a celebrity. It is living proof that you can achieve your dreams, and all your hard work pays off. I love how I can express myself and celebrate my femininity.
“I used to work as a singer/comedian in some famous comedy clubs in the Philippines. I enjoyed making people laugh and at the same time showcasing my talents as a singer. One of my favourite performances was singing at Summer Festival in Shoreditch, along with other Trans stars. I have also had the pleasure of singing in famous LGBT+ clubs in London and various Pride festivals in the UK.”
Tell us a bit about what or who inspires you…
“My favourite styles of music are Motown, pop, and R&B. My inspirations are Amy Winehouse and Caro Emerald, and I love pop music artists including Little Mix, Jennifer Lopez and Whitney Houston.”
What’s next for Geri Love?
“This year I am trying to establish myself as a singer here in Brighton since I now live here with my partner.
“My ideal career would be to sing every night in my own show, The Ladyboy Experience. Singing, dancing, costumes and some light comedy. In addition, if given the opportunity, I would love to have my own road show to tour around the world, like the Ladyboys of Bangkok show, but with a singer, who can perform live!
“While all that is happening, I will be performing locally over the Easter holidays and you can also see me at the Wayoutclub, which is a transgender club, in London on Saturday, May 5.”
For more information and to connect with Geri Love, view: www.geri-love.com
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