MANILA – Actress Tessie Tomas on Monday gave her advice to parents whose son or daughter is gay.
Tomas, whose only son Robin recently married his long-time boyfriend in New York, said parents, especially those coming from a conservative backgrounds, must learn to come to terms with the sexual preferences of their children if they want to build a good relationship with them as they grow.
Tomas, who is famous for her playing the flamboyant Barbara Tengco on the ABS-CBN sitcom "Abangan Ang Susunod na Kabanata," said tackling the issue early on helps a lot as the formative years of a child are crucial.
"Huwag mong tatawaging, 'Ano ka ba? Bakit ganyang kang umarte, bakla ka ba?' Lalong magdidikit sa utak niya iyan eh. Labeling iyan eh," Tomas told dzMM.
"Iyung iba dinededma iyan. Ang sasasbihin ng iba 'Ah iyan mannerism lang,'" she added.
She said being oblivious to the feelings of the child builds walls between parents and their children. That is why, with the help of a psychiatrist-counselor, she helped his son open up about his sexuality.
"Of course, hindi naging madali sa akin 'yun, umiyak ako. Sabi ko, 'Where did I go wrong?' Sabi ni Robin, 'Mommy, you are the best mother in the world. I don’t also know why this happened, let's not go into details,'" she said. "Ayaw na niyang i-assess pa further kung anong pagkakamali o anong environmental factors."
Tomas believes her handling of her son's coming out made it easy for Robin to explore his talents. She said instead of dwelling on that single aspect of his son's personality, she instead focused on his skills. Robin, who studied at Parsons the New School for Design, now has his own fashion line.
"Iyan ang sinasabi ko kay Robin: 'Robin, you are so talented. You are so full of talent. Go for it.' Ang nanay ko madalas sabihin 'kaya mo ba iyan?' Ako sa anak ko 'Kaya mo yan!!' Double exclamation point," she said. "Importante na i-affirm ang anak natin."
Tomas said her healthy relationship with her son made it easy as well for her to talk about things with him that other parents would find hard to discuss with their children.
"I remember we went to Europe together, 18 or 19 siya noon. We were talking about guys -- kung sinong gwapo, kung sinong di masyadong gwapo, kung sino ang parang type niya o type ko sa mga lugar na pinupuntahan namin. We were very open, we were talking as friends," she said.
Although she had no problems about Robin's preference, Tomas admitted her son's decision to marry his partner, lawyer John Charles Cocchiarella, was another matter for her to chew on.
"Ako din syempre hindi ako plastic na tao. Remember I am also from a conservative family. I came from a Catholic school. Nung bago ang issue ng same-sex marriage, sabi ko, 'Kaialngan pa ba iyun? Parang asiwa naman, dalawang babae ,dalawang lalaki magpapakasal.'"
"Maski kami ni Robin, noon pa…nagkaka-debate. "Darating ang panahon na importante sa aming dalawa iyon," Tomas quoted her son as saying.
"Sabi ko, 'O sige, sino naman ako di ba?' I should just respect the views of my son and John. Nung dumating ang oras na nagpaalam na sila, siyempre nagbigay ako ng blessing ko," she said.
Tomas shared that she recently hosted an intimate party for her son in her residence in Manila, as she was not able to attend the couple's New York civil wedding last December 22 due to a prior commitment in the United Kingdom.
"I believe in rituals, formalities when it comes to these things para ma-assure sila na tanggap na tanggap naming. The father of Robin, he was okay and it was one of the happiest parties we've ever had," she shared.