Rainbow’s Sunset Take Aways
By Ptr Joseph San Jose
This is my personal take aways from the film, so be warned of a few spoilers. Thinking about it more, I decided to post it as a pastoral teaching piece for those who will care to read.
Rainbow’s Sunset is a 2018 Filipino family drama LGBT-themed film directed by Joel Lamangan, starring Eddie Garcia, Tony Mabesa and Gloria Romero. The movie is an official entry to the 2018 Metro Manila Film Festival.
The story of Rainbow’s Sunset is well written and it is powerful story of love and family that hopefully helps to educate or at least bring some compassionate awareness in our wider society towards LGBTQI+ lives and relationships. While the story still has some unpacking with regard to queer feminist perspective (which I will not discuss), I think it has done a good job to touch hearts and minds of the wider public.
Here are some of my take away:
1. WE ARE ALL BROKEN. Don’t be a judgmental jerk.
We are all broken and have each of our own weaknesses, yet so many of us are so quick to judge others especially those who are closest to us while at the same time have feelings and attitudes of moral superiority. At some point in our lives, we ourselves, despite our positions, careers or whatever, will one day commit a mistake far worst despite knowing that it is wrong, hurtful and scandalous. Perhaps it is worth to consider that just maybe that which we are judging and condemning in others might not be wrong at all if only we take more time to understand.
2. Love Transcends Part 1: gay love exist and it endures.
Yes, love between two men does exist and it does endure the test of time, challenges and people’s judgement. It is beyond the usual benefactor – benefactee that has been stereotyped inside and outside the LGBT community. LGBTQI+ relationships and their love does exist and it endures.
3. Love Transcends Part 2: transcends gender and sexuality.
Even a heterosexual cis-woman like Sylvia can sincerely and truly love both Fredo, a gay man and Ramon, a bisexual man (my perceived sexual orientation of Ramon). A gay man in the person of Fredo can sincerely and truly love a cis-heterosexual woman in the person of Sylvia out of his love for Ramon. And yes, Ramon can equally love both Sylvia and Fredo as was clearly stated by him in the story. Love transcends gender and sexuality and all its nuances. Despite living in their time and not knowing the science of SOGIE (sexual orientation, gender identity and expression), the love that existed among the characters was very real to them despite their ambiguity of their relationships.
4. Love Transcends Part 3: polyamory exists
We often idealize love and equate it with two people being monogamous. Even in the LGBTQI+ community this is the case. Yet, the reality is love can and does exist between 3 people as evident in the relationship of Ramon, Sylvia and Fredo. Even within the LGBTQI+ community, open relationships or polyamory is seen as a taboo, undesirable or even outright sinful. Yet, we must be careful to condemn and judge people who are in situation and relational circumstances different from our own. Yes, a trouple does and can exist, and it can endure with much love, tenderness and care. I invite you to re-read witj queer lenses the book of Ruth – story of Naomi, Ruth and Boaz. The story of David and Jonathan who each had their own wives yet had deep enduring love for each other. Don’t get me wrong, I am not encouraging everyone to suddenly reject monogamy nor am I devaluing it. Monogamy is beautiful and wonderful but can we also consider non-monogamous relationships as equally wonderful for those who are in such situations and relationships?
5. Love Trancends Part 4: love encompasses sex and so much more.
Yes, sex is also part of a loving and romantic relationships and this is true with LGBTQI+ relationships. Gay men have sex. Lesbian women have sex. People in relationship have sex. But sex while being important and essential as much as it is with straight couples, is not the center or the only thing that LGBTQI couples do or think about all the time the same way that straight couples are not 24/7 sexual with their relationships. Sex shouldn’t be frowned upon in both LGBTQI+ live and straight lives. It is a gift that should be practiced appropriately and within the bounds of mutual consent. At the same time, we must understand that the relationship between two men or two women (and in this case 2 men and 1 woman) exist and endures because of the values of mutual support and care, mutual tenderness and affection and the mutual willingness to sacrifice and give one’s self to the other.
6. Family is formed by love.
While families seem to be formed by default because of blood, we know that families are only truly formed by and because of our shared values: of love, mutual care and support, courage, commitment, strong bonds despite scandals and struggles, mutual affection and tenderness, and most of all, sacrifice. All these things were evident in the family that Sylvia, Ramon and Fredo raised up together. In the end, being there for each other no matter what, even in the face of opposition and of death itself, is what makes a family a family.
7. Acceptance takes courage and it demands.
The respect and acceptance we need takes a whole lot of courage. Respect and Acceptance also means boldly demanding it from others even in the face of resistance or opposition from no less than your own family. As long as we hide and play by the judgmental rules of society, acceptance of who we are and the people we love will never find proper respect and acceptance. This was evident in Ramon’s stubbornness to be with Fredo and to be out and open of their relationship even as they attend the public party of their daughter, the Mayor.
8. A REMINDER: Not All LGBTQI persons will grow old with a partner.
Not every heterosexual person does.
While the film is a powerful story that educates and brings awareness to the wider public – we must be reminded that it is but one of the many and countless real life stories of LGBTQI persons. Many LGBTs will grow old and without a romantic partner. In many cases this may seem sad and it is. At the same time, there are also many instances that other LGBTs who grow old without partners are still able to find joy and meaning with supportive and loving families, friends and communities. I know a few who don’t have partners but are dedicated to their adopted children and who in turn loves them and cares for them in their waning years. Love transcends romance. It is found, given and received in many other kinds, situations and places.
Rainbow Sunset is a bold and courageous film and for a time such us ours. It shows us very clearly both the diversity of love in its varying expressions and complexities of non-normative relationships. At the same time teaching us that despite the differences or distinctions, love and all other values or virtues that creates and sustains relationships of all kinds are all the same.
(Pastor Joseph finished his Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary. He also has a BA in Communication Arts from UST, in which he had two film courses and was a former artistic director of his college theater guild)
I close this with a 1 John 4:16:
“So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.”