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With DOTA, a gay boy’s initiation |


With DOTA, a gay boy’s initiation

BRIEF HISTORIES - Don Jaucian - The Philippine Star

Here’s a guilty pleasure: I love trash talking. It’s the brash, adrenaline frenzy that sets me on fire, kind of like riding a four-loop roller coaster or public nudity. It’s demeaning, cruel, and to some extent unbearably human because it taps into our primal impulses. Growing up, my parents taught me to be nice and humble to everyone, but the act of trash talking just spits on the face of everything I believe in. When I scream “Gago, wala kang alam! Bulok!” to another person’s face, it gives me a different kind of high, like heroin (not that I’ve injected myself with it already): dangerous (said person might punch you in the gut), and exhilarating, especially if you’re on the winning side. Because for me, the fine art of trash talking was cultivated by my brief stint as a DOTA player.

I’m a sh**t DOTA player, I’ll tell you that much. But my prowess did involve some special skills with the Lich King (my preferred hero), which comes in handy when my friends and I join mini DOTA face-offs in the Internet cafe we frequent when we cut class (just kidding, we were all straight-A students). He’s an intelligence hero so he gets to sit back and defend while the rest of the burly gang invade the competing team’s base. His Wiki character describes him as such: “While a relatively frail hero and mostly known as a support, he can prove to be a force to be reckoned and mighty foe to stand with as he can render the attempts of multiple enemies futile with his ultimate, Chain Frost.” Kinda sounds like me but, you know, undead and has actual magical powers — and not the Sailor Moon variety (don’t wory I wished I could have transformed with a makeup case, too, when I was six).

My favorite was the chain frost attack, capable of powerful damage, which I unleash when our team needs it most. I mostly hang back, terrorize tiny factions of the enemy which I know I can overcome because it’s the rest of my team that’s more skillful and able in this game. I’m mostly here for the thrill of it, the sheer pleasure of talking sh**t to the losing team, and especially, to fit into the heteronormative conventions of college life.

Having Queer Interests

In a small city such as the one I grew up in, having queer interests automatically casts you aside from the rest of the cool group. I’m not saying I’m a special snowflake, but I’m already homo with weirdo obsessions so I thought of taming my personality a little bit. My best friend in college was straight. I didn’t have a lot of gay classmates — everyone was in the closet at that time, including me, so options were nil. The only #squadgoals you’ll ever have is to get by with everyone else in your block. Fortunately for me, watching boys by the sidelines taught me important points of contact: straight dudes liked talking about their girlfriends or prospective girlfriends and, at least in the late 2000s, they were big DOTA 2 players.

If a guy was missing for two hours or more — sure we had phones but they were mostly bricks for texts and calls and a bit of web surfing — the surest place you can check out is the Internet cafe. True enough, one fateful afternoon while waiting for another class, my best friend taught me how to play DOTA so I can be of use instead of being just a miserable wallflower. I enjoyed the mechanics of it, drawn mostly to the fantasy element of the game since I was into sci-fi and fantasy at that time (whew, when my gay nerd stuff aligns with my straight bro stuff, that’s just some brilliant stroke of fate). It thrilled me, enough to awaken the inner douchebag in me who would scream “Tangina ano ka ngayon, gago?” whenever I’d wreak power to anyone who would dare breach our defenses. I didn’t feel like Chibimoon, I felt like some inhuman god. It was the bro-est era of my life.

I Was A Douchebro

These dudes also got me playing football (the legit one, not the American kind) for our college’s varsity team. Yes, I was once a uniform-wearing dudebro even though I was a skinny twink on chicken legs. I was bending it like becks-ham, assimilating into the hetero culture that I was forced to be in because I felt like I had to belong to a group or else I would implode from too much Radiohead and dark fantasy novels.

The house I live in now is just a few feet away from an Internet cafe, where I would hear sounds of DOTA being played, with, I hope, potentially future gay kids enjoying the thrill of it. The Warcraft movie, no matter how lame it is, just re-ignited my interest in the game, and to some extent, how far my life has turned since. There are lessons learned along the way, some realizations, but I’m too lazy to remember them now. All I can think of is the warm feeling of finally shedding that old skin; the memory only a faint recollection of my past life.

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Tweet the author @donutjaucian.

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