Utrecht is home to many nationalities. Every week, DUIC features an Utrechter with a different background. The concept was inspired by ‘180 amsterdammers’.

Homosexuality is thought to be very feminine in the Philippines”

foto: Sterre ten Houte de Lange

The Filipino Jend and Dutchman Martijn moved to the Netherlands a year ago, after spending several years in Singapore and Bangkok. Martijn’s daughter was studying here and they wanted to offer her their support. But if you’re used to the weather in Bangkok, a Dutch December is a bit of a shock. Jend: “Martijn told me that it often rains here. I thought: I come from the Philippines, we have lots of gales, what’s a bit of rain? But I hadn’t banked on it being so cold!”

Last winter, Jend saw snow for the very first time and really enjoyed it – for a full two minutes. “I soon dashed back inside. I’d only ever seen snow on television, but now I’ve been out in it, I shiver every time I see it.”

Like many people who are new to the Utrecht, Jend couldn’t help noticing how direct the Dutch are. “People waste no time telling you if you do something wrong. Colleagues, but also strangers in traffic. Cyclists are particularly vocal, even when I’m in the car and they are the vulnerable ones. In Utrecht, cyclists rule the roads.”

A good moment

“People in the Philippines prefer to say things in a roundabout way, to spare other people’s feelings.” Jend’s coming out was a prime example. “In the Philippines, homosexuality is fine on TV, but not in your own family. Homosexuality is thought to be very feminine in the Philippines. All homos are cross-dressers or men who want to be women. When I discovered that I was gay, but didn’t want to become a woman, I decided I’d better keep it to myself.”

It wasn’t until he was living in Singapore, six years after leaving the Philippines, that his brother took him to one side during a visit. He’d been asking Jend how he was feeling all week, because he was waiting for the right moment to broach the subject. They went for a walk in the park, but Jend’s brother simply couldn’t bring himself to ask. “I knew what was coming so I said: ‘Do you really need to ask?’ He said yes. ‘Are you prepared to hear my answer?’ I replied. He nodded, so I said: ‘Yes, dear brother, I’m gay’.”

His brother was keen to know because the other brothers and sisters had realised how little they knew about Jend’s private life. “They didn’t know if I was having problems – which is strange in such a family-oriented culture.” After that, Jend took all his family members aside and told them that he was gay. Luckily: “They’re all fine about it.”

Jend’s mother has visited the Netherlands since, and her visit happened to coincide with Gay Pride. “She was amazed by the diversity of the homo community. She was very interested to see that some gay people actually look straight, and by the end of the day she dancing along with everyone happily shouting: ‘I’m gay!’” Martijn and Jend got engaged in March in the Netherlands and are looking forward to a fabulous wedding sometime next year.

Name: Jend Hordejan
Place of birth: Manilla, Philippines
Date of birth: 24 September 1980
Motto: ‘You can surrender, but you can’t give up.’

Allemaal Utrechters is a series of interviews with people who moved to Utrecht from another country. We ask them about their background and their impression of Utrecht, revealing the true diversity of our city. The ‘Allemaal Utrechters’ series is a collaboration between DUIC and Culturele Zondagen, and has been made possible with help from Stichting Dialoog and the Municipality of Utrecht. We hope to showcase every nationality in Utrecht.

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