By Celene Sakurako
Coming out of the closet isn’t easy. And no one knows that more than actor, writer, and director Fifth Solomon, who famously came out on national television in 2014 during his time inside the Pinoy Big Brother house. Today, he stands proud to be gay, unapologetically showing support to the LGBTQ+ community even when it means calling out homophobia online with a tweet like, “Don’t use the word ‘gay’ as an insult. We love ourselves. We embrace everything about us.” But, as anyone who’s spent most of their life hidden in the closet, his journey to self-acceptance was a long and arduous one.
Top by Rod Malanao
Raised by his uncles and grandfather, who he describes as “macho” and “siga,” Fifth spent his childhood and early adulthood proving he was just as “straight” as his twin brother, Fourth. Although he always knew deep inside that he was gay, Fifth, afraid of being ostracized, concealed his true self to please his family. “Mga uncles ko, lolo ko, minsan tinutukso ako dati,” he shares. “Alam nila, ramdam nila na gay ako. Pero hindi pinapag-usapan. Parang it’s the elephant in the room—elephant with stilettos.”
Jacket and Pants by Rod Malanao
Prior to his public coming out in PBB, Fifth explains, “I was being careful with my personality, the way I speak, the way I move, the way I act. Dati yung personality ko parang flat.” He admits that he never had plans of coming out solely due to the fact that he wanted to be an "artista." Even his closeted boyfriend at that time and his twin brother, Fourth, told him not to come out as they were worried about its implications on his goals and public image. And once he stepped foot inside the PBB house, he felt an inner tension simply by not being himself. "At first, wala namang nakapansin sa bahay na gay ako. Pero sometimes, I was being super sensitive. Parang konting gay issue lang natatakot na ako, kasi I was hiding eh. Natatakot ako na malalaman nila na gay ako."
Top and Pants by Rod Malanao
So, it came to no surprise that when Fifth came out, he identified as bisexual, when he knew all along that he’s gay. “Parang thirty minutes kami nag-usap ni Kuya. Hindi ko masabi yung word na 'gay.' Parang ang hirap, ang sakit banggitin," he painfully recalls. Having had a girlfriend before, as well as a boyfriend, Fifth, 22 years old at the time, thought that coming out as bisexual was the right thing to do. But he admits that it was only out of fear and trying to play "safe."
Now, at 27, Fifth confidently identifies as gay. But having been in the closet for quite some time, his adivce is to take one's time until they're fully ready to come out. And once you get to that stage, he assures that it will be all worth it. Fifth adds, "You're missing out on a lot by not being yourself. When you’re full, you can do things fully as well. Mas mailalabas mo kung sino ka talaga kapag tinanggap mo ang sarili mo.”
Top by Diane Von Furstenberg, Pants by Rod Malanao
Despite the hypocrisy that’s still existent in the industry towards LGBTQ+ actors, Fifth has risen above it, by pursuing projects like playing a transgender for a viral ad and writing a gay-centric web series for a Beijing-based gay social app entitled “UR_Tadhana.” He quips, “Straight people get gay roles. But gay actors, they don’t get straight roles. Minsan trans roles, binibigay sa straight, kahit meron namang transgender actors.” Looking at this situation, Fifth hopes that the industry becomes more open and fluid when it comes to casting and representation.
Being an actor himself, Fifth shares that his dream role is to play a gay protagonist in a romantic film. “Hopeless romantic talaga ako. Gusto ko romantic film. Tapos may ka-love team,” he gushes. Thinking about how it may take years before that would happen, Fifth jokingly adds, “Okay naman kung girl muna 'yung ka-love team, pero mas priority ko yung lalaki!”
Top and Pants by Rod Malanao
While it has always been his dream to be in front of the camera, Fifth has also stretched his wings and made his screenwriting and directorial debut with the film Nakalimutan Ko Nang Kalimutan Ka starring Alex Gonzaga. When asked if he ever thought of making it an LGBTQ+ film—especially since the "hugot" was inspired by his own heartbreak—Fifth admits, “Ang hirap rin sa producers. Baka hindi daw bumenta. I’m planning to write LGBTQ+ films soon. Isusunod ko sya.”
Currently working with Viva Films on releasing his upcoming second film, Fifth discloses that it isn’t the LGBTQ+ film we’re hoping for, but it’s the hugot film that will tug at millennial heartstrings as a self-confessed Antoinette Jadaone fan himself. While most of the script is already written, he keeps mum about any spoilers, as they’re still in the process of casting the lead role, but assures us the film will be out “hopefully this year.”
Pants by Rod Malanao
Fifth is the shining star that brings hope to all of us who hope to see some changes in the industry. Even with his acting roles, Fifth says, “I’m being very picky na rin. Lalo na as an actor. I want something na may sense.” His next role is going to be a lead character for a digital series on iWant. He teases, “It will touch on relevant social issues in the Philippines, especially for millennials.”
From living his truth to unraveling his potentials, Fifth is certainly a role model that the young members of the LGBTQ+ family can look up to. With someone like him to champion the tribe in a bigger scale, it's only a matter of time until every single person in the community will be empowered to step up regardless of what gender they identify as.
Photographed by Miguel Alomajan
Creative Direction by Madel Asuncion
Art Direction by Mikka Caronan
Styled by Samantha Tidalgo
Makeup by Zidjian Floro for Laura Mercier
Hair by Jason delos Reyes
Video by Heintje Mendoza and Renuel Fallore
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