Lea Salonga: Reflections on Her Journey (And Ours)



Has your 5-year-old daughter met any same-sex couples? And if so, has that sparked any interesting discussions about family?
I don’t know that she understands what being gay means yet. All she knows is that she has a lot of fabulous aunts and uncles, and she’s raised to think of them only as family or friends, period. But once she starts asking what the word “gay” is, of course we’ll tell her in the most simple and straightforward way we know how.

One your tweets said, “I soberly remember that I’m from a place where some people are more equal than others.” While tolerance for LGBT folks in the Philippines has improved over the years, the country still has no specific LGBT antidiscrimination laws. What are your thoughts on that and do you see that changing over time?
The Philippines is a very Catholic country, and Catholicism is very explicit about being gay. I know friends that have left the fold because of the prejudices against them. They are not any less prayerful but certainly not churchgoing. Gay adoptions seem to be tolerated and not looked down upon, but gay marriage? It’ll be a very long time before it’s made into law. We’re already having trouble with the Reproductive Health/Responsible Parenthood Bill being passed, which would allow free contraception for poorer couples that cannot afford it and offer emergency obstetric care for expectant mothers. 

Since gay people in the Philippines have been able to serve openly in the military since 2009 and it hasn’t destroyed the country, what were your thoughts on the endless debate over “don’t ask, don’t tell” in the U.S.?
My belief is that it takes a special kind of human being to feel the calling to serve one’s country. No one should have to be discriminated against or hide their identity in order to serve. So it’s very silly. If someone serving chooses to keep his or her sexuality under wraps, let that be their personal decision, not something mandated by the government.

People of color seem to be on both sides of the fence when it comes to equating the struggle for racial equality with LGBT equality. What parallels do you see between the two?
Well, every marginalized or discriminated group of people goes through their own unimaginable struggle for equality and recognition. Many years ago interracial marriage was frowned upon, but now it has become commonplace. I think gay marriage will get to that point too.

I have to ask: How cool is it to be a Disney princess?
You have no idea! This year a bunch of Disney princesses — or rather, actresses that have lent their voices for Disney princesses — all received Disney Legend Awards and received exclusive collector’s edition Barbie dolls of the characters we voiced. I got the cool deal, because I did two.

What’s on your iPod these days?
Ella Fitzgerald, Maroon 5, Eric Benét, Amy Winehouse, Lady Gaga, and a bunch of other things.

Last question: Is it true you’ve been approached to play Charice’s mother on Glee?
Uh, nope! That isn’t true. That said, I wouldn’t mind playing Darren Criss’s mom. I mean, he is half-Filipino, so that wouldn’t be a stretch. Plus he’s adorable. And he’s rocking the bow ties!

Tags: Music