THE REAL MOND GUTIERREZ
Showbiz Royalty and Celebrity Businessman Mond Gutierrez opens up to MEGA ENTERTAINMENT Editor G3 San Diego about his coming out story.
If there’s one good thing to come out of the pandemic,
it’s that we’ve all been able to quietly look at our lives to see what is real, what is true and what essentials remain removed from all that we’ve built to protect us. For many of us, we felt what it’s like to be truly vulnerable for the first time and it’s this vulnerability that has jolted us to finally be very open about ourselves, enough to share what we find out about ourselves to others that might be in a similar journey. Because if there’s something that we’ve learned from this global crisis, it’s that we are all ultimately connected to each other and that life is about shared experiences.
This much is true for Mond Gutierrez, a highly celebrated personality and purveyor of good taste. He has always been ahead of the curve in terms of trends on anything and everything social—from the social scene to all social media platforms. But even he could not have predicted how his life would change in a matter of moments.
“I think the first wake-up call—because, in January and February, I was starting to hear about COVID already through the news and through friends, but I was kind of one of those people that dismissed it early on as the flu. But when it really kind of hit me that this is a real thing was when Manila started going into lockdown, and my brother’s wedding was canceled. And I flew to Manila a week before the wedding for the wedding and then it got canceled. So, that was when I was like, ‘Totoo na ‘to.’ Like, this is really happening. And in the beginning, it’s so easy for us to be like, ‘Ah, wala ‘yan. Like, it’s not gonna come to the Philippines.’ ‘Di ba gan’on tayo nu’ng umpisa? Like until they labeled it a ‘pandemic,’ they told us what to do, then it started becoming more of a reality. And then that’s when I really just like, ‘Okay, this is really happening. We’re in it for the long run,’” Mond recalls.
And for someone who’s constantly surrounded by people and whose job is bringing people together in events, parties and launches, this signaled a complete halt and radical change in Mond’s lifestyle.
“A lot of my work has to do with bringing people together, being in a confined space with a lot of people, enjoying each other’s company, hugging, drinking together, socializing together. So, a lot of my work got affected and my businesses as well. So it wasn’t easy. I have to say that up until maybe around June of 2020, I was, like, in a dark place,” Mond confesses.
“There were a lot of questions in my head, a lot of unanswered things. Like, how long is this gonna last for, is my career over, are my businesses gonna end? You question a lot of things and you don’t know how to move forward and you don’t know how to move past that. So, everyday, you are worrying about something; not only about your health, but your family’s health. My parents are both senior citizens, and I have friends and family that could easily get affected by the virus. So, not only are you worried about your personal health, you’re also worried about your family’s health and also your future; your livelihood. There were a lot of things that you question. And I know that I’m not alone in saying this, but you kinda
have to get yourself out of that rut and get yourself out of that mental state,” Mond explains.
Thankfully, in the times that he’s faced uncertainty in his life, and in the moments he feels out of control, Mond has always had something to turn to.
“But coming from a dark place before and getting myself out of it, it was easy for me to kind of wake myself up and snap out of it? So, around July of 2020, I kind of got myself out of that dark hole and started focusing on fitness again, started focusing on my well-being, and I think if anything, the pandemic really taught me that life is really short and you really have to just live your life each day to the fullest.”
Fitness is one thing Mond can always turn to because he knows it is the one thing he can control.
“I started doing home workouts, I started Zoom-ing with my trainer, and started focusing on that side of my life again, which was highly beneficial and I was able to reach new fitness goals that I didn’t even reach pre-pandemic. So, the pandemic actually put me in the best shape of my life.”
And this is how Mond took back control.
Of course Mond has been an inspiration, a fitspiration, to many who have struggled with their weight since he made a life decision and drastically dropped all the excess pounds and debuted a leaner, meaner body back in 2017.
He shocked everyone by showing them what he could do once he puts his mind to it.
“That’s when I made a commitment to myself like, ‘You’re gonna be the best version of yourself in every aspect,’ and that’s when I really worked towards my fitness. A lot of it had to do with fitness because that was the only thing I could really control, which was my body. What you put in your body, what you do with your body, that was a lot of the things that—you have no control of anything else except for your body,” Mond explains.
But behind his successful transformation was a secret motivation he kept for many years until today.
“I wasn’t so comfortable with my sexuality growing up. I think a lot of people know that. I think it’s an open secret and I think it’s the first time that I’ll be speaking about it today just for it to be on record.”
Mond, for the first time, finally opens up.
“I feel like I’ve never felt more happy and content with my life, and I feel like I wanna share that with people, and I think what the pandemic has really taught me is to live your life because life is short. And that’s what I’ve been doing here in California and what I plan to do for the rest of my life. I’m here to formally say that I am a proud member of the LGBTQ community. And it feels great saying that publicly because I am,” Mond proudly says.
“I am out to a lot of my close friends and I’m lucky that I have that support system around me to give me the confidence to really accept who I am and to love myself because not a lot of people have that? Some people feel alone, some people feel like they don’t have anyone to run to. I’m lucky that I’m surrounded with a lot of great people in my life my family, my friends,” he adds.
But Mond didn’t always have this amount of support, especially in the world he grew up in— ironically—in an industry heavily populated by gay people, local entertainment.
“Growing up, it was hard for me to even acknowledge even who I am. Like, what is this? I had my brother who was so similar to me but so different in so many ways. But he never had to explain his sexuality, so why should I? And that was my thinking growing up. But then entering show business at 19—well, I was a kid—but going back again to show business at 19 to be a TV host, that’s when it really hit me that, ‘Wow, being gay is really not accepted in a lot of these communities.’”
And that came as a rude awakening to Mond.
“Back then, being the new person on TV, I was bullied by a lot of the older people in the studios. Being gay now is not the same as being gay back then. 10 years ago, it was totally different. You feel like
a mutant? You walk in to backstage and people will say, ‘Ah, ‘di ba ‘yun ‘yung baklang kapatid ni Richard?’ Like, I can literally hear them. And because of those moments where people really wanted to put me in a corner and really label me and kind of diminish my skills and diminish what I can bring to the table because of my sexual preference (that I didn’t even realize—I didn’t even know at that time?) I was still going through so many emotions at that time that I had no idea. Like, ‘Can I go through this first before you label me anything?’”
For any teenager going through what Mond went through, it’s for sure, already a tough journey. But being in the spotlight of show business, while going through it magnifies it even more.
“So, that kind of became—why I got depressed and why I gained so much weight. I really became self-destructive. I turned to alcohol, I turned to drinking, partying, and to food—unhealthy habits—just because I had no way else to express myself. And nu’ng time na ‘yun, siyempre, being part of a family that is in the public space—we’re all entertainers for many generations already—I wasn’t deciding on things just on my own? Things that I do will not only affect me, but will also affect my family. So, that was kind of like the burden that I was carrying? Like, I can’t be gay because my brother is a superhero, right? So, that was…Well, it’s tough for me,” Mond recalls the pain and the struggle.
“I don’t think I told anybody. And that was—and that’s the hard part? Like, I was stuck with myself for so long hating myself. I didn’t like myself for a long time. And that’s why I kind of became an overachiever.
And when I was new to the network that I was working in when older hosts would be, like, kind of label me as ’yung baklang kapatid ni Richard’ or…with all of these things in my head, I said, ‘You know what, I’ll take that as a challenge and I’ll be a better TV host than you.’ And you know what happened? I ended up hosting and replacing them on their Sunday show. So, [chuckles] it felt a great sense of kind of like, ‘Don’t put me in a corner, don’t push me aside because guess what?
I can do a better job than you.’ And it kind of empowered me, actually. The more that people belittled me and the more that people put me in a corner kind of made me stronger. And I was like, ‘You know what, I’m gonna be the best TV host there is,’ and I tried and I won at the end.”
It’s very easy for people to throw insults and cast judgement, and it’s hard to have to keep all that to yourself. That’s something that Mond had to deal with on top of finding and accepting his real self. But thankfully, he found it in himself to triumph over the trying moments of his life and career.
“As I grew older and as I matured, I realized the best thing that you can really offer your family is to be yourself. So drop the cloak, drop the act; just be yourself. And again, I’m lucky just because my family wants nothing but the best for me. They always just want me to be happy. We’ve always been very close and at the same time, I had friends that are like family to me. My chosen family who made it much easier to kind of realize that it’s never too late to love yourself, it’s never too late to acknowledge those feelings, and face your fears,” Mond encourages.
THE REAL MOND
Coming out is always a scary and often painful process—but it is an important process especially at a time like now when there is still so much hate towards the LGBTQIA+ community. And this is why Mond has finally decided to come out with his truth.
“Well, just because I feel like explaining your sexuality to people is, for me, not important. Like, I think at that time, I was thinking that it would look kind of like attention- seeking, it would look kind of like… I don’t know. I feel like it would diminish the messaging of ‘be healthy,’ you know? And I always thought that ‘coming out’ was kind of this grand reveal, whereas it doesn’t really have to be, right? Like what I said, like, my brother has ever had to say that, ‘Hey, I’m straight,’ you know?”
I wasn’t so comfortable with my sexuality growing up. I think a lot of people know that. I think it’s an open secret and I think it’s the first time that I’ll be speaking about it today just for it to be on record.
“I’ve had so many learnings during the pandemic that maybe not a lot of—maybe a lot of people are going through similar situations as me. I wanna empower those people. I wanna tell them that ‘You’re not alone. I was going through the same things.’”
Mond has bravely opened up to say that he is someone who understands what it feels to go through this very valid life path.
“To this day, people still ask me on the comments section, ‘Hey, when are you coming out? Hey, we’re with you,’ and I don’t want it to look like I’m hiding or I don’t want it to look like I’m not happy because I am. So—I mean, this is probably gonna be the first and the last time I’ll talk about it just because I feel like, again, I don’t wanna drag it on. I feel like labels are not important, I feel like you can love whoever you love. Today, you can be straight, tomorrow, you can be gay. Whatever your happiness will be. Whatever will bring you joy, right? To me, that’s what’s most important. It’s not necessarily whom you go to bed at night with. It’s more about how you feel,” Mond enlightens.
He didn’t want his coming out to be just for the sake of “coming out,” he wanted purpose behind it, he wanted it to hold significant meaning.
“I think it’s more important than ever just because I want to be an example to the next generation who are struggling, who are feeling suppressed to take time in finding themselves and being happy with themselves. For me, it’s—sexuality is just one aspect of who you are. It doesn’t define who you are. It shouldn’t be—it shouldn’t hold you back in any way. I feel like me, personally, having a masculine and feminine side made me more creative; I was able to push boundaries not only in entertainment but in night life and publishing, in events, and I was able to kind of bring all of the things that I enjoy and all the things that inspire me in one space and make magic. I think that’s the whole thing about this whole story; is that I feel like you will be loved and no matter who you are, no matter who you love, it’s valid, you’re valid, and the people that really care about you and love you will support you no matter what.”
And thankfully, Mond has had the support of his family all these years.
“It’s a very macho clan. I mean, beginning with your father and all of your brothers are very—they have this image of being macho, but your sister is a beauty queen. Growing up, my brothers have always loved basketball. It was kind of like their thing with my dad. All of them would play and I would never participate as a kid. I would kind of like dribble the ball and kind of just like throw it around. And now looking back, my trainer was telling me, ‘Mond, you could easily be an athlete.’ Like, ‘I wish you were more into sports growing up,’ because now, knowing what I’m capable of doing, knowing how I move, knowing how I’m coordinated, I was like, ‘That was a missed opportunity. I should’ve been more athletic growing up because now that I see it, like, shit, I could’ve been an athlete!’ You know what I mean? But again, you don’t realize those things growing up because you’re so…the messaging in your head is like, ‘This is wrong. You’re not supposed to act this way.’ Like, parang society has always taught me to kind of dislike myself and always try to fix myself. Parang growing up, that was always a thing. It’s like, ‘I need to fix myself. Like, this can’t be it. Like, I need to follow this kind of path.’”
But now, the mission is very clear to Mond. He wants to be able to help in making the industries he belongs to safe spaces for LGBTQIA+ people to come out in. And this is why he is finally proudly speaking his truth. He is, once again, setting the trend and leading the way.
“Honestly, the Philippine entertainment industry also doesn’t make it easy for celebrities to face their real identities because they’re labeled even before they’re comfortable being themselves. And I think that’s what happened with me; that there was so much pressure to, like, come out or acknowledge it when I’m also—I also don’t know. So, for me, we shouldn’t pressure people to come out and we shouldn’t pressure people to acknowledge certain things about themselves. Let them take their time. Let them have their own journey. The industry definitely doesn’t make it easy. I think now, like what you said, now, there’s more awareness to it there a lot more,
progressive ideas, and I think the people that came before me opened it; the doors, you know, to make it easier for me to acknowledge it.”
And if the LGBTQIA+ people that came before Mond pried the door open, Mond is kicking it to open even wider.
“I hope that by me doing this interview and me being open, I hope that people can follow my lead, people can be inspired that if your fans and supporters really love you, then it shouldn’t matter at the end of the day, right? It’s about what you bring to the table, your skillset, your personality, how you live your life. For me, kung wala kang masamang ginagawa, bakit ka matatakot, ‘di ba? And I feel like honestly, it’s 2021. The world nearly ended. [chuckles] I think it’s time to just acknowledge your feelings, your emotions, be true to yourself because it feels damn good to be on the other side”.
100%! And this is also why Mond has never been happier. He is now living independently in LA, pursuing his best life.
“This whole experience, honestly, has allowed me to grow and really learn new things about myself, and I’m enjoying it, you know? Dito, walang help so you have to do everything yourself, and I’m enjoying that. I’m enjoying the time that I have here on my own; meeting new people meeting new friends, and we’ll see where it goes. ‘Cause right now I’m taking up meetings for possible work here. So we’ll see. We’ll see. Yeah. There’s a lot of exciting things down the line, hopefully.”
The future is definitely exciting now that Mond has opened himself up to all the new possibilities his life can now bring. But is love part of his exciting future?
“I’m still very much single but I am talking to a few people. And I think like what I said, I wanna not rush. I wanna take things slow. I’m not in any rush to be partnered up or to get married or have kids or anything like that. A lot of my friends and my family already have that.”
And in terms of a partner, Mond’s criteria is pretty attainable.
“Definitely I see myself with someone, but marriage and kids, not so much. [laughs] Kids, maybe that’s a no.
I see how my friends and my family are with kids, and honestly, like, I don’t know how they live their life. Like, it’s tough being a parent, and I’m not ready for that. I feel like I’m still a bit too selfish living my best life to worry about kids right now. In terms of a partner, I think all the good qualities that a lot of people want; respect, loyalty, for me, a good sense of humor, and good moral values, willing to travel, open-minded, those are the good qualities, I think,” Mond enumerates.
But all in all, Mond is in a very happy place on his own. He said he’s lived most of his life as a twin so he really appreciates this time he is able to spend by himself, enjoying the freedom of LA, the place where he grew up in.
“I think being free, being true to yourself, being unafraid, knowing your self-worth, I think all those are super valuable to my happiness.
“And before, I didn’t give credit to that. I always put myself last. I always put my siblings first, my friends first, and I was not the main character of my story. But now, I am. And I am in my 30s, but it’s never too late to start your story, to start your journey, and I want people to follow suit, people who may feel a little bit stuck, who feel that they’re not good enough, and they feel like the ship has sailed; it has not? I feel like you still have the world to conquer and you’ll be happier on the other side.”
And Mond is right. In all my conversations with him through the years, everything he said here could not be any more true, talk that could not be any more real. Because for those of us who really know Mond, and those who really don’t, he is sharing his true self simply because this is who he is—this is the real Mond, proudly and finally.