In December 2010, Henry “Bibo” Perey II founded the Deaf Pink Club (DPC) after he noted the “apparent lack of any LGBT organization for Deaf Filipinos,” he said. Then, there were “no representations done for us, by us.”
The club was broadened as early as the early part of 2011, when DPC was renamed as Deaf Rainbow Philippines (DRP), a move necessitated by the broadening of the group’s membership base. As it was officially established as the first national organization of Deaf LGBT people in the country, membership started coming in from chapters in Davao City, Cagayan de Oro City, and Cebu City, among others.
DRP’s intentions are clear-cut. Simply, “we would like to advance the interests of Deaf LGBT Filipinos – be it in celebrating Pride (in being Deaf LGBTs), our culture (as Deaf, LGBTs or Deaf LGBTs), and our identity,” said Bibo.
How this will be achieved will be through “capacity building activities that increase awareness levels”, advocacy efforts “not only within the group, but with those in the Hearing community”, and networking with like-minded groups to help “mainstream-ize the Deaf LGBTs’ concerns”, among others.
There are numerous issues that Deaf LGBTs have to contend with, said Bibo. Foremost may be the need to teach self-acceptance, thereby effect self-esteem and self-confidence among Deaf LGBTs. This way, “we develop and empower Deaf LGBTs to become self-reliant and productive members of the society,” Bibo said.
This is because there are problems that may already be faced by members of the Hearing population, but are even more pronounced among the Deaf, such as looking for employment, “wherein we face double discrimination – for being Deaf, and for being LGBTs,” Bibo said.
In the dealings between the Deaf and Hearing communities, too, even the use of Filipino Sign Language (FSL) is an issue because – while the use of English words is apparent – the language has its own syntax and grammar, so that there are meanings lost in translation. This is apparent when dealing with HIV among the Deaf, for instance, with the existing materials to help in education not necessarily Deaf-friendly.
DRP has already formed partnerships with various LGBT groups. With the Bahaghari Center for LGBT Research, Education and Advocacy, for one, it is formulating a HIV-related program for the Deaf LGBTs, what with the organization’s effort to include them in the country’s response to the global problem. Rainbow Rights has also included the group in discourses on human rights. Also, DRP – a recognized member of the Philippine Federation of the Deaf (PFD), which is affiliated to the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) – is also member of Ladlad Partylist, currently the only LGBT political party in the Philippines.
There remains a lot to be achieved, admitted Bibo, “and I believe we’ll get there,” he said, full of optimism.
For more information on the Deaf Rainbow Philippines, contact (+63) 915 514 9379 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.