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And Allyson finds her BiDENTITY

An interview with a bisexual Filipina on the challenges of being bi in the Philippines and joining LGBTQIA advocacy that often erases bi identity.

This is part of #KaraniwangLGBT, which Outrage Magazine officially launched on July 26, 2015 to offer vignettes of LGBT people/living, particularly in the Philippines, to give so-called “everyday people” – in this case, the common LGBT people – that chance to share their stories.
As Outrage Magazine editor Michael David C. Tan says: “All our stories are valid – not just the stories of the ‘big shots’. And it’s high time we start telling all our stories.”

Though she didn’t know of the term to use to refer to her gender identity, Lady Allyson Dulnuan always knew she was “different”. In elementary, for instance, she had girl crushes, just as she had male crushes. It was only later – in third year college – when “I started (identifying as) bisexual,” she recalled, attributing this to “internet research” that gave her idea about what she really is.

“I (now) identify as bisexual,” Allyson said. “I like guys, too; but mostly, I am attracted to females.”

Looking back, Allyson said she didn’t really come out to her family. “They just accepted me for what I am,” she recalled. “It’s like they knew from the start.”

In fact, she took her girlfriend home one time. After that visit, she was surprised to see her father post a photo of himself with her girlfriend, like she was just part of the family.

Being bi continues to be challenging in the Philippines, Allyson said, adding that this is because of so many misconceptions around bisexuality. For instance, when a bi woman is in a relationship with a heterosexual man, people often immediately assume she is “no longer” bisexual, and is really straight.

“People mistakenly think you’re no longer part of the LGBTQIA community,” she said, “and then you are labeled as straight.”

After working for a few years (in online marketing) in the Middle East, Allyson returned to the Philippines for her advocacy – i.e. she established The Rainbow Collective, which (in 2018) released the first-ever LGBTQIA planner in the Philippines; and which hopes to become an NGO that will serve the mental health issues of members of the LGBTQIA community.

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As a new entrant in LGBTQIA advocacy, Allyson already noted numerous (good and bad) practices – e.g. from NGOs not actually doing what they claim to be doing (even if they get lots of funding for it), to NGO workers pocketing monies allocated to serve community members, and so on.

“Advocacy for me is doing what you claim to be doing to improve the community,” she said, “not to earn from it.”

For Allyson, monetary benefits shouldn’t be the key drivers for advocates; instead, it is to “help change lives.”

Moving forward, Allyson believes in further educating people, including members of the LGBTQIA community. “Education is what we primarily need to combat bi erasure,” she said. “Bullying remains rampant in the Philippines, and if we don’t stand up to it, it won’t stop. This is a way to make people understand we exist in society.” – WITH STEPHEN CHRISTIAN QUILACIO

The founder of Outrage Magazine, Michael David dela Cruz Tan completed BA Communication Studies from University of Newcastle in NSW, Australia; and Master of Development Communication from the University of the Philippines-Open University. He grew up in Mindanao (particularly Kidapawan and Cotabato City), but he "really came out in Sydney" so that "I sort of know what it's like to be gay in a developing, and a developed world". Conversant in Filipino Sign Language, Mick can: photograph, do artworks with mixed media, write (DUH!), shoot flicks, community organize, facilitate, lecture, and research (with pioneering studies under his belt). He authored "Being LGBT in Asia: Philippines Country Report", and "Red Lives" that creatively retells stories from the local HIV community. Among others, Mick received the Catholic Mass Media Awards in 2006 for Best Investigative Journalism, and Art that Matters - Literature from Amnesty Int'l Philippines in 2020. Cross his path is the dare (guarantee: It won't be boring).

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