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Barracks Brotherhood: Aiming to be Better

In March 2008, the Barracks Brotherhood was launched to “promote ‘bisexuality’ as not something to be ashamed of, but ‘something to be proud of despite of the discrimination (against those who self-identify as such) from a misinformed society’.”

Early in 2008, five friends – Joshua (a.k.a. Survivor), July (Oh Shit!), Gelo (Yuan), Eric and Timmy (Green) – realized the potential of forming a clan, considering that they were at that time already seeing each other often anyway, as regulars of such venues as Bed Bar, Chelu, O Bar, and the now close Mafia. There was, as Joshua insisted, more to be gained in actually organizing as a united group of people, than simply existing for individual pursuits.

In the evening of March 9 of 2008, the group was “officially” launched as Barracks, helmed by Joshua and July as the leaders of the group. The goal: To promote “bisexuality” as not something to be ashamed of, but “something to be proud of despite of the discrimination (against those who self-identify as such) from a misinformed society.”

Worth noting here is the misconception (even among members of the gay community itself, particularly in the Philippines) of what constitutes bisexuality – too often, it is seen as one’s manifestation of oneself, not necessarily with sexual expression, so that it is more similar to the “straight-acting, straight-looking” descriptor used in the West, than it is with Allan Cumming’s and Ana Paquin’s batting for both sides. That this, therefore, may be considered as segregationist is not completely baseless, even if this is not a conscious intention of the group.

All the same, that the group aims to promote some pride may be considered a good start.

It was to highlight “camaraderie as a goal of the group” that led to the naming of it as Barracks. Another name considered, but was rejected was Bad Boys Club, playing with notions of “otherness.” Early recruitment yielded seven members (on top of the founding members), i.e. Chris (a.k.a Toni), JV (Mang Lemon, RIP), Will, AJ, Richard (Mr. Striker), Jeff (silver), and Ralph.

A year after the group was established, Barracks was renamed Barracks Brotherhood, with the second word added to make the name sound “more masculine”. Yet again, this may be said to play with internalized homophobia, particularly the dissociation with anything feminine – a giving-in, it may be said, to heteronormative narratives, which put on the pedestal the masculine.

That there is a lack of groups with which similar-minded members of the LGBT community could identify with is highlighted by the fact that the Barracks Brotherhood continued to grow. After an executive cluster was created (with Josh and July as the founding officers, Gelo as the adviser, and the elected officers being Ram, Jhei, PJ, and Chris) to help drive the group’s future direction, expansion continued for the group, so that by February 2009, a “Laguna cluster” was established, with core members Andrew, Chris and Toffee; followed by the formation of Batangas and Cavite clusters.

It was “due to the unstoppable growing numbers of applicants” that a screening committee was eventually formed (called the “underground room”), solely to “intensively screen incoming members.”

As the group celebrated its third year of existence, it boasted of being one of the still few groups for what many self-identifying “bisexuals” (Filipino-style) say are for “people like us”. Barracks Brotherhood has, of course, become a “mother” organization of some sort, with breakaway groups formed by former members who saw running of an LGBT group differently from those leading Barracks Brotherhood. But that “we’re still here” says a lot about this one’s resilience.

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That there’s more to be learned even by members of the LGBT community about the LGBT community they belong to goes without saying. In a way, organizing – as Barracks Brotherhood has done – is hoped to help in furthering this education.

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