By Henry Lee “Bibo” Perey
I’ve been experiencing discrimination due to my identity since birth. It is actually double discrimination for me, for being Deaf and being gay. Growing up, I’ve been hiding my sexual orientation and gender identity, and did not show my true feelings. I was not fully aware what my identity is. I was just very happy to be what I wanted to be.
My dream is to be the perfect gay but people in my neighborhood, friends, classmates even teachers teased, discriminated, and bullied me badly about my identity, which is not good. This is related to religious issues (embedded in) the Filipino values. I don’t understand why they’re angry when it has to do with my own life and happiness.
Am I a bad person? Am I sinful? Is this my fault?
Even my parents didn’t want me to be gay because they worried: How can I get job and fully support them when they are old? I understand their reasons, but they don’t understand what I want to do with my life to be happy. I asked for help but no one answered.
An advise (I received) was to look at my life (as a gay person, and see why it’s wrong). At that time, I asked myself why lfe is so unfair. In school, I had low self-esteem; I refused to show my ‘dark secret’, pretending to be a (heterosexual) male until high school.
At that point, I wore some girls’ clothes, and people started discriminating against me. I was told I had to be patient and follow the school’s policy.
I had no one else to turn to.
When I turned 20, I realized through a seminar that advocated on LGBT human rights, the meaning of gender identity and LGBT awareness. I asked (about everything that bothered me) LGBT leaders/activist; and I was happy to finally learn and understand LGBT issues.
I started to show my true colors and became happy for being who I am. I served as volunteer in different organizations, this time not hiding my true identity. Eventually, my friends, classmates, teachers, relatives and workers became aware, too, and ended up supporting me. Even my parents are now very happy and proud of me.
Now, I fight for my rights and continue to share LBGT awareness to everyone, particularly Deaf LGBT people. Whatever I am – Deaf and gay – I am so proud of being.
And while I care about LGBT issues, I ask for LGBT advocates to please not forget to include the Deaf LGBT people. We are also in need of support.
That’s all, as I hope my experience helps.
This is the speech delivered by Henry Lee Perey at the regional dialogue on LGBTI rights and health in Asia and the Pacific, held in Bangkok, Thailand. Perey is the founder, and current president of Pinoy Deaf Rainbow.