Bisdak Pride Inc. (BPI) was formed eight years ago (in 2005) as a response to the proposal from individuals, university and community-based lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organizations for the formation of a unified LGBT organization that will extend support to several community-based LGBT groups in the Bisaya-speaking populace.
“The establishment of BPI as an LBGT group (looked) to unify all sub-populations within the gay community in different geographical locations within the Bisaya-speaking areas,” said Roxanne Omega Doron, BPI founder and executive director. The group, however, is not open only to LGBTs, but also to allies – to “heterosexual men and women who advocate for the rights and responsibilities of LGBTs are (similarly) welcome in our organization.”
BPI is different from other LGBT groups in “various ways – in strategy, tactics, and notably principles and direction”.
Firstly, BPI is an LGBT group that includes heterosexual men and women who are as determined to become advocates for gender and sexual rights and commit for social change. “We do not want to alienate those who wish to support LGBT rights and welfare just because they are heterosexuals. They can be good mouthpiece for gender equality, too,” Doron said.
Secondly, BPI has four core programs that best articulate the needs and interests of LGBTs as they see it, i.e. queer politics, queer health, queer theology and queer culture.
Thirdly, “we look at the issue of the LGBT community as part and parcel of the entire struggle of the Filipino people for social change – you can’t go any deeper than that,” Doron said. “LGBTs, like women, cut across all sectors. We are widely present in the peasant class where feudal and patriarchal exploitation is more apparent and deep. The working class, too, has its share of a significant gay minority. Even within the women, young professionals and adolescents, gays are present and seemingly more tolerated – but rarely accepted.”
Even after eight years, BPI continues to face challenges, the biggest being “how to sustain the momentum we established more than half a decade ago,” Doron said. “I am grateful that I am accompanied by dedicated, hardworking and selfless individuals who are passionate in serving the LGBT community… They are my co-equal in the difficult tasks to help other LGBTs in our day-to-day affair, and many other individuals who are supportive of and proud to contribute to BPIs development.”
And then there are the finances, though the group is looking for funds and donors that will help the group consolidate its gains.
Nonetheless, the group has numerous achievements it is proud of. Among others, BPI reached various communities in the Visayas and Mindanao, conducting activities through networking and alliances; hosted the arrival of Prof. Ted Jennings, noted biblical scholar and was the acting dean of Chicago Theological Seminary (CTS); co-organized the “First Visayas-Mindanao MSM and TG Conference”, a project of Health Action Information Network (HAIN) with support from United Nations Development Program (UNDP); and co-convened in Cebu the international campaign One Billion Rising to end violence against women and girls.
“Our future and present plans include strengthening our organization as we celebrate our eighth year, consolidate our various LGBT partner groups, and ensure heightened partnerships with non-government organizations (NGOs), people’s organization (POs), academe, ecumenical groups, youth and students’ groups and local government units (LGUs),” Doron said.
Already, BPI is “finalizing our system and mechanisms in recruiting gender equality advocates in hundreds. We are done with the membership form that also serves as a research tool on gender, rights, religion and health. This is an initial step as we leapfrog.”
For more information on Bisdak Pride Inc., visit the group’s Facebook page.