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Brian Shane Gorrell: The Accidental Advocate

In 2007, an Australian landscape designer started a blog, The Talented Mr. DJ Montano (delfindjmontano.blogspot.com from blogger.com), which spilled the beans on everything about the socialites and social climbers of Metro Manila. Soon, the blog stopped becoming just personal, as it started helping better HIV awareness.

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PHOTO BY GLENN AFALLA, COURTESY OF BRIAN GORRELL

Gucci Gang.

That, sans any argument, was what started it all.

The fame, that is, of Brian Shane Gorrell.

In 2007 (March 4, to be exact), the Australian landscape designer started a blog, The Talented Mr. DJ Montano (delfindjmontano.blogspot.com from blogger.com), which spilled the beans – so to speak – on everything about the socialites and social climbers of Metro Manila, from Celine Lopez to Tim Yap to, yes, Delfin DJ Montano, whose relationship with Gorrell served as the impetus to the whole story.

“I started my incredible blogging journey under the most dire of circumstances, when my Filipino ex-lover Delfin DJ Montano fraudulently obtained my life savings (of $70,000), leaving me with nothing (as he) eventually fled the Philippines for San Francisco in disgrace,” Gorrell states in his site, adding, nonetheless, that while Montano allegedly stole everything from him, he didn’t take from Gorrell “my ability to write and warn others through my blogging campaign for the truth.”

And so an advocate was born.

“I live proud with my HIV. I rarely have real issues with my status expect for the ignorance that continues to exist all over the world with regards to the new HIV information and facts,” Brian Gorrell says. “You must own your HIV and wear it like a badge of courage. We must not ever be afraid to be free and continue to grow and evolve with our HIV. It truly is a new life.”
PHOTO BY GLENN AFALLA, COURTESY OF BRIAN GORRELL

MAKING OF AN ADVOCATE

Allegedly, Montano swindled Gorrell of his life savings totaling $70,000 – supposedly sent to Montano as a silent investor for two investments, a failed restaurant (to be called Bonza) in Makati City, as well as a tour booking company in Boracay Island in Malay, Aklan. After discovering that his contributions were used to pay up Montano’s personal debt, the ensuing confrontation of Gorrell of Montano led to the now infamous Gucci Gang controversy.

There was, to begin with, the initial charging of Gorrell of assault, said to be “through the help of Montano’s (well-connected) friends,” as now states Wikipedia.org (which, interestingly, has an entry of the controversy). Seemingly as if to show Gorrell their power over everything in the Philippines (And, seemingly, how everything in this country can be bought – Ed), the then ruffled socialites/social climbers were allegedly able to have the Australian kept in custody for a while, even if, in the end, the case was just dismissed.

Then there was the storytelling of everything about the, yes, socialites and social climbers of Metro Manila – from infidelity to pervasive drug use to… everything; among the juiciest, of course, was the alleged pervasive drug use (and see how they remain untouched by the law enforcers of the Philippines) in home parties, in clubs, in… everywhere.

Then there were the eventual media coverage – gossip blog ChikaTime.com, of course, first carried the story (in February 2007); ABS-CBN News Channel, through Korina Today (of broadcaster Korina Sanchez), interviewed Montano and his family; and ABS-CBN’s Media in Focus tackled Gorrell’s blog, among others.

And then there were the, well, repercussions – e.g. in March 2008, Gorrell stated in his site that officials from the Philippine Consulate in Sydney, Australia, as well as the Australian Federal Police took him in for questioning; and the correspondences between the parties involved [Lopez’s lawyer supposedly wrote Gorrell that “she is no longer in communication with Montano, and, in as much as she wants to help (him) with (his) problem with the latter, (she) does not have the capacity to assist (him) as she was not privy to the transaction which only (him) and Montano can properly resolve”].

No matter the stance taken regarding the issue, though (i.e. for or against Gorrell), what cannot be denied about the hullabaloo is its popularity. When Technograph (technogra.ph), reviewed the site in 2007, it begrudgingly admitted (the site is not for Gorrell, who was seen to use technology to blackmail or at least arm-twist people) that the blog has attracted a total of 200,000 (then, for the first two months of the blog’s existence in 2007), “making it one of the most popular Filipino-related Web sites.”

Wikipedia.org is more generous, pegging the visits of the blog to have reached 270,000, amounting to 36,600 visits a day, with each lasting an average of 52 minutes – at least for the first 10 days of the blog’s online existence. The site adds how the blog has been visited over two million times as of end-June 2007.
To date, it counts approximately 30 million hits.

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As for Gorrell: “Well over 30 million people have read my blog now, and it has broken every blogging record in the Philippines, including unique hits and page reads. No other blog has even come close to these incredible numbers, which I’m very proud of.”

It is this number that is now Gorrell’s intended market as the blog diversified.

While “I’ve (slain) my enemies and destroyed their theories” through the blog that “is my healer, and ultimately brought me to this wonderful place where I find myself today,” Gorrell’s “fight for justice” continues as he now recognizes “the responsibilities of being a blogger-advocate. I know myself to be the voice for many people. People who may never be heard, or have their passions acknowledged without a conduit like a blog,” he says.

POSITIVE LIFE

Gorrell is, by the way, HIV positive – a fact he never hid in his blog, and, for that matter, in his life (even Montano, while they were lovers, knew of Gorrell’s seropositive status, Gorrell stresses).

Thus, while “mindful of others (particularly when traveling abroad), taking into consideration that they may have a lack of knowledge and understanding of the HIV virus, I had no problems whatsoever when I lived in the Philippines. I have never had a problem with my HIV while travelling anywhere in the world.”

“I live proud with my HIV. I rarely have real issues with my status expect for the ignorance that continues to exist all over the world with regards to the new HIV information and facts,” Gorrell says. “You must own your HIV and wear it like a badge of courage. We must not ever be afraid to be free and continue to grow and evolve with our HIV. It truly is a new life.”

In his own words, therefore, Gorrell has become a “very proud HIV-positive writer/blogger/advocate/activist and humanitarian.”

“I’m a deeply devoted vehicle for change. Being such a passionate communicator is easy and my objectives are lofty but achievable nonetheless. Assisting faithfully the HIV/AIDS advocacy community to help eliminate HIV/AIDS related stigma is a primary goal that is closest to my heart,” Gorrell says.

The advocacy has, nonetheless, spread to include “a wide range of issues. Nothing is off limits or out of bounds. I write free with no commercial ties or restraints, which gets me into some trouble at times,” Gorrell says, smiling. But “I always prevail.”

EARLY BEGINNINGS

In hindsight, “I can say with 100% confidence (due to the fact that I was born into a very small homophobic ‘red neck’ infested northern Canadian trailer park town of Thunder Bay) that I’ve spent most of my life’s journey, in one way or another, fighting, battling and advocating against all forms of homophobia and sexually based discrimination. I’ve been beating my ‘I’m gay and fabulous’ drums since my early teens after I’d already endured so many years of torture and hate during my earliest days at school,” Gorrell says. “Having been on the receiving end of juvenile homophobia at such a young age prepared me for my life of advocacy and eventually sowed the seeds for the work I do.”

Gorrell adds: “As soon as I was old enough, I found myself rallying hard for more honest tolerance, unconditional understanding and complete compassion from all those around me not just for myself, but for my entire global GLBTQIA family. I craved early for a more altruistic acceptance toward any individuals who might find themselves positioned ‘outside’ of what society deemed to be ‘normal’.”

The “serious” advocacy, nonetheless, started in 2001, when Gorrell was diagnosed with HIV.

“I felt or rather I knew immediately, that I had a much bigger purpose in life, which was to help others who were perhaps not as equipped as I was when coming to terms with their own diagnosis and the stigma more often than not attached to it,” he says.

The notion of having a hard life, but still having it better than others has been, to Gorrell’s recollection, influenced by a fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Felix, “who was the first black person I’d ever seen in my life,” Gorrell recalls. “One day, only minutes before lunch bell, I said out loud – and obnoxiously I’m sure – for my classmates to hear, ‘I’m so starving.’ Upon hearing this, my teacher Mrs. Felix, in all her black African goddess glory, proceeded to approach my desk with a look of total and utter disgust (which I can still clearly see when I close my eyes) on her face. ‘Brian,’ she bellowed as she glared directly at me, ‘you are NOT starving young man, you are simply famished.’ I knew on that very day, because of this amazing special teacher, that I actually had it so much better than many other kids in the world.”
Gorrell remains a friend of Mrs. Felix, the person to teach him “the big difference between being starved as opposed to being famished – and there is a BIG difference,” he says.

“I felt or rather I knew immediately, that I had a much bigger purpose in life, which was to help others who were perhaps not as equipped as I was when coming to terms with their own diagnosis and the stigma more often than not attached to it,” Brian Gorrell says.
PHOTO BY GLENN AFALLA, COURTESY OF BRIAN GORRELL

Deciding to become an advocate has not been difficult.

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“The decision to become a passionately driven full time HIV/AIDS advocate came very naturally to me, almost automatic, in fact,” Gorrell says, even if he laments that “the extreme exposure can be difficult at times due to the ‘sense’ of total loss of privacy, especially when I feel I’m sorely lacking it. I do feel over exposed at times and worry that people only perceive me as an HIV positive man due to my advocacy for change.”

The over exposure is needed, nonetheless, since even if “there is so much more to me than just my HIV status,” Gorrell says, “I continue to do battle against the old world stereotypes which are continually being perpetuated all around the globe (for people to realize the seropositive status is just an aspect of a seropositive individual).”

Gorrell is the first to admit his goals are lofty. “My objectives are so lofty because there is so much to be done. I need to help people come to terms with not only being HIV positive, but also how to move forward with the news,” he says, wanting to effect changes because “I dealt with it so well on my own; I’m a strong powerful guy when it comes to being honest about my HIV status.”

But the advocate believes “I’m already starting to achieve my main goals. Actually, I started to achieve them the very first day I began advocating against HIV related stigma. I feel my biggest achievement so far is having reached out and being accepted by the Philippines HIV advocacy community as well as other global advocates who write me asking me for help and my opinions. The thousands of e-mails I receive provide me with all the impetus I need to continue advocating and education people who need it.”

Gorrell adds: “I only want to help others now. I want HIV to be sexy. I want people to change their perception of it. And I am determined to do just that by showing people how healthy and happy I am every day. I want to smash those stereotypes into a million little pieces.”

LOVING LOVE

Gorrell is in a loving serodiscorant relationship now – i.e. he is HIV positive, his partner is seronegative. “Of course I am very concerned from time to time with regards to my relationship. My boyfriend is HIV negative so we face our own set of hurdles, which we jump over every single day,” he says. So “we have to work constantly on our relationship, which everyone has to do if you want it to last forever. You must find that special person who completes you and work constantly at it. I’m so proud of my relationship and I’m honoured to have a Filipino partner.”

Gorrell adds: “And you must practice VERY safe sex, which means blowjobs with condoms. I don’t ever want to give my boyfriend HIV so we are extremely careful and yet we still have an incredible AMAZING sex life. HIV does NOT stop you from having great sex. You must just be very mindful of your HIV negative partner.”

That Gorrell is in another relationship after the very public crash of his partnership with Montano is, well, refreshing.

“I believe in true love and everlasting love, and that would never change,” he says. “Love and stupidity got me into the mess I found myself in (in 2008). However, having said that, I would NEVER let another person stop me from achieving bliss in my life. I made a mistake and I learned a very valuable lesson – my mistake cost me $70,000, (but) I believe it to be the most important lesson I’ve learned in life so far, and I will never ignore my gut instincts again. The destructive man in question already took everything from me, and I was not about to let him stop me from moving on with another Filipino lover. My relationship with my current partner is the very thing that helped me recover and stand tall again. My beautiful relationship reminded me that not everyone is evil.”

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Gorrell’s lover, Emmanuel, just moved to be with him in Canada, where he now works at an exclusive resort in British Columbia. The two plan to wed before the end of 2009.

“We’re so excited to start our new life together here. The best thing about being in a relationship is being loved so deeply. I need to be loved because I’m so insecure, generally, as a person. With a boyfriend, I feel wonderful and happy because I hate being alone. The relationship I am in now is full of life force and passion and I’ve never been happier in my life,” Gorrell says.

HEAD ON

The GLBTQIA community, says Gorrell, still has much to achieve. “Until a transgendered person can walk into a restaurant in Greenbelt (at Ayala Center, Makati City) without being harassed or refused entry, there is still so much to be done. I feel the lack of concern for our transgendered brothers and sisters is both upsetting and shocking, (so much so that) we should boycott and march (against) the establishments that refuse to allow our GLBTQIA family through their doors simply because they are not dressed ‘normal,’” Gorrell says, adding that while the Philippines is very tolerant of homosexuals, “it is still a very homophobic country as long as (it is generally accepted that God is supposed to have said that) we are all going to hell.”

On being gay, “I’ve always been a fiercely open proud gay kid, teenager, and now adult. I grew up in an environment where you had to be loud in order to be heard, which suited me fine. I’ve never allowed society to squash my determination to live my life to its fullest potential with both dignity and purpose,” Gorrell says. “God made me gay so I am His glorious creation, born of His eye and His magnificent heart. It’s as simple as that. I’m living the life God wanted me to live – a life full of love, consideration, and deep compassion for others who may need some education, information, assistance, and, of course, comfort. I have a sense of duty to live the life God wanted me to live. A life to serve others the best way I know how. My challenge is to live God’s will, and to make Him proud of me.”

On his life thus far, Gorrell says he has no regrets. “I’ve absolutely no regrets. None whatsoever because every decision I ever made has brought me to this wonderful place where I find myself today. I’m thrilled with where I am in life, and immensely proud of my HIV advocacy work. I’m in love with the most incredible man and my friends and family love and support me. I lost my life savings to a man who swindled me and I never thought I would recover. But I have and I’m thrilled,” he says.

It is also good to note, he adds, of the “many positive things in our global GLBTQIA community, (e.g.) I’m deeply inspired by other HIV positive people who are not afraid to be open and free with their knowledge and journey; I am deeply inspired by unselfish people, who freely help others in desperate need of emotional support, tolerance, honesty, compassion and understanding; et cetera.”

For now, the focus continues to be on increasing awareness on HIV and/or AIDS – particularly in the Philippines. “My most immediate goal is simple. I want to be there for anyone who is having problems with their HIV status no matter where they live in the Philippines,” Gorrell says. “So much of my work happens behind the scenes, answering hundreds and hundreds of emails full of questions posed by others not as informed as I. Perhaps they are scared and in me they find a friend who they can trust.”

It is, Gorrell says, ignorance that continues to make people infected and/or affected by HIV and/or AIDS suffer. “HIV related stigma is killing people. Carriers are too afraid to tell other people they are HIV positive and this MUST stop. No shame. No shame. No shame,” Gorrell says, adding as a message to would-be advocates that “there is nothing more rewarding or fulfilling then helping others through advocacy. Information and education is the key. The more people we have out there in the advocacy community, the better. People thrive on the honesty of others so please share your experiences with those around you because you never know whom you could be helping.”

Brian Shane Gorrell is running the Anti Stigma Campaign. Visit him at:
http://delfindjmontano.blogspot.com/
http://donavictorina.blogspot.com/
http://twitter.com/TheBrianGorrell
http://picklies.multiply.com/

The founder of Outrage Magazine, Michael David dela Cruz Tan is a graduate of Bachelor of Arts (Communication Studies) of the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia. Though he grew up in Mindanao (particularly Kidapawan and Cotabato City in Maguindanao), even attending Roman Catholic schools there, he "really, really came out in Sydney," he says, so that "I sort of know what it's like to be gay in a developing and a developed world". Mick can: photograph, do artworks with mixed media, write (DUH!), shoot flicks, community organize, facilitate, lecture, research (with pioneering studies under his belt)... this one's a multi-tasker, who is even conversant in Filipino Sign Language (FSL). Among others, Mick received the Catholic Mass Media Awards (CMMA) in 2006 for Best Investigative Journalism. Cross his path is the dare (read: It won't be boring).

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Phl votes for LGBTQIA rights at UN Human Rights Council

The UNHRC adopted a resolution to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert focusing on the protection against violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

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ALL PHOTOS TAKEN DURING METRO MANILA PRIDE PARADE 2019

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted a resolution to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert focusing on the protection against violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI).

The resolution was adopted by a vote of 27 in favor, with 12 voting against and seven abstentions.

Now this is worth highlighting: The Philippines voted in favor of the resolution.

The Philippines’ UN voting history vis-à-vis LGBTQIA people has been inconsistent. In 2016, when the UNHRC adopted the resolution on “protection against violence and discrimination based on SOGI (which created the post for the Independent Expert), the Philippines abstained from voting for the resolution. It was then under the presidency of Benign Aquino III.

Also to date, the country still does not have a national anti-discrimination policy protecting the human rights of LGBTQIA Filipinos, even if various versions of the anti-discrimination bill (ADB) have been filed in the Upper and Lower Houses of Congress for 20 years now. In 2017, during the last – 17th – Congress, it passed the House of Representatives; but its counterpart version in the Senate failed to gain traction.

Created in 2016, the UN Independent Expert on SOGI has been supported by a growing number of States from all over the world. This new resolution to create and renew the mandate was presented by a Core Group of seven Latin American countries – Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico and Uruguay.

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The UN Independent Expert on SOGI is tasked with assessing implementation of existing international human rights law, by talking to States, and working collaboratively with other UN and regional mechanisms to address violence and discrimination. Through the work of this mandate since 2016, the impact of criminalization of same-sex relations and lack of legal gender recognition, the importance of data-collection specific to SOGI communities, and examples of good practices to prevent discrimination have been highlighted globally, with visits to Argentina, Georgia, Mozambique and Ukraine.

As a top-to-bottom approach, however, the immediate impact of the UN Independent Expert on SOGI on grassroots LGBTQIA activism remains a sore issue for those critical of its.

The renewal process of the mandate had to overcome 10 hostile amendments, but the core of the resolution in affirming the universal nature of international human rights law stands firm.

RESULTS OF THE VOTE

Voting in favor of the resolution

Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Nepal, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Tunisia, Ukraine, UK, Uruguay

Voting against the resolution

Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Eritrea, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia

Abstaining on the resolution

Angola, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Hungary, India, Senegal, Togo

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SOGIE Equality Bill filed anew in 18th Congress

In the Lower House, Lumad leader-turned-Bayan Muna Rep. Eufemia Cullamat has refiled the SOGIE Equality Bill as House Bill 258. Meanwhile, in the Upper House, Akbayan Sen. Risa Hontiveros refiled the bill as Senate Bill 159, one of her priority measures.

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ALL PHOTOS TAKEN DURING METRO MANILA PRIDE PARADE 2019

We continue to #ResistTogether.

Versions of the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Gender Expression (SOGIE) Equality Bill have been re-filed in the Lower and Upper Houses of Congress.

In the Lower House, Lumad leader-turned-Bayan Muna Rep. Eufemia Cullamat has refiled the SOGIE Equality Bill as House Bill 258. Co-authors are Bayan Muna Reps. Karlos Ysagani Zarate and Ferdinand Gaite.

Meanwhile, in the Upper House, Akbayan Sen. Risa Hontiveros refiled the bill as Senate Bill 159, one of her priority measures.

The explanatory note of HB 258 talks about intersectionality, stating that “LGBT (people) often find it difficult to exercise their rights as persons, laborers, professionals, and ordinary citizens.”

For instance, “LGBT students are denied admission or expelled from school due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. Companies block the promotion and stymie the career advancement of gay or lesbian employees due to the deeply embedded notion that homosexuality denotes weakness. Laws such as the current anti-vagrancy law are also abused by the law enforcement agencies to harass gay men.”

Incidentally, the latter – i.e. anti-vagrancy law – was repealed in March 2012 (via Republic Act 10158), but members of the LGBTQIA community (particularly gay and bisexual men) often still fall prey victim to harassment by law enforcers.

“It is therefore imperative to define and penalize practices that discriminate against LGBT (people),” continued the explanatory note of HB 258.

Hontiveros, for her part, said the time has come for the enactment of the SOGIE Bill; even vowing that the incoming Congress will be a “massive victory against hate and discrimination.”

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“If the Senate’s 17th Congress was a big win for women and health, the 18th Congress will be a massive victory against hate and discrimination. The SOGIE Equality Bill will pass. It is a measure whose time has come,” Hontiveros said.

In 2017, the House of Representatives actually passed the SOGIE Equality Bill. The Senate’s version, however, did not gain the final approval of the 17th Congress.

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Over 50,000 parade for Pride in Metro Manila

The Pride-goers gathered not just to show force and then party, but also to highlight the need to create safe spaces for LGBTQIA Filipinos.

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Growing rainbow number.

Over 50,000 people gathered in Marikina City to attend the annual LGBTQIA Pride parade in a largely disorganized event affected by sporadic downpours and marred by event planning/execution issues. The Pride-goers gathered not just to show force and then party, but also to highlight the need to create safe spaces for LGBTQIA Filipinos.

While confusion continued to exist even during Pride day about what revelers were supposed to #ResistTogether – this year’s catchy theme – there was at least a call to recognize the sector (particularly with the number) by passing the anti-discrimination bill (ADB) that has been pending in Congress for two decades now.

And despite the numbers fascination, the total number of attendees is still undetermined even with the mandatory/forced registration of all participants (else not be allowed entry into the premises), with the information desk “told to say it’s 52,000” while a host inconsistently bragged figures reaching 70,000. All the same, this year’s number easily eclipsed last year’s estimated 25,000 revelers.

Notably, this year’s gathering attempted to “return” the format to the older Pride parades in Metro Manila by allowing various groups/organizations to speak onstage, as opposed to only those affiliated with the political party/leaning of the organizing Metro Manila Pride.

According to Regie Pasion, who helms LGBTbus, the Marikina-based LGBTQIA organization that helped in organizing this year’s Pride (and the gatherings in 2017 and 2018), “at it’s core, Pride remains a protest” and “will remain so until LGBTQIA human rights are recognized”.

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Locally, for Marikina, while the ADB continues to languish, the city’s mayor Marcy R. Teodoro signed the local anti-discrimination ordinance (ADO), passed ahead of the Pride parade. In signing, Teodoroo said that the ADO will “nagbibigay sa lahat ng pantay at parehong karapatan sa trabaho, edukasyon, tirahan, at mga serbisyo ng pamahalaan (give everyone equal right to access education, work, accommodation and government services).”

The same ADO was passed after Marikina hosted the Pride parade for three years; pushed exclusively by the local LGBTQIA community.

Coming from Lucena City to attend the 2019 Pride parade, Aaron Moises Bonette of QZN Pride and Bahaghari QZN said that the challenge remains “for us to utilize this same number to take the same streets to fight for our actual rights (and not just to parade),” he said.

Last year’s Pride parade, for instance, may have gathered over 20,000 revelers, but when it came to rally for the ADB, the organizers were not able to attract 50 participants.

“Don’t get me wrong: Reaching this big number is admirable. But Pride shouldn’t start and end in June. It should be done every day (hopefully by as many, or even by more) people until we are treated as equals. Otherwise, this thing we call ‘pride’ is but an ideal,” Bonette ended.

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Now illegal to discriminate against LGBTQIA people in Marikina

Marikina City joins the list of local government units (LGUs) that now has an anti-discrimination policy that eyes to protect the human rights of its LGBTQIA constituents. Offenders may be penalized from P1,000 (first offense) to P2,000/P5,000 (second and third-time offenders), along with imprisonment of up to 15 days.

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The rainbow cometh.

Marikina City has joined the list of local government units (LGUs) that now has an anti-discrimination policy that eyes to protect the human rights of its LGBTQIA constituents.

The host of Metro Manila Pride parade since 2017, the city was also – for a while – under scrutiny for claiming to be pro-LGBTQIA but with (seemingly) limited LGBTQIA-related efforts topped by the once-a-year parade held in June.

But the ordinance introduced by councilors Paul Dayao, Mario de Leon, Manuel Sarmiento and Zifred Ancheta eyes to make it a policy of the city to hold non-discrimination of LGBTQIA people (at least there).

Discriminatory acts included in the ADO include: employment- and school-related discrimination; refusal to provide goods/services/accommodation because of a person’s SOGIE; and by subjecting (verbally or by writing) people to ridicule because of their SOGIE.

Offenders may be penalized from P1,000 (first offense) to P2,000/P5,000 (second and third-time offenders), along with imprisonment of up to 15 days.

The ordinance introduced by councilors Paul Dayao, Mario de Leon, Manuel Sarmiento and Zifred Ancheta eyes to make it a policy of the city to hold non-discrimination of LGBTQIA people (at least there).

Surprisingly, while the ADO is creating an Anti-discrimination Mediation and Conciliation Board to deal with ADO-related violations, no LGBTQIA organization/party will be among the board members.

The ADO is awaiting the signature of Marikina Mayor Marcy R. Teodoro, though this is already expected. In 2018, Teodoro told Outrage Magazine that hosting Pride is a way to show the city’s support to Metro Manila’s LGBTQI community, particularly since his office in particular supports this community’s push for a nationally enacted anti-discrimination policy. In the end, Teodoro said, “we want to be known as an inclusive community. We can only do that by recognizing everybody as all equal to each other.”

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Sexuality continues to change and develop well into adulthood – study

Substantial changes in attractions, partners, and sexual identity are common from late adolescence to the early 20s, and from the early 20s to the late 20s, indicating that sexual orientation development continues long past adolescence into adulthood. The results also show distinct development pathways for men and women, with female sexuality being more fluid over time.

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Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Unsplash.com

Traditional labels of ‘gay’, ‘bisexual’ and ‘straight’ do not capture the full range of human sexuality, and whether a person is attracted to the same, or opposite sex can change over time.

This is according to a study, published in the Journal of Sex Research, which analyzed surveys from around 12,000 students, and found that substantial changes in attractions, partners, and sexual identity are common from late adolescence to the early 20s, and from the early 20s to the late 20s, indicating that sexual orientation development continues long past adolescence into adulthood. The results also show distinct development pathways for men and women, with female sexuality being more fluid over time.

“Sexual orientation involves many aspects of life, such as who we feel attracted to, who we have sex with, and how we self-identify,” said Christine Kaestle, a professor of developmental health at Virginia Tech. “Until recently, researchers have tended to focus on just one of these aspects, or dimensions, to measure and categorize people. However, that may oversimplify the situation. For example, someone may self-identify as heterosexual while also reporting relationships with same-sex partners.”

In order to take all of the dimensions of sexuality into account over time, Kaestle used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, which tracked American students from the ages of 16-18 into their late twenties and early thirties. At regular points in time, participants were questioned about what gender/s they were attracted to, the gender of their partners, and whether they identified as ‘straight’, ‘gay’ or ‘bisexual’.

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The results showed that some people’s sexual orientation experiences vary over time, and the traditional three categories of ‘straight’, ‘bisexual’ and ‘gay’ are insufficient to describe the diverse patterns of attraction, partners, and identity over time. The results indicated that such developmental patterns are better described in nine categories – differing for both men and women.

For young men these patterns have been categorized as:

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  • ‘straight’ (87%),
  • ‘mostly straight or bi'(3.8%),
  • ’emerging gay’ (2.4%)
  • minimal sexual expression’ (6.5%).

Young women on the other hand were better described by five categories:

    null
  • ‘straight’ (73.8%),
  • ‘mostly straight discontinuous’ (10.1%),
  • ’emerging bi’ (7.5%),
  • ’emerging lesbian’ (1.5%)
  • ‘minimal sexual expression’ (7%).

Straight people made up the largest group and showed the least change in sexual preferences over time. Interestingly, men were more likely than women to be straight – almost nine out of 10 men, compared to less than three-quarters of women.

Men and women in the middle of the sexuality spectrum, as well as those in the ’emerging’ gay and lesbian groups showed the most changes over time.

For example, 67% of women in the ‘mostly straight discontinuous’ group were attracted to both sexes in their early 20s. However, this number dropped to almost zero by their late 20s, by which time the women reported only being attracted to the opposite sex.

Overall, women showed greater fluidity in sexual preference over time. They were more likely (one in six) to be located in the middle of the sexuality continuum and to be bisexual.

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Fewer than one in 25 men fell in the middle of the spectrum; they were more likely to be at either end of the spectrum, as either ‘straight’ or ’emerging gay’. Relatively few women were classed as ’emerging lesbian’.

“In the emerging groups, those who have sex in their teens mostly start with other-sex partners and many report other-sex attractions during their teens,” Kaestle said of her findings. “Then they gradually develop and progress through adjacent categories on the continuum through the early 20s to ultimately reach the point in the late 20s when almost all Emerging Bi females report both-sex attractions, almost all Emerging Gay males report male-only attractions, and almost all Emerging Lesbian females report female-only attractions.”

Kaestle said that the study demonstrates young adulthood is still a very dynamic time for sexual orientation development.

“The early 20s are a time of increased independence and often include greater access to more liberal environments that can make the exploration, questioning, or acknowledging of same-sex attractions more acceptable and comfortable at that age. At the same time – as more people pair up in longer term committed relationships as young adulthood progresses – this could lead to fewer identities and attractions being expressed that do not match the sex of the long-term partner, leading to a kind of bi-invisibility,” said Kaestle.

For Kaestle, “we will always struggle with imposing categories onto sexual orientation. Because sexual orientation involves a set of various life experiences over time, categories will always feel artificial and static.”

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Importantly, although the study found nine categories of sexual orientation development, limitations in the statistical methods used mean that more categories could exist.

The names of the categories are also in no way meant to replace or contradict any person’s current self-labelled identity. Rather, Kaestle hopes that these findings will help researchers in the future to better understand how a range of sexual orientation experiences and patterns over time can shape sexual minorities’ experience of distinct health disadvantages, and the effects of discrimination.

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Transgender people are not mentally ill, says WHO

The new classification is not expected to affect the healthcare provision to respond to the needs of transgender people, but – all the same – it’s expected to improve social acceptance among transgender people while still making important health resources available.

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has decreed that transgender people are not mentally ill, with the WHO’s legislative body voting to move the term used to describe transgender people – “gender incongruence” – to the panel’s sexual health chapter from its mental disorders chapter.

The new standard of classification appears in the 11th revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11); but will go into effect on January 1, 2022.

The WHO uses “gender incongruence” to describe people whose gender identity is different from the gender they were assigned at birth.

The new classification is not expected to affect the healthcare provision to respond to the needs of transgender people, but – all the same – it’s expected to improve social acceptance among transgender people while still making important health resources available, according to the United Nations health agency last year when it announced the intended change.

Dr. Jack Drescher, a member of the ICD-11 working group, wrote: “There is substantial evidence that the stigma associated with the intersection of transgender status and mental disorders contributes to precarious legal status [and] human rights violations”.

It is worth noting that the WHO still classifies intersex traits as “disorders of sex development”.

This is not the first time the ICD changed a classification related to sexuality. In 1990, the WHO declared that “sexual orientation alone is not to be regarded as a disorder.”

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