Only early this year (2014), Carmelo Jalandoon (of BEGA), Pol Cabalfin (Ladlad-Negros), Deoduard “Carlos” Ranola (BGS), Rayd Espeja (QPN), Marlyn Puentebella and Rey De Leon (Victorias LGBT) established he Federation of Negros LGBT to create a network of LGBT groups in Negros Island with the goal of “empowering LGBTQIA people in a discriminatory and gender biased society.”
“The federation existence is through the effort of few individuals who are actively advocating the rights and importance of LGBT in the society,” Carlos Montecarlo, who oversees the federation’s outreach program and social works, said.
As a newly formed organization of organizations, many challenges have been – and are continuously – faced, including the seeming apathy of many LGBTQIA people in the island, with many said to ignore Federation of Negros LGBT’s activities (including lectures on SOGIE and HIV); confronting of the continuing/pervasive horizontal hostility (i.e. discrimination within the LGBTQIA community); and the mother of all community-based organizations’ problems, lack of financial capacity, so that “most activities are funded using the personal money of the people behind Federation of Negros LGBT.”
But Montecarlo said that the people behind the Federation of Negros LGBT remain upbeat. “The effort and dedication of different LGBTQIA leaders who are working so hard to face these challenges (prove beneficial in) uplifting the image of the LGBTQIA community in Negros to gain respect towards acceptance,” he said.
As a federation, what makes the Federation of Negros LGBT different from other LGBTQIA organizations is that it is a collective of different organizations.
“The role of the Federation of Negros LGBT is to give support to its member groups through education, motivating them to fulfill their social responsibility, assisting them in mobilization, and empowering them through skills development, livelihood program and in facing issues affecting the LGBTQIA community,” Montecarlo said.
Though only formed recently, the gathering of organizations already has proud moments.
For one, after the Typhoon Yolanda hit parts of the Philippines, the Federation of Negros LGBT helped gather LGBTQIA people in Negros for the “Pamaskong Handog; Bulig Pagkaon” as “one way of bringing back the smiles and share them light and the essence of Christmas spirit through entertainment and giving,” Montecarlo said.
The Federation of Negros LGBT also had series of lectures of SOGIE and HIV for different groups, and also encouraged the participants to take the HIV antibody test. One of the biggest speaking engagements attended to discuss SOGIE was during the Women’s Month celebration in one of the state universities in Negros, which was attended by almost 2,000 college students.
Also a source of pride was the hosting last June of the Negros LGBT Pride.
More recently, one of the Federation of Negros LGBT members had the “A Gay Night To Remember”, a variety show benefit concert for The Project Red Ribbon Care Management Foundation Inc.
And while the Federation of Negros LGBT “will continue on what we do best, including hosting LGBTQIA and HIV awareness and visibility campaigns through social works and event organizing,” it is now also planning on pursuing the anti-discrimination ordinance and its IRR in the locality.
“We envision to have a solid and unified socially-involved Negrense LGBTQIA community free from discrimination and fully accepted by the Negrense society,” Montecarlo ended.