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Op-Ed

Finding Veejay Floresca

Jonathan Orbuda noted the glaring absence of the likes of Veejay Floresca and Vice Ganda at the 21st Metro Manila Pride March. And while “I know that the likes of Floresca and Vice Ganda have no obligation to support LGBT events, the way I see it, we need to expect those who we support to also support us. Otherwise, this community will stay divided,” he says.

Poorer members of the LGBT community showed up at the 21st Metro Manila Pride March, even if many of their issues are not given attention by members of the local LGBT community; while celebrities, whose issues make headlines, were no-show.

The local LGBT community – particularly the trans community – was in focus a few weeks back, thanks to the alleged discrimination encountered by fashion designer Veejay Floresca, a transwoman, who was supposedly refused entry by a club in Taguig City. The issue may have peaked when Floresca was interviewed by Boy Abunda (a gay guy himself) and Kris Aquino in their show in ABS-CBN.

Kung alam mo na ganun pala, bakit ka pa nagpunta (If you already knew they discriminate, why did you still go)?” Abunda asked Floresca.

“I went there because it was my friend’s birthday, and I just want to party,”Floresca replied.

The issue, it was repeatedly stressed, is all about discrimination, particularly since the staff of the said club did not allow Floresca to enter due to their “no cross dressing policy”.

Valkyrie eventually apologized to Floresca (only to Floresca), even stating that they do not tolerate discrimination. Of course, the club also stressed that as a privately owned business, it can impose its own policies.

A HOUSE DIVIDED

Now here’s the thing: When the issue broke, going viral online, the LGBT community was actually divided.

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On the one hand, there are those who were very vocal when they cried foul for the deemed discriminatory practice of the bar. In fact, because of the “loudness” of the response, hashtags were created – e.g. #BeyondValkyrie, and #TransRevolutionPH – supposedly to stress the continuing difficulties encountered particularly by the trans community in the Philippines.

On the other hand, however, there are those who, while considering the occurrence as demeaning (particularly to the one barred from entering the party venue), did not see it worth the attention it got. Simply, over-emphasis on access to just one bar is not representative of the trans experience, particularly when other more pressing issues are mentioned. Here, the piece of Atty. Bruce Rivera best sums up the sentiment.

It can’t be denied, nonetheless, that the pro and anti camps created a lot of noise, so that attention was given particularly to Floresca and her experience with Valkyrie.

Members of the trans community, by the way, “consulted” with Vice Ganda – a gay celebrity who happens to makes his keeps by “cross dressing” – after he said he’d withdraw his share in Valkyrie “IF” discrimination is happening there. Complete with photo ops posted on social media, the “consultation” was said to be a success.

THE SOUND OF SILENCE

After Valkyrie issued its apology to Floresca, I actually thought she’d become a regular in highlighting the issues particularly of transgender people in the Philippines.

It was with this frame of mind that I expected to see her at the 21st Metro Manila Pride March at the end of June. After all, so many in the community rose for her; was it too much to expect her to show support for those who rose for her?

Alas, I was (and still am) disappointed.

I couldn’t imagine why Floresca wasn’t able to come – particularly if she has the capacity to attend.

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And yes, Vice Ganda didn’t show up at the Pride March, too.

There at the march were (better off) media personality Ryan Chua and his boyfriend Sebastian Castro. But also present was a group of LGBT people who were dismissed by Tanduay Distillers Inc. instead of being regularized. They were even asking for donations – mainly, to help pay for their fare to return back to Laguna. All the same, they were there – even if the discrimination they experienced did not raise the ire of many in the LGBT community, or led to the creation of hashtags.

Frankly, I know that the likes of Floresca and Vice Ganda have no obligation to support LGBT events. But the way I see it, we need to expect those who we support to also support us.

Otherwise, those who did not agree with the attention the Valkyrie issue got, and who stressed that incident was an elitist issue that they couldn’t identify with, are just proven true.

As such, this community will stay divided.

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