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No, Ladlad is not the answer to ALL of the LGBT Filipinos’ problems. But Michael David C. Tan believes it will help push for proper representation of the LGBT community in the Philippines, since only LGBTs can truly represent LGBTs. With Ladlad earning a seat in Congress, this is will be a representation LGBTs not only need, but also deserve.

As Bemz Benedito, First Congressional Nominee of Ladlad, said: “It is important to have an LGBT representation in Congress because… I deem it important that an LGBT individual be the one articulating the issues and concerns of LGBTs in Congress. (Only LGBTs) know the real feeling of being discriminated against and being humiliated because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.” PHOTOS COURTESY OF RED APPLE

“If Ladlad will solely focus on LGBT issues, why vote for it instead of voting for others – say, left-leaning partylist groups like Akbayan, Gabriela, Anakpawis and Bayan Muna – which will (hopefully) similarly push for LGBT issues, even as they will also push for other (not necessarily LGBT-specific) issues concerning (all) Filipinos?”

That, in a gist, was the “argument” brought up by a friend, who happens to (also) be an LGBT rights advocate.

And I see his point.

Already, the likes of heterosexual male Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teddy Casiño, after all, helped push for LGBT rights by authoring House Bill 1483 or the LGBT Anti-Discrimination Act; and House Bill 4635, which declares May 17 of every year as the National Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia or NADAHO, supposed to be the country’s national counterpart of the IDAHO; as well as filed House Resolution 1432 that calls for an inquiry on the reported killings and hate crimes against LGBTs.

Besides, LGBTs do not live in a vacuum. Bisdak Pride Inc.’s Roxanne Omega Doron may have said it best, when he summed up that “the issues confronted by LGBTs are not separate from the issues faced by peasants, workers, women, youth and professionals… For example, unabated oil price increases, onerous school fees, unfair taxation, high prices of basic commodities, unemployment and underemployment, low wages and less benefits and genuine land reform are issues all sectors and classes, including the LGBTs confront daily. Because LGBTs also ride public utility vehicles, send someone to school or (are) self-supporting students, budget family income, (are) breadwinners, toil the land and even manage small and medium enterprises.”

So why, indeed, should we “limit” ourselves by just voting pink.

The answer – and it needs to be stressed over and over and over again – is because we will not, EVER, be represented the way we should be represented by those NOT US/NOT OF US.

In one of my encounters with a Philippine senator, I was told that he supports LGBT rights, with his support stemming from the fact that “LGBT issues DO NOT affect me,” as he said it crisply. He meant well, I know; that, simply, he supports us because hindering us will not hinder him as a non-LGBT in any way whatsoever. But for all the support, that he is not one of us is worth highlighting.

He doesn’t know what it’s like to feel so helpless, not accepted for being who you are even by the people you love (and who are supposed to be there for you, no matter what), so that attempting to end it all seems to make sense. He hasn’t been barred from entering venues simply because he is who he is. He hasn’t been harassed at work, yet not know who to turn to, because we are not in the mainstream. He doesn’t face on a day-to-day basis the difficulty of not even finding employment because of being different. He has no need to prostitute himself to make a living (as Queen Raquela’s story effectively highlights). He hasn’t been bullied simply for being himself. And he can love freely, too – something LGBTs still can’t.

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Oscar Atadero – he who helped establish Pride March in the Philippines – once correctly commented (when – looking into our community – he noted the exclusion of mature aged LGBTs in LGBT discussions) that we need to allocate space for the mature aged LGBTs to represent themselves, else we just talk “of” them, not “with” them.

Because truly, the only proper representation is real representation.

And only LGBTs can truly represent LGBTs.

This is the representation we need; it is the representation we deserve.

As Bemz Benedito, First Congressional Nominee of Ladlad, said: “It is important to have an LGBT representation in Congress because… I deem it important that an LGBT individual be the one articulating the issues and concerns of LGBTs in Congress. (Only LGBTs) know the real feeling of being discriminated against and being humiliated because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.”

This representation starts with making sure Ladlad gets a seat (or seats) in Congress.

No, Ladlad is not the answer to ALL of the LGBT Filipinos’ problems.

Its intentions are, in fact, somewhat… “limited” to: re-filing of the Anti-Discrimination Bill to give LGBT Filipinos equal opportunities and equal treatment; looking into the extortion of bribes from gay men by law enforcers; setting up of micro-finance and livelihood projects for poor and differently-abled LGBT Filipinos; and setting up of centers for mature-aged and young gays, as well as to offer legal aid and counseling, and information on HIV and AIDS.

There are numerous issues affecting us that are not highlighted – e.g. the continuing seeming impossibility of transpinoys and transpinays to legally change their names; and the “divisive” issue of “same-sex” marriages.

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(And as another friend said, there are also the issues of non-out/closeted gay men with the very name of the group, “Ladlad”, as well as – he adds to highlight his being “maarte”/picky – a “need to discuss taste when tackling the Ladlad logo”.  Add to these the internal homophobia plaguing our ranks, and the continuing stigma attached with HIV, just among others).

Sooner or later, these – again, with many, many others – will also need to be faced.

We have already started the fight for equality.

And we can’t stop now.

Fighting on gets a HUGE boost with a pink vote.

For the struggle continues here.

Now.

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