Google Philippines and other LGBTQIA advocates including Ang Ladlad hosted a special outreach program in Baseco, Manila for members of the Golden Gays from Baseco and the Golden Bekis from Baclaran, Parañaque City.
Held on World AIDS Day, the event featured a candle lighting ceremony to pay tribute to the lives taken by the disease and to honor those who continue to dedicate their lives to end it.
Feeling young and happy
“Gays are always happy people, no matter what happens—you can see it from the performances, music, songs, dances, costumes, hairstyles, cosmetics. It shows on their faces how happy they are,” said 64-year-old Vicente Celeridad after they were surprised with performances by local drag queens Viñas Deluxe and Lady Morgana. The LGBTQIA elders were also kept lively by content creator and improv artist Baus Rufo.
The members of the community also received holiday gift baskets to ensure a festive celebration this Christmas season.
70-year-old “Mama Boy,” who also expressed their true self by dressing in drag, was thankful for the gifts they received, which is part of the regular and monthly support that they get from various sponsors. “We had fun because we were with our people, the Golden Bekis and Ladlad. We also got to receive a gift basket, which is a huge help since groceries are so expensive now!”
Meanwhile, 86-year-old Carmen dela Ru, looking fabulous in a bright orange wig and dress, felt young again thanks to all the young people present at the event. “When we’re with young people, we also feel young, we feel spry and healthy. We feel happy with what we see at all the places and groups that sponsor us, and how we are still included and appreciated despite us being old. It can be hard for people like us to feel real love.”
Spreading joy while supporting the community
The ceremony was rounded out by a solemn candle-lighting tribute to those who had suffered and passed from AIDS, led by Ladlad national secretary Adel Macaldo.
Through this event, Google Philippines reinforced its advocacy of helping and supporting the Philippine LGBTQIA community, which includes initiatives and programs beyond Pride Month in June.
“We often hear that being old could be hard or lonely–so imagine how more difficult this could be for the elderly LGBTQIA community today. This is why Google, Ang Ladlad, Baus, and Drag Queens Lady Morgana and Viñas Deluxe among many others came together to serve and spend meaningful time with them this Christmas season. We hope that through this initiative, we’re able to make happy memories that they can always look back on and lift their spirits up,” said Mervin Wenke, Communications and Public Affairs Head for Google Philippines.