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Help bi help ourselves

“Let me be blunt here: The Philippines’ LGBT community needs to affirm our existence… And perhaps more importantly, help us create a culture wherein bi people define their own identity. In a gist, help us help ourselves…”

Photo by Anna Shvets from

Bi erasure happens in many ways. 

When people push the idea that bisexuality does not exist. When people continue to refer to us as “lesbian” or “gay”, even if we’ve already self-identified as “bisexual”. When people tell us that we just use the term “bi” to “deny our homosexuality”. When people insist that we are actually straight, and are just experimenting or confused. When people describe bisexuality as a “purgatory” for people who have yet to make up their minds. When people hyper-sexualize us (called as “flirts”, “perverts” and “polygamous” because we are attracted to both males and females).

In all of these, we get brushed off as non-existent.

And this is why – even if we supposedly count as among the letters in the LGBT alphabet – bisexual Pride continues to be weak in the Philippines (particularly when compared with LBT).

The LGBT community itself is part of the “problem”, with many members believing – if not advocating – the erroneous beliefs (cited above) about being bi.

Consider this: In 2016, when we joined the Metro Manila Pride parade, that annual gathering supposedly to highlight (all) LGBT Filipinos, there were only two of us who openly marched as bisexuals, representing Side B Philippines. In hindsight, another group whose members identified as bi was there; but that group was not even considered a “real/actual” organization, just a “gathering of similarly self-identifying people”.

Suffice to say, it continues to be a challenge to have bisexual people come out.

And not extending a hand is not making it easier either. 

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But I believe a pro-active approach can help.

Let me be blunt here: The Philippines’ LGBT community needs to affirm our existence. 

Help us steer the conversations about us – e.g. not confuse being bi with just being “discreet”.  Celebrate “Bisexual Awareness Month” every September. Support bi-led activities (e.g. next year Side B Philippines is planning to spearhead a bi awareness campaign and hold numerous activities to ensure bi visibility). And perhaps more importantly, help us create a culture wherein bi people define their own identity. In a gist, help us help ourselves…

Because of his name, Yffar Manalili Aquino (or just Yffar) is often mistaken as a Middle Eastern guy - that is, until people realize that "Yffar" is actually "Raffy" spelled backwards. He took up Bachelor of Secondary Education Major in Biology at De La Salle University Manila where he had to kill and study the remains of frogs and cats just to pass his Zoology and Comparative Anatomy Class. He aced his Religion courses but became agnostic instead, sometimes enjoying being a Wiccan and mastering astrology. He identifies himself as a cisgender bisexual man, which causes other people to raise their eyebrows because he is sometimes effeminate or androgynous. He believes that his sexual orientation is his personal business whether you agree or not. Yffar loves growing his facial hairs. He started his LGBT advocacy in 2006 when he founded a texting clan named "Boys Legion", started "Rainbow Bloggers Philippines", and joined Ladlad and Task Force Pride. Currently , he is the co-founder of Equality Ph and Side B Philippines. He is also a marketing guy for Outrage Magazine. A lot of work? Not nearly enough, Yffar said, after a decade of being an advocate. He wanted to become a teacher but ended up being a recruiter or a headhunter- enjoying hunting heads and giving... Jobs! From above jobs and below jobs. He can give you any job you want any time and any place! He loves giving trainings and seminars on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE), Diversity and Inclusivity (DNI) in the workplace, and other LGBT thingies!


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