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John Raspado wins 1st Mr. Gay World title for Phl

That the LGBT community is a big part of what makes the Philippines a ‘pageant powerhouse’ is a given. John Fernandez Raspado stresses this point by winning Mr. Gay World 2017.

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Images courtesy of Mr. Gay World Organization

That the Philippines is a “pageant powerhouse” was stressed by John Fernandez Raspado, who finished his Mr. Gay World 2017 quest at the Yumbo Centrum Square in Maspalomas, Spain last May 11 on the right note. The 36-year-old and 6-feet-2-inch-tall cyberpreneur of health supplements from Baguio City made history by becoming the first-ever Filipino and 100 percent Asian to win the title.

John Raspado’s national costume includes a gold-embossed metallic head piece symbolizing the indigenous mythical demigod “Sidapa,” a great warrior and deity of the homosexuals in the Philippines. It was designed by Rocky Gathercole and costs $5,000.

Eyeing to “modernize the image of gay men, and to remove the stigma and discrimination towards the LGBT (community),” Raspado – who was crowned by Roger Gosalbez Pitaluga of Spain – said that the title, more than anything else, “serves as a beacon of hope for the LGBT community.”

Raspado – a graduate of marketing, and who obtained units in post-graduate diploma in business administration at the Saint Louis University in Baguio City – defeated 20 other candidates, including first to fourth runners-up Candido Arteaga, a 27-year-old nurse from Spain; Belgium’s Raf van Puymbroeck, 22, sports education and dance teacher who is also the reigning Mr. Gay Europe; Marco Tornese, a 32-year-old banker from Switzerland; and South Africa’s Alexander Steyn, 35, a licensed architect.

He also pulled off the best performances of a Filipino delegate in Mr. Gay World’s nine-year history, outdistancing his fiercest rivals even before he stepped into the Spanish soil. He maintained a lead in the 21-person online polls, which assured him of the Mr. Gay Online Popularity trophy, catapulting him to the semifinal round.

Mr. Gay World Philippines received four special awards, including Best in Swimwear, Best in Interview, Mr. Gay Social Media and Best in Formal Wear. Raspado’s tuxedo, encrusted with jet black Swarovski crystals, onyx stones with “richly embellished embroidery to its finest”, was created by Leo Almodal, and costs $2,000.

John Raspado shows his toned physique which earned him the Best in Swimwear special award.

Arteaga, the home court hunk, was chosen Mr. Gay Photogenic and Best in National Costume; Steyn received the Best in Social Media Campaign accolade.

Remnants of the semifinal round were Australia’s David Francis, a 29-year-old property developer; Miguel Pedro Dal Piaz, 34, real estate agent and professional dancer from Austria; Chile’s Juan Pedro Pavez Böhle, a 29-year-old accountant and professional ballroom dancer, recipient of the Mr. Gay Sports Challenge and Mr. Gay Fashion Show awards; Flavio Romero Valdez, 27, professional dancer from Ecuador; and India’s Darshan Mandhana, a 31-year-old painter and human resource professional.

Absent in the semis were Indonesia’s Budi Alamsyah, 29, financial services professional who topped the Mr. Gay World 2017 Written Test; and Mr. Gay Congeniality winner Charlie Tredway of New Zealand, a 33-year-old community outreach staffer for an AIDS foundation who was very open about his HIV positive status.

This year’s Mr. Gay World tilt  started with the parade of nations, where the contestants introduced themselves wearing their national costumes. The swimwear and formal wear segments followed next. After the distribution of special awards segment, the delegates were then whittled down to just 10. Raspado was the eighth semifinalist to be called on stage.

There was no question and answer portion during the finals night, a far cry from the previous editions of Mr. Gay World, when there were casual and final interviews that determined the top five finalists, then the four runners-up and the new winner. This time, the 10 semifinalists only paraded on stage in their tuxedos for the final look segment.

But Mr. Gay World follows a “point system” since its inception in 2009, wherein every delegate can earn points for a range of challenges and events where they can put their best foot forward, which take place from the moment all the entrants arrive at the competition.

While waiting for the decision of the judging panel which included Mr. Gay World founder and chief executive Eric Butter and outgoing titleholder Pitaluga, the pageant presenters asked each of the contestants with the same question: “(For you) what is the best part of (this) Mr. Gay World (contest)?” Raspado’s reply: “The best experience I’ve known is knowing all these beautiful people… knowing that we are all together with one heart.”

John Raspado (13th from left) waits for his turn during the candid interview of all Mr. Gay World 2017 candidates.

Aside from taking home the satin sash and €1,000 cash prize (equivalent to P55,242.33), Raspado will also enjoy several perks, such as luxury accommodations in cities of countries he will visit during his reign, modeling portfolio by various fashion photographers around the world, professional representation by the Mr. Gay World Organization, and the opportunity to “inspire and empower gay men across the globe”.

Although he felt he had a shot at the crown, Raspado admitted that among the 20 other candidates, it was Mr. Gay Spain who really made him compete harder, as Arteaga was aiming a back-to-back victory right in his home turf.

While thankful to the people who make up the Mr. Gay World Philippines Organization, especially to Wilbert Tolentino, for their “guidance in my journey to victory, and to those who helped me backstage, and to the other contestants especially to (Misters Gay) Belgium and Venezuela, (who were) my roommates,” Raspado is now eyeing to start his reign by returning to Spain for the World Pride Madrid 2017 (from June 23 to July 2)”, and by asking people to “also join me in my advocacy for HIV testing.

John Raspado’s emotional winning moment as Mr. Gay World 2017

Newly crowned Mr. Gay World 2017 John Raspado of the Philippines with first runner-up Candido Arteaga of Spain (left) and second runner-up Raf van Puymbroeck of Belgium.

 

Giovanni Paolo J. Yazon is just your average journalist who can't live without a huge plate of cheesy spaghetti, three cups of brewed coffee, and high-speed Internet every single day. A graduate of mass communication at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, he chased loads of actors, beauty queens, pop artists and even college basketball players until the wee hours of the morning to write their stories eight years. Ivan (how those close to him call him) presently works as a full-time search engine optimization copywriter and an image consultant. He splurges his take-home pay in motivational books and spends his free time touring different heritage towns in the country.

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VP Robredo extolls LGBTQIA community’s spirit; recognizes a lot of work still needs to be done

Vice President Leni Robredo expressed her support to the LGBTQIA community, even as she acknowledged that a lot of work still needs to be done, including passing an anti-discrimination law that will protect the human rights of LGBTQIA Filipinos.

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Screencap from the Facebook-uploaded message of VP Leni Robredo to the LGBTQIA community

Vice President Leni Robredo expressed her support to the LGBTQIA community, even as she acknowledged that even as the LGBTQIA community marks June as Pride month, a lot of work still needs to be done, including passing an anti-discrimination law that will protect the human rights of LGBTQIA Filipinos.

In a messages posted on her Facebook page, Robredo noted the uncertain times. “many of the things we once cherished and held on to are now being questioned and challenged,” she said in mixed Filipino and English. “Sa kabila nito, marami pa ring bagay ang di nagbabago at nagpapatuloy: tulad ng ating laban para sa patas na karapatan, dignidad at kalayaan.

Robredo noted that “for many decades, the LGBTQIA+ community has been tirelessly fighting for equal rights and representation at the frontlines. It has provided a shelter to the oppressed, a voice to the marginalized, and a family to those who have been abandoned by their own communities. Ito ang dakilang ambag ng LGBTQIA+ community sa ating (b)ayan.

She added: “Sa bawat Pride March na inyong inoorganisa, isang teenager ang mas nagiging proud na yakapin kung sino siya. Sa bawat awareness campaign na inyong sinisimulan, isang komunidad ang mas nagiging bukas ang isipan. At sa bawat pagpiglas ninyo sa tangkang pag-agaw ng ating mga kalayaan, isang bayan ang mas natututong lumaban.

There are – nonetheless – members of the LGBTQIA community “who hold positions of power in our society”, such as lawyers, executives, doctors, educators, artists, policymakers and public servants. The VP hopes that they will “use your influence to change mindsets, promote acceptance, and push for reforms on the ground. Now more than ever, we need to set an example to the younger generation. Ipakita natin sa kanila, na wala silang dapat ipangamba at na malaya silang maging kung ano at sino sila,” Robredo said.

The VP similarly recognized that teaching people to open their minds may be challenging, but “huwag sana kayong panghinaan ng loob.”

She suggested doing small steps to push for Pride, including forming support groups; reaching out to the needy; and introducing concepts re SOGIESC to relatives who may not be well-versed on the same.

Darating din ang araw na babalikan natin ang lahat ng ito at sasabihing, everything was worth the effort. Everything was worth the sacrifice. Everything worth the fight. Push lang ng push, mga besh,” Robredo added.

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Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach voices support for LGBTQIA community

Pia Wurtzbach said she’s making a stand so “that our friends and family in the LGBTQIA community have the right to take up space in our society… that their voices should be heard, that we don’t invalidate trans women as women.”

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Screencap from the Instagram account of Pia Wurtzbach

Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach voiced her support for the LGBTQIA community.

Via an Instagram post, Wurtzbach said she’s making a stand so “that our friends and family in the LGBTQIA community have the right to take up space in our society… that their voices should be heard, that we don’t invalidate trans women as women.”

She added: “We can learn to accept these concepts by having a dialogue. By listening and understanding our differences. we will grow and uplift one another as one community in strengthening equality and diversity.”

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Learning is always a two-way process.. we listen as we understand each other’s points of view. This #PrideMonth, we stand for the rights and advocacies of the LGBTQIA+ community. 🏳️‍🌈 Being an ally is someone who gives a sense of a safe and affirming space for our loving community… Let’s provide higher platforms for community members to openly discuss issues and concerns that affect us. 🙏 Here we can discuss our differences and remind ourselves that we are together on this journey, and achieve our shared goals for equality. ❤ . I know we may differ in opinions today.. but our constant discourse will make our tomorrow better because we understand one another better. This will also enable our broader community, especially those with differing views, to ponder on things that matter to our fellowmen. . Let me just make a stand that our friends and family in the LGBTQIA+ community have the right to take up space in our society…that their voices should be heard, that we don’t invalidate trans women as women. We can learn to accept these concepts by having a dialogue. By listening and understanding our differences.. we will grow and uplift one another as one community in strengthening equality and diversity. 😊🙏❤ Happy Pride! 🥰🏳️‍🌈

A post shared by Pia Wurtzbach (@piawurtzbach) on

Wurtzbach’s statement of support came after she co-hosted an online discussion involving Kevin Balot, who was crowned Miss International Queen in 2012. Balot reiterated her segregationist perspective, saying that when transgender women ask to join beauty pageants traditionally only for those assigned female at birth, “hindi na siya equality eh, parang asking too much na (this is no longer about equality; it’s already asking too much).”

In her Instagram post, Wurtzbach said that even if people had different opinions, it’s still important to provide platforms for community members to openly discuss “issues and concerns that affect us.”

For Wurtzbach, “this will also enable our broader community, especially those with differing views, to ponder on things that matter to our fellowmen… [O]ur constant discourse will make our tomorrow better because we understand one another better.”

This isn’t the first time Wurtzbach expressed her support to the LGBTQIA community.

In 2017, for instance, she called out the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) following a drug bust involving 11 men in Bonifacio Global City. “Because of what PDEA and the news outlet have done, some people are now associating drugs and immorality with being gay. It’s ridiculous,” she said then.

In 2018, she urged decision makers to address the causes that put young people at risk of HIV.

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‘Riverdale’ actress Lili Reinhart comes out as bisexual

Lili Reinhart – from “Riverdale” – announced that she is a “proud bisexual woman” in a post on Instagram.

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Screencap from Instagram

Lili Reinhart – who plays Betty Cooper in “Riverdale” – announced that she is a “proud bisexual woman” in a post on Instagram.

Reinhart’s revelation was linked with her post that she would be attending an “LGBTQ+ for Black Lives Matter” protest in West Hollywood in the US. Underneath a poster for the march, she wrote: “Although I’ve never announced it publicly before, I am a proud bisexual woman. And I will be joining this protest today. Come join.”

Reinhart dated co-star and onscreen partner Cole Sprouse, who played Jughead in “Riverdale.” The two had recently split.

Visibility, obviously, matters.

Earlier in June 2020, a study noted that those who have seen LGBTQIA representation are more accepting of gay and lesbian people than those who haven’t (48% to 35%). They are also more accepting of bisexual people (45% to 31%), and of non-binary people (41% to 30%).

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Emma Watson speaks out for trans rights after J.K. Rowling’s transphobic comments

“Trans people are who they say they are and deserve to live their lives without being constantly questioned.”

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Screen capture from the Instagram account of emmawatson

Emma Watson – who played Hermione Granger in the “Harry Potter” series – is the latest actor to speak out in support of transgender rights after author J.K. Rowling made controversial comments on Twitter that were deemed transphobic.

On June 6, Rowling posted a tweet equating womanhood with being able to menstruate.

When called out, she seemed to own up to the TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist, or women who claim to be feminist but do not believe transgender women are female). She also backed her perspective via a lengthy post that cited a study criticized for its transphobic bias.

Claiming to have read “all the arguments about femaleness not residing in the sexed body, and the assertions that biological women don’t have common experiences, and I find them, too, deeply misogynistic and regressive,” Rowling wrote. “Women (are told they) must accept and admit that there is no material difference between trans women and themselves… But, as many women have said before me, ‘woman’ is not a costume.”

Watson appeared in all eight of the big-screen adaptations of the books by Rowling. By expressing her support for transgender rights, she joins former costar Daniel Radcliffe (who played Harry Potter), and “Fantastic Beasts” star Eddie Redmayne who also voiced their disagreement to Rowling’s warped thinking and defense.

“Trans people are who they say they are and deserve to live their lives without being constantly questioned or told they aren’t who they say they are,” Watson tweeted.

In a subsequent tweet, she added that she wants “my trans followers to know that I and so many other people around the world see you, respect you and love you for who you are.”

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Eddie Redmayne joins Daniel Radcliffe in opposing J.K. Rowling’s anti-trans comments

Eddie Redmayne joined “Harry Potter” lead actor Daniel Radcliffe in criticizing J.K. Rowling comments about transgender people. “Respect for transgender people remains a cultural imperative, and over the years I have been trying to constantly educate myself. This is an ongoing process.”

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Screencap from "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them"

Eddie Redmayne joined “Harry Potter” lead actor Daniel Radcliffe in criticizing J.K. Rowling comments about transgender people.

In a statement, Redmayne said: “Respect for transgender people remains a cultural imperative, and over the years I have been trying to constantly educate myself. This is an ongoing process.”

Rowling wrote the “Harry Potter” series that starred Radcliffe, and the “Fantastic Beasts” series that starred Redmayne. In a series of tweets starting June 6, where she actually owned the TERF tag (trans-exclusionary radical feminist), Rowling used the “I know and love trans people, but” argument by tweeting to her 14.5 million Twitter followers that transgender people are “erasing the concept of sex”.

Redmayne – who similarly starred in “The Danish Girl”, the 2015 biopic of Lili Elbe, one of the first known recipients of sex reassignment surgery – said: “As someone who has worked with both JK Rowling and members of the trans community, I wanted to make it absolutely clear where I stand. I disagree with Jo’s comments. Trans women are women, trans men are men and nonbinary identities are valid.”

Redmayne continued that “I would never want to speak on behalf of the community but I do know that my dear transgender friends and colleagues are tired of this constant questioning of their identities, which all too often results in violence and abuse. They simply want to live their lives peacefully, and it’s time to let them do so.”

Radcliffe said as much earlier, when he wrote for The Trevor Project that “transgender women are women. Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations, who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo or I.”

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Transgender women are women – Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe

“Transgender women are women. Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations.”

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Screencap from "What If" (2013)

Following the backlash the “Harry Potter” author, J.K. Rowling, got for statements deemed transphobic, Daniel Radcliffe wrote on The Trevor Project that “transgender women are women.”

On June 6, Rowling used the “I know and love trans people, but” argument by tweeting to her 14.5 million Twitter followers that transgender people are “erasing the concept of sex”.

In response, Radcliffe said: “Transgender women are women. Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo (i.e. J.K. Rowling) or I.”

He added that with 78% of transgender and nonbinary youth reporting being the subject of discrimination due to their gender identity, “it’s clear that we need to do more to support transgender and nonbinary people, not invalidate their identities, and not cause further harm.”

Radcliffe stressed that while certain press outlets may paint his statement as proof of infighting between J.K. Rowling and himself, “that is really not what this is about, nor is it what’s important right now.”

In closing, Radcliffe said: “To all the people who now feel that their experience of the books has been tarnished or diminished, I am deeply sorry for the pain these comments have caused you. I really hope that you don’t entirely lose what was valuable in these stories to you.”

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