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LGBT leaders recall Christian, militant beginnings of Pride in Phl

In Pride Speaks, a gathering that eyed to educate and engage both the members of the LGBT community and heterosexual allies on the fight for equality and non-discrimination of LGBT people, LGBT leaders who pioneered Pride celebrations in Asia, including in the Philippines, stressed the relevant role of Christianity and militant activism in the development of Pride in these parts of the world.

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LGBT leaders who pioneered Pride celebrations in Asia, including in the Philippines, stressed the relevant role of Christianity and militant activism in the development of Pride in these parts of the world.

In Pride Speaks, a gathering that eyed to educate and engage both the members of the LGBT community and heterosexual allies on the fight for equality and non-discrimination of LGBT people, Bishop Richard Mickley of the Catholic Diocese of One Spirit, Murphy Red of Kapederasyon, and Allan Tollosa of Pro-Gay recalled how in June 26, 1994, the first LGBT Pride March in the country happened. The first Pride March, called Stonewall Manila, was participated by more than 30 individuals from Sine Café, Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), Pro-Gay, Can’t Live in the Closet (CLIC) of Ana Leah Sarabia and Malu Marin, UP Babaylan, and students of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP).

MILITANT STRUGGLE

The march was a call to “tsugiin ang VAT. Ang VAT ay salot sa mga bakla at mamamayang Pilipino (eradicate VAT. VAT is a curse to gays and the Filipino people),” said Red, referring to the first march as “Stonewall Manila”, which gathered members of the LGBT commuity in the fight to junk the value added tax (VAT) in 1994. “Ang mga bakla sa parlor ang grabeng apektado ng VAT. Maraming nagsasarado dahil hindi sila makapagcharge sa mga costumers nila. Huhulihin sila ng BIR. Matingkad ang mga panawagan ng mga bakla na bitbitin ang VAT issue (Gays in the parlor were most affected by the VAT. Many would close because they could not charge their customers. They were caught by the BIR. The call was clear: that gays should carry the VAT issue). We campaigned to junk VAT.”

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The first Pride manifesto in 1994 showed the militancy of the LGBT struggle.

Bawiin ng mga Pilipinong bakla ang ating mga karapatan at kalayaan sa anumang paraan mapayapa man o madugo. Sama sama kaming kikilos buhay man ang ialay (Gay Filipinos should reclaim our rights and freedom though any means, peaceful or bloody. We will act together even if we offer our lives),” the 1994 manifesto stated.

Ang militansiya ang nagsimula nitong lahat. Ang panawagan natin noon ay ang panawagan pa rin natin ngayon. Wala pa ring nagbabago sa taon taon nating pagdiriwang ng Pride. Hindi lang ito dapat pagdiriwang lang, ito ay ang pagpapatuloy ng pakikibaka (Militancy started this all. Our calls before are still our calls now. There has been no change in every year that we have celebrated Pride. This should not just be a celebration but a continuation of the struggle),” said Tollosa.

‘HIDDEN’ PRIDE

For Tollosa, the period from 1994 to 1998 was lively, when “we called for gays to come out,” he said.

The march started at EDSA corner Quezon Avenue, where the articipants marched to Quezon City Hall. “There was no permit, but the activists worked it out,” Mickley recalled.

Talagang takot na takot na magmartsa ang mga bakla. Sa Quezon Memorial Circle kami kasi doon ang madalas na hadahan. Ang monument din ni Quezon ay simbolo din ng ating pagka semi-colonial at ng phallus (Gays were so scared to march. We were Quezon Memorial Circle because that was a frequented gay cruising area. The Quezon monument was also a symbol of our semi-colonial status and the phallus),” laughed Tollosa.

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“When we are at the circle there were some MCC members hiding in the trees. In 1994, people didn’t congregate as LGBT people but they all did secretly. That’s why they hid in the trees and it took them a while to be out of the closet,” Mickley added.

A Pride mass was held, highlighting the Christian roots of Pride.

GETTING TOGETHER

“After the first march, Jomar Fleras and his organization called ReachOut organized three different marches, and the last of it was called People’s Parade of the Centennial Celebration of the Philippines in 1998. It was the only LGBT Pride march scheduled in front of the President.

In 1999, people started to get together early in the year. “If what we did in 1994 stopped in 1994, it would have been useless. How can I be proud of just us marching in 1994 if nothing happened after that?” said Mickley.

“It was fulfilling to see a yearly celebration after that. Despite our yearly commemoration of the first gay Pride march in 1994 , we struggle with the same systemic orders that discriminated us, that put us inside boxes. Let’s keep the militancy ablaze. Carry the torch towards victory,” said Red.

Maraming mga LGBT sa mga mahihirap na komunidad. Mas higit natin silang tulungan . Hindi tulungan para magdole out. Kung para ipaglaban ang kanilang mga karapatan. Magakroon ng pagkakaisa ang mga baklang mayayaman at ang mga LGBT na poor. Magkaisa ito dahil apektado sa parehong isyu sa lipunan. Tiyak tayo sa paglaya ng LGBT at kasama na ang buong sambayanang Pilipino (There are many poor LGBTs in the communites. We should help them more. Not dole-out help but the help to let them fight for their rights. Rich and poor LGBTs should be united. Be united for we are affected by the same issues in society. We will be certain of the liberation of LGBTs together with the whole Filipino people),” Tollosa ended.

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A registered nurse, John Ryan (or call him "Rye") Mendoza hails from Cagayan de Oro City in Mindanao (where, no, it isn't always as "bloody", as the mainstream media claims it to be, he noted). He first moved to Metro Manila in 2010 (supposedly just to finish a health social science degree), but fell in love not necessarily with the (err, smoggy) place, but it's hustle and bustle. He now divides his time in Mindanao (where he still serves under-represented Indigenous Peoples), and elsewhere (Metro Manila included) to help push for equal rights for LGBT Filipinos. And, yes, he parties, too (see, activists need not be boring! - Ed).

NEWSMAKERS

Cebu’s Deaf community taught community-based HIV screening

Select members of the Deaf community from the Province of Cebu were trained on the basics of HIV, and on community-based HIV screening in an effort to “inform them that this issue is just as important to them, and that – given the chance – they can help become the solutions to deal with this.”

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Helping Deaf Filipinos to help themselves.

Select members of the Deaf community from the Province of Cebu were trained on the basics of HIV, and on community-based HIV screening in an effort to “inform them that this issue is just as important to them, and that – given the chance – they can help become the solutions to deal with this,” said Disney Aguila of Bahaghari Center for Research, Education an Advocacy, Inc. (Bahaghari Center) and Pinoy Deaf Rainbow, Inc.

The training is part of a project by Bahaghari Center, backed by collaboration between Youth LEAD and Y-PEER (Asia Pacific Center), which eyes to address Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR)needs of Young Key Populations (YKPs) In Asia and the Pacific.

This project is also a follow-through of the public service announcements (PSAs) developed in Filipino Sign Language (FSL) to specifically tap the Deaf community.

PSA on HIV basics released in Filipino Sign Language

PSA on getting tested for HIV released in Filipino Sign Language

PSA deals in Filipino Sign Language what happens after rapid HIV test

Aguila lamented that “perhaps because the Deaf community is often left behind in HIV-related efforts, we have a lot of catching up to do,” she said.

In Cebu City, for instance, even if participants recognized the importance/urgency of tackling HIV, there are sectors that are still “unable to go beyond their fear of talking about sex and sexuality.”

Noticeably, the Hearing community “may already talk about SOGIE concepts and so on, but – because we have not always been included in discussions, we’re still learning the basics,” Aguila said.

READ:  #REDxSUMMER slated on March 29

This is why, for Aguila, every effort counts to “ensure that we are included in the discussions; and perhaps just as importantly, also empowered so that we need not be dependent on the Hearing community just to be able to access lifesaving services.”

Aguila said that “this development may not come immediately, but every step leading there helps.”

The community-based HIV screening trainings are provided by The Red Ribbon Project, Inc.

Other supporters of the project include: Outrage Magazine, Fringe Publishing, Pinoy Deaf Rainbow, TransDeaf Philippines, Deaf Dykes United and Pinoy Deaf Queer.

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NEWSMAKERS

Study finds no link between trans-inclusive policies and bathroom safety

A study found that “fears of increased safety and privacy violations as a result of nondiscrimination laws/policies (in sharing public spaces such as restrooms) are not empirically grounded.”

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Photo by KangDooHo from Pixabay.com

Opponents of allowing trans people to use toilets aligned with their gender identities often cite fear of safety and privacy violations in public restrooms as reason for their opposition. A study now – conclusively – says that this fear is baseless/unfounded/erroneous.

In “Gender Identity Nondiscrimination Laws in Public Accommodations: a Review of Evidence Regarding Safety and Privacy in Public Restrooms, Locker Rooms, and Changing Rooms” – written by Amira Hasenbush, Andrew R. Flores and Jody L. Herman and published in Sexuality Research and Social Policy – it was found that “fears of increased safety and privacy violations as a result of nondiscrimination laws/policies (in sharing public spaces such as restrooms) are not empirically grounded.”

To determine whether a relationship exists between nondiscrimination laws/policies and crime, the researchers focused on Massachusetts in the US, where at the time of the study some localities had transgender-inclusive public accommodation laws and others did not. The data were collected before the passage in 2016 of Massachusetts’ statewide nondiscrimination law that protects transgender people in employment, housing and public accommodations.

The research team compared cities and towns with similar characteristics that had such laws to those that did not. They then examined police reports of assault and privacy violations in these localities both before and after the laws came into effect.

The result – and to emphasize: There is no evidence that letting transgender people use public facilities that align with their gender identity increases safety risks.

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It is worth noting that with the often close association of transgender struggle with access to the restroom, an earlier study found that 30% of people (24% of the women and 38% of the men) felt that transgender people should be required to use the restroom that matches their assigned birth gender

The silver lining: This same study found that a growing number (48%) of those polled (55% of the women and 43% of the men) said that trans individuals should use the restroom that matches their identity. Twenty-one percent of the respondents (22% of the women and 19% of the men) said they were unsure.

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Lesbian, gay and bi people more likely to be politically liberal

A study found that LGB people were more likely to have liberal social justice perspectives; and that this was especially the case for lesbian and bisexual women ‘due to their multiple oppressed identities’.

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Photo by Yannis Papanastasopoulos from Unsplash.com

We’re more open-minded – politically speaking, that is, and in our attitudes to social issues.

This is according to a study – “‘All the Gays Are Liberal?’ Sexuality and Gender Gaps in Political Perspectives among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Mostly Heterosexual, and Heterosexual College Students in the Southern USA” – done by University of Oklahoma sociologist Meredith Worthen and published in Sexuality Research and Social Policy.

The study explored sexuality and gender gaps in political perspectives among college students enrolled at a university in the southern US (N = 1,940). Specifically, the study explored sexual identity (lesbian, gay, bisexual, mostly heterosexual, and heterosexual); gender (man/woman); and the intersections among sexual identity and gender as they relate to politicized perspectives (liberal ideology and feminist identity) and support of politicized issues (death penalty and legal abortion).

“It is hypothesized that liberal social justice perspectives may be particularly common among LGB people as a group, and perhaps especially among lesbian and bisexual women due to their multiple oppressed identities,” stated in the study.

And – yes – the results confirmed sexuality gaps (heterosexual-LGB, MH-LGB, and B-LG) as well as gender gaps among MH and LGB students (MH women-MH men, bisexual women-bisexual men, gay men-lesbian women), though some gaps (B-LG and G-L) are in the opposite direction from expected.

In addition, there is evidence of a bisexual woman consciousness that relates to strong liberalism among bisexual college women.

The study also found that those who are “exclusively heterosexual” are “significantly” less likely to be liberal.

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So – yes – in a gist: Lesbian, gay and bisexual people are more likely to be liberal in their political views and attitudes to social issues.

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#KaraniwangLGBT

Photos from the fringes of the rainbow

How Outrage Magazine’s #KaraniwangLGBT eyes to help broaden LGBTQIA representation in the Philippines by documenting those at the fringes of the rainbow. As editor Michael David Tan said: “To really engage, we have to allow others to shine. Hopefully, in a small way, #KaraniwangLGBT does that.”

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On June 13, 2015, fashion designer Veejay Floresca – who happens to be a transgender woman – alleged that she was almost refused entry by high-end bar Valkyrie in Taguig City.

“Because: 1. that venue was frequented by the so-called ‘high and mighty’ and the social climbing crowd; 2. one of the owners of the venue is a local celebrity in the person of Vice Ganda; and 3. Floresca, herself, was a mini-celebrity, the ‘Valkyrie issue’ made a big splash in the news,” recalled Michael David C. Tan, editor of Outrage Magazine.

TV personality Boy Abunda – an openly gay man himself – interviewed Floresca in ABS-CBN; and national dailies like Inquirer and The Philippine Star tackled Floresca’s “almost non-entry” into an exclusive bar.

But also around that time – on June 22, 2015 – Michael David interviewed another transgender woman: Claire Balabbo. Claire was one of the 96 contractual employees of Tanduay Distillers Inc. in Cabuyao, Laguna who decided to launch a sudden strike after they were told on May 16, 2015 to stop reporting to work by May 18.

“While a handful of alternative media picked the picketers’ story (for instance, Altermidya), this story remained largely ignored,” Michael David said.

And for Tan, this highlighted a “sad reality”, an “imbalance that should embarrass us all” because of the “seemingly too apparent preference to provide coverage to the issues of the rich and famous; but not of those at the fringes of society.”

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Murielle

Ryan B.

Sarah

Vien

Aside from her issues as a contractual worker, Claire also encountered work-related discrimination as a trans woman – e.g. when she just started working for Tanduay Distillers Inc., the HR office allegedly forced her to cut her hair, else risk getting fired from work; and she was physically harassed at work, though the HR office allegedly just dismissed her claim since “all workers were ‘male’ anyway” and that the co-workers may have just been joking around (as boys do).

Particularly looking at the Valkyrie versus Tanduay issues superficially, one is about accessing a space to party; while the other is about being able to work decently to make a living.

This helped drive the development of #KaraniwangLGBT, with Michael David starting to photo-document “LGBTQIA Filipinos at the fringes of the rainbow,” he said.

Michael David said that “in no way is this effort belittling the issues raised in occurrences like the Valkyrie debacle – e.g. access to space. Instead, this is an attempt to ‘give face’ to those who do not usually have the same access to, say, media and representation.”

Aian

Aris

Bunny

Claire

#KaraniwangLGBT became a section in Outrage Magazine, with the effort to tell the stories of “common LGBTQIA people” bringing Michael David (and the staff of Outrage Magazine) all over the Philippines. And what – initially – started as a photo campaign evolved, with this section now also telling the stories of the subjects via write-ups and mini-documentaries.

READ:  #REDxSUMMER slated on March 29

To date, Michael David has already photographed/documented – among others – members of the LGBTQIA community who are also Moros, sex workers, church workers, HIV advocates, differently-abled/PWDs, PLHIVs, members of Lumad communities, contractual workers, homeless, victims of domestic abuse, et cetera.

Jelly Ace

Mara

Marimar

MMK

“To really engage, we have to allow others to shine,” Michael David said. “Hopefully, in a small way, #KaraniwangLGBT does that.”

n.b.
Following Floresca’s media tour, Valkyrie eventually amended its policy to allow trans women to party in its premises. But the “Valkyrie effect” was minimal – e.g. only Valkyrie made changes; and was Taguig City, where Valkyrie is located, still does not have an anti-discrimination ordinance, so venues there can still opt to implement discriminatory policies similar to what got Valkyrie in hot water.

Balabbo was not able to return to work. She now helps other contractual workers in other factories/plants in Laguna to organize to also fight for their rights.

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PSA tackles in Filipino Sign Language what happens after rapid HIV test

What happens after you get tested for HIV? Particularly to “help simplify the HIV discussion for the Deaf community in the Philippines,” a public service announcement was released on getting tested for HIV in the Philippines, and what happens after one gets tested.

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One of the biggest confusions re HIV testing in the Philippines is answering the question on “what happens after one gets tested for HIV,” said Disney Aguila, board member of Bahaghari Center for SOGIE Research, Education and Advocacy, Inc. (Bahaghari Center) and concurrent president of Pinoy Deaf Rainbow (PDR).

The confusion is not helped by numerous factors – e.g.: various testing facilities are, in a way, “autonomous”, so there are varying practices; and information about post-testing remains limited.

No matter the reason/s for the confusion, “the effect is the same: it discourages many people from getting HIV testing and/or screening,” Aguila said.

To demystify particularly rapid HIV screening to “help simplify the HIV discussion for the Deaf community in the Philippines,” a public service announcement (PSA) was released on getting tested for HIV in the Philippines, and what happens after one gets tested.

The PSA is the third in a series of PSAs produced as part of a Bahaghari Center project backed by a collaboration between Youth LEAD and Y-PEER (Asia Pacific Center), which eyed to address Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) needs of Young Key Populations (YKPs) in Asia and the Pacific.

PSA on HIV basics released in Filipino Sign Language

Particularly pertaining rapid HIV test, “we want to educate particularly Deaf Filipinos about post-testing – that, if you are non-reactive, there are steps you can do to stay non-reactive; and if you’re positive, help is available to help you access treatment, care and support (including getting antiretroviral medicines) so you can live a long, healthy life.”

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PSA on getting tested for HIV released in Filipino Sign Language

Aguila stressed that knowing one’s HIV status is important to protect oneself and others around him/her.

If one is HIV-positive, then he/she can start taking antiretroviral medicine (ARV) that will prevent the HIV (virus) from replicating and thereby help him/her stay healthy and live longer/normal lives.

And if one is HIV-negative, then he/she can take steps to stay negative (for example, by practicing safer sexual practices).

“It starts with getting oneself tested,” Aguila said, “which is why we encourage people to get tested.”

Most hospitals and clinics can give HIV testing.

Social hygiene clinics (SHC) located in select barangays can also give HIV testing and/or HIV screening.

Various non-government organizations also offer HIV testing and/or screening.

There are also people who are certified to give rapid HIV test.

A series of community-based HIV testing trainings are given to select members of the Deaf community in Metro Manila/Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao is to “empower members of the Deaf community to be more proactive in dealing with HIV by allowing the Deaf to help the Deaf.” These trainings are provided by The Red Ribbon Project, Inc.

Other supporters of the project include: Outrage Magazine, Fringe Publishing, Pinoy Deaf Rainbow, TransDeaf Philippines, Deaf Dykes United and Pinoy Deaf Queer.

Continue Reading

Editor's Picks

PSA on getting tested for HIV released in Filipino Sign Language

To demystify particularly rapid HIV testing/screening to “help simplify the HIV discussion for the Deaf community in the Philippines,” a public service announcement (PSA) was released on the getting tested for HIV in the Philippines.

Published

on

Getting tested for HIV is – as it is – already challenging for Hearing people, but “it can be argued that this is doubly difficult for Deaf people,” said Disney Aguila, board member of Bahaghari Center for SOGIE Research, Education and Advocacy, Inc. (Bahaghari Center) and concurrent president of Pinoy Deaf Rainbow (PDR). This is because “aside from dealing with the ‘usual’ issues related to getting tested for HIV that are encountered by Hearing people (including dealing with stigma and discrimination), we also have to contend with language barrier.”

Eyeing to demystify particularly rapid HIV testing/screening to “help simplify the HIV discussion for the Deaf community in the Philippines,” a public service announcement (PSA) was released on the getting tested for HIV in the Philippines.

The PSA is actually one in three PSAs produced as part of a Bahaghari Center project backed by a collaboration between Youth LEAD and Y-PEER (Asia Pacific Center), which eyed to address Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) needs of Young Key Populations (YKPs) in Asia and the Pacific.

PSA on HIV basics released in Filipino Sign Language

Particularly pertaining rapid HIV test, “we want to educate people that all it takes is a prick, and a person can already find out his/her HIV status… in less than 20 minutes,” Aguila said.

Knowing one’s HIV status is important, Aguila added, as a means to: protect oneself and others around him/her.

If one is HIV-positive, then he/she can start taking antiretroviral medicine (ARV) that will prevent the HIV (virus) from replicating and thereby help him/her stay healthy and live longer/normal lives.

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And if one is HIV-negative, then he/she can take steps to stay negative (for example, by practicing safer sexual practices).

“But it all starts with getting oneself tested,” Aguila said, “which is why we encourage people to get tested.”

If these are more accessible, most hospitals and clinics can give HIV testing.

Social hygiene clinics (SHC) located in select barangays can also give HIV testing and/or HIV screening.

Various non-government organizations also offer HIV testing and/or screening.

There are also people who are certified to give rapid HIV test.

A series of community-based HIV testing trainings are given to select members of the Deaf community in Metro Manila/Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao is to “empower members of the Deaf community to be more proactive in dealing with HIV by allowing the Deaf to help the Deaf.” These trainings are provided by The Red Ribbon Project, Inc.

Other supporters of the project include: Outrage Magazine, Fringe Publishing, Pinoy Deaf Rainbow, TransDeaf Philippines, Deaf Dykes United and Pinoy Deaf Queer.

Continue Reading
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