Minola Premium Coconut Oil has marked LGBT relationships.
In an ad released in time for Valentine’s Day this 2017, the relationship of a gay couple was shown as a celebration of “all kinds of love.”
The ad shows a man who, while heading home, sees various heterosexual couples celebrating their love. Playing is a music saying “It’s you I’m thinking of. Ain’t misbehaving. Saving all my love for you.”
Upon reaching home, he is served a meal by – surprise – his gay partner.
In its Facebook page, Minola stated that “loyalty, faithfulness, fidelity… (are) traits so easily kept when one is truly in love.”
According to Michael David dela Cruz Tan, editor of Outrage Magazine, the only LGBT publication in the Philippines, “this is a refreshing move from a somewhat unexpected source. While other (particularly Western) countries have long included LGBT representation in ads, these remain rare in the Philippines, and representations have been criticized for being stereotypical (e.g. PLDT’s ‘Joey’ series). We can only hope for this to become the norm, as our relationships (among others) become accepted as no different from others – formed and kept by love and respect for those involved in the relationships.”
Perhaps more prominently, in 2000, the Philippine Advertising Congress already highlighted the pink market. But even earlier than that, in July 1991, the concept of the pink currency was already noted by the conservative Wall Street Journal, which referred to the gay and lesbian community as a “dream market”, estimated to be worth over $610 billion in 2005 alone.
This market remains largely untapped in the Philippines.
With the ad, Minola joins the likes of Smart and even the infamous Bench in showing LGBT living in the Philippines.
56% are horny, but 70% of gay & bi men, and trans people are abstaining from sex due to Covid-19 – study
Under Covid-19 lockdown, 40% of respondents are feeling hot and bothered in lockdown. This increases to 55% in 18-24’s. But 70% are not meeting for dates or sex.
To better understand the unprecedented, global impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on gay, bi men and trans people, ROMEO (PlanetRomeo) released the results from its international COVID-19 outlook survey. The Europe-based dating platform shows a snapshot of how the pandemic is affecting LGBT+ life.
75,840 ROMEO users responded to 11 questions about health, economy, sex, travel, and how they are coping with the lockdown, and the results are… interesting.
57% ARE FEELING POSITIVE
Overall people are positive, 57% state they are feeling good to very good. France is leading the world positive mood with 65% placing themselves in this category, a stark contrast to their UK neighbors who are coming in at just 44%. India’s spirits are the hardest hit with only 23% feeling good.
40% ARE VERY HORNY
40% of respondents are feeling hot and bothered in lockdown. This increases to 55% in 18-24’s. When it comes to the horniest countries, Spain is topping the charts in Europe at 49% and India leading the rest of the world at 56%.
70% ABSTAINING FROM MEETING FOR SEX
70% of ROMEO users are not meeting for dates or sex. This number increases in countries with stricter rules, Italy and Spain (86%). Germany and Sweden rank lowest at 61% and 62% respectively. 48% of respondents are dating online only during the lockdown.
ECONOMY IS MORE WORRYING THAN HEALTH
On the subject of health and financial future, users are more worried about the economic impact of Covid-19 then health. 43% state they are worried about their health, while 50% fear for their financial future. This spikes in India, 73% worry about what is to come financially. Only 32% of Spain’s respondents are worried about their health. Younger respondents (18-25) fear more for their financial future than the over 65’’s (45% are not worried at all).
57% FEAR FOR GAY COMMUNITY
With the real economic impact still to be realized, we asked if people feared for the future of their local LGBT+ community. Small businesses and community organizations can be a lifeline for many. Globally 35% said they were concerned. The UK is the least concerned at 20% and Germany the most at 46%. The 45-65 age group are the most worried. 45% of 18-35 are not worried at all.
40% AGREE WITH LOCKDOWN MEASURES
40% of the respondents think their country’s measures were just right. 32% felt they could be stricter or were not strict enough. France and the UK are the least satisfied with Government measures, 53% of French and 49% of UK users think their country should have stricter rules. In Sweden, where there was a different approach to lockdown, 56% claim their government got things right.
1 in 5 HAVE LOST THEIR MOJO
COVID-19 is proving to be a mood killer, 21% of respondents stated they have no interest in dating during this period. 35-54 age range accounts for nearly half of this figure. Spanish users are experiencing a dampening of desire the most at 40%.
SUMMER VACATIONS WILL BE CLOSE TO HOME
Overseas travel is on hold for 2020. 73% of people do not have plans to travel outside their country. Spain leads this at 85%. Some UK respondents still are hoping for a vacation this year with 29% planning overseas holidays, and 31% undecided.
COUPLES ARE THRIVING
Of the 31,899 people with partners, 17% claim that they are getting on better than usual. USA and India top this at 29%, and the UK is just behind at 27%. Italy which has experienced one of the longest periods of lockdown is unsurprisingly behind the global average at 14%.
New report documents amplified impact of COVID-19 on LGBTQIA people
While Covid-19 leaves no country and no individual unaffected, the pandemic imposes specific challenges among LGBTQIA people.
Covid-19 shatters the rainbow.
While Covid-19 leaves no country and no individual unaffected, the pandemic imposes specific challenges among LGBTQIA people. This is according to OutRight Action International’s “Vulnerability Amplified: The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on LGBTIQ people”, which documents the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on LGBTQIA people.
Drawing on almost 60 rapid research interviews conducted with LGBTQIA people in all regions of the world, some of the specific challenges faced by LGBTQIA people identified in the report are:
- Devastation of livelihoods – rising food and shelter insecurity resulting from job loss, and economic fall out as a result of over-representation of LGBTQIA people in the informal sector and broad employment discrimination;
- Disruptions in accessing health care, including crucial HIV medication and gender affirming treatments, and reluctance to seek health care due to discrimination, stigma and refusal of services experienced by LGBTQIA people even outside a pandemic;
- Elevated risk of domestic and family violence – the most prevalent form of violence faced by LGBTQIA people on a day-to-day basis is heightened in circumstances of lockdowns, curfews and lack of access to support services and community resources;
- Social isolation and increased anxiety which are further heightened by being cut off from chosen families and the LGBTQIA community;
- Scapegoating, societal discrimination and stigma – there is an unfortunate history of LGBTQIA people being blamed for emergency situations, leading to further stigmatization, marginalization, violence and danger;
- Abuse of state power – repression, exclusion, and criminalization are all on the rise in countries prone to authoritarianism and regressive gender ideologies, with some states using the emergency situation to clamp down specifically on LGBTQIA people;
- Concerns about organizational survival – amplifying the effects even further are the impacts on LGBTQIA community organizations and spaces, which are a lifeline to countless LGBTQIA people. Organizations now face an uncertain future with funding cuts, lockdowns, and having to shift activities on line while calls for direct, practical support are on the rise.
According to the executive director of OutRight Action International, Jessica Stern: “COVID-19 and the surrounding containment measures affect everyone, everywhere. But those most marginalized feel it more. Even in the absence of a pandemic, LGBTQIA people experience higher levels of discrimination, violence and deprivation around the world. Now we are at a heightened risk of domestic and family abuse, we lack access to crucial HIV and gender affirming medication, get scapegoated for the pandemic, and excluded from relief efforts, while being cut off from LGBTQIA organizations and support networks. For us the situation is dire. I fear how many LGBTQIA people will lose their lives because of the amplified vulnerability we face. We need immediate action from governments, the UN, and the philanthropic sector to prevent an LGBTQIA humanitarian crisis.”
The results of the research report are reinforced by initial data from applications to OutRight’s COVID-19 Global LGBTIQ Emergency Fund. Within a month of opening for applications, OutRight received over 1,500 requests for help from LGBTIQ organizations across the world, the vast majority requesting resources to alleviate food and shelter insecurity. As ever, LGBTIQ organizations are being called on to step in where other institutions fail to safeguard LGBTIQ people’s health, safety and wellness.
‘Remember. And continue acting.’ – BC marks IACM 2020
There are issues that continue to make the lives of PLHIVs, particularly in resource-limited location like the Philippines, difficult. This is stressed by the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial, marked to remember lives lost to AIDS.
In September 2015, Stephen Christian Quilacio asked Michael David dela Cruz Tan, editor in chief of Outrage Magazine and concurrent executive director of Bahaghari Center for SOGIE Research, Education and Advocacy, Inc. (Bahaghari Center) if he wanted to join a hospital visit to a person “suspected” to have HIV. At that time, Tan was visiting Cagayan de Oro City in Northern Mindanao, documenting HIV-related efforts of faith-based organizations (FBOs) for the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP).
Lor’s case was “suspected” because, while he kept saying he already had himself tested and that he’s HIV-negative, the attending physicians may have known otherwise but were still waiting for the patient’s confirmatory test result (from Metro Manila).
“Lor (not his real name) was having a hard time doing just about everything,” recalled Quilacio, who is also Bahaghari Center’s northern Mindanao coordinator. But “through it all, he was adamant in denying the probability that he may have HIV.”
Two weeks after that hospital visit, Lor passed away; this time, from confirmed AIDS-related complications.
Lor’s case is actually still not rare.
From October to December 2019 in the Philippines, for instance, 116 people died from AIDS-related complications. From January 1984 to end-December 2019, 3,730 Filipinos with HIV already died. And – this is worth stressing – this is only the reported cases, which may be lower than the real figures because of under- or non-reporting.
For Tan, the saddest part of this is that “we’re at a time when we’re often told that HIV is no longer a death sentence.” He added that “for many, it still is.”
And exactly because many lives continue to be lost to HIV and/or AIDS that the world marks the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial (IACM) every 17th of May, as a time for everyone to remember these lives lost. Started in 1983, IACM has since evolved to also honor those who dedicate their lives to helping people living with and affected by HIV.
Themed “We remember – We take action – We live beyond HIV“, this year’s IACM is said to be “much more than just a memorial” as “it serves as a community mobilization campaign to raise social consciousness about HIV and AIDS. With almost 38 million people living with HIV today, (it) serves as an important intervention for global solidarity, breaking down barriers of stigma and discrimination, and giving hope to new generations.”
“This is apt,” said Quilacio, “because even now, we still need to act to really make an impact on HIV.”
STILL AN ONGOING STRUGGLE
There are issues that continue to make the lives of PLHIVs, particularly in resource-limited location like the Philippines, difficult/challenging.
In the Philippines, at least, the HIV situation continues to worsen.
To start, the rate of infection keeps getting higher – i.e. 35 Filipinos now get infected with HIV every day. And from October to December 2019, there were 3,029 newly confirmed HIV-positive individuals reported to the HIV/ AIDS & ART Registry of the Philippines (HARP). Sixteen percent (474) had clinical manifestations of advanced HIV infection at the time of testing.
Younger people also continue to be infected with HIV. In HARP’s report, almost half of the October-December 2019 cases (49%, 1,475) were 25-34 years old, and 31% (926) were 15-24 years old at the time of diagnosis.
Then there’s the stigma that leads to discrimination, said Quilacio. “It remains common to hear stories about PLHIVs kicked out of their homes, or from work because of their HIV status.”
Close to Quilacio’s heart is the “disconnect” in the services offered in metropolitan areas versus those in provinces/rural areas. “As a Mindanawon activist, we know that there are supposedly ‘must-have’ services that are not provided to us – e.g. viral load, and even regular/steady supply of anti-retroviral medicines.”
And then there, too, is the profiteering that happens in the HIV community – e.g. organizations supposed to render life-saving services not doing so unless they profit from PLHIVs.
According to Ico Rodulfo Johnson, who helms The Red Ribbon Project, other issues have been emerging, seeming to steal attention away from HIV – e.g. Covid-19.
However, “despite (these), we continue to fight for our rights to improved health care, for awareness and education and against stigma and discrimination related to HIV,” he said. “The challenge is greater but our passion for the HIV advocacy is stronger.”
And this – the stronger passion that pushes people and/or organizations to act – is what’s needed.
CONTINUING THE STRUGGLE
Tan urges more action.
“From HIV testing to linking those who test positive to treatment/care/support services to holding non-performing treatment facilities responsible for their failure to do their mandates… a lot still needs to be done,” he said.
For its part, and among its HIV-related efforts, Bahaghari Center – with Outrage Magazine, The Project Red Ribbon, Pinoy Deaf Rainbow and TransDeaf Philippines – trained Deaf Filipinos on community-based HIV screening. This was because of the lack of readily available HIV counselors who know of Filipino Sign Language (FSL). This way, “we empower Deaf Filipinos to start testing among themselves, instead of relying on Hearing people who may not always be there for them.”
And then backed by 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 – Bahaghari Center released PSAs on HIV for Deaf Filipinos.
For Fritzie Caybot Estoque, past president of MOCAN – an organization providing support to HIV-infected and -affected Filipinos in Mindanao: “We can’t afford to be complacent. We need to do more.”
Estoque – like Johnson – noted how the Covid-19 pandemic “has taught us one good lesson – that stigma and discrimination can do harm more than the disease itself.” And so she calls for people to “end it.”
“To make us more compassionate, extensive and effective, education is still a must both for HIV… and (in this case, also) Covid-19. We can’t afford to be complacent. Still. All the more,” Estoque said.
And so for Tan, “yes, let’s remember – the people whose lives were cut short by HIV, the advocates who paved the way and those who continue working to curb HIV, etc. But let this also be a call for us not to stop now.”
From Voldemort to Vader, science says we prefer fictional villains who remind us of ourselves
“Perhaps fiction provides a way to engage with the dark aspects of your personality without making you question whether you are a good person in general.”
As people binge watch TV shows and movies during this period of physical distancing, they may find themselves eerily drawn to fictional villains, from Voldemort and Vader to Maleficent and Moriarty. Rather than being seduced by the so-called dark side, the allure of evil characters has a reassuringly scientific explanation.
According to new research published in the journal Psychological Science, people may find fictional villains surprisingly likeable when they share similarities with the viewer or reader.
This attraction to potentially darker versions of ourselves in stories occurs even though we would be repulsed by real-world individuals who have similarly immoral or unstable behaviors. One reason for this shift, the research indicates, is that fiction acts like a cognitive safety net, allowing us to identify with villainous characters without tainting our self-image.
“Our research suggests that stories and fictional worlds can offer a ‘safe haven’ for comparison to a villainous character that reminds us of ourselves,” [RK1] says Rebecca Krause, a PhD candidate at Northwestern University and lead author on the paper. “When people feel protected by the veil of fiction, they may show greater interest in learning about dark and sinister characters who resemble them.”
Academics have long suggested people recoil from others who are in many ways similar to themselves yet possess negative features such as obnoxiousness, instability, and treachery. Antisocial features in someone with otherwise similar qualities, the thinking goes, may be a threat to a person’s image of themselves.
“People want to see themselves in a positive light,” notes Krause. “Finding similarities between oneself and a bad person can be uncomfortable.” In contrast, Krause and her coauthor and advisor Derek Rucker find that putting the bad person in a fictional context can remove that discomfort and even reverse this preference. In essence, this separation from reality attenuates undesirable and uncomfortable feelings.
“When you are no longer uncomfortable with the comparison, there seems to be something alluring and enticing about having similarities with a villain,” explains Rucker.
“For example, people who see themselves as tricky and chaotic may feel especially drawn to the character of The Joker in the Batman movies, while a person who shares Lord Voldemort’s intellect and ambition may feel more drawn to that character in the Harry Potter series,” said Krause.
To test this idea, the researchers analyzed data from the website CharacTour, an online, character-focused entertainment platform that had approximately 232,500 registered users at the time of analysis. One of the site’s features allows users to take a personality quiz and see their similarity to different characters who had been coded as either villainous or not. Villains included characters such as Maleficent, The Joker, and Darth Vader. Nonvillains included Sherlock Holmes, Joey Tribbiani, and Yoda.
The anonymous data from these quizzes allowed the researchers to test whether people were attracted toward or repulsed by similar villains, using nonvillains as a baseline. Not surprisingly, people were drawn to nonvillains as their similarity increased. However, the results further suggested that users were most drawn to villains who share similarities with them.
The researchers believe that similarities to story villains do not threaten the self in the way real-life villains would.
“Given the common finding that people are uncomfortable with and tend to avoid people who are similar to them and bad in some way, the fact that people actually prefer similar villains over dissimilar villains was surprising to us,” notes Rucker. “Honestly, going into the research, we both were aware of the possibility that we might find the opposite.”
The current data do not identify which behaviors or characteristics the participants found attractive. Further research is needed to explore the psychological pull of villains and whether people are drawn toward similar villains in fiction because people look for chances to explore their own personal dark side.
“Perhaps fiction provides a way to engage with the dark aspects of your personality without making you question whether you are a good person in general,” concludes Krause.
Gender-based violence in the COVID-19 pandemic
Gender-based violence has been shown to increase during global emergencies. And according to early evidence, it is the same for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gender-based violence has been shown to increase during global emergencies. And in a paper published by Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, researchers report that according to early evidence it is the same for the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings are online in the journal Bioethics.
Early results from China suggest that domestic violence has dramatically increased. For example, a police station in China’s Hubei Province recorded a tripling of domestic violence reports in February 2020 during the COVID-19 quarantine. Other reports suggest that police have been reluctant to intervene and detain perpetrators due to COVID-19 outbreaks in prisons.
“Gender norms and roles relegating women to the realm of care work puts them on the frontlines in times of crisis, resulting in greater risk of exposure while excluding them from developing the response,” said Terry McGovern, chair of the Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health at Columbia Mailman School, director of the Program on Global Health Justice and Governance, and senior author of the study.
- Globally women perform three-quarters of unpaid care work, including household disease prevention and care for sick relatives, and there is not a country in the world where men provide an equal share of unpaid care work.
- In China’s Hubei province, 90% of frontline healthcare workers are women as in many other parts of the world.
However, the researchers make the point that it is not too late to include the voices of women in tackling COVID-19:
- Governments can incorporate gender considerations into their response.
- Technology can be leveraged to ensure women continue to receive essential services when they need them most. For example, emergency services and victim support can be maintained via text, phone, and online services.
- Telemedicine should be considered an alternative and secure way to provide women and girls access to contraceptives and abortion medication.
“Recognizing, valuing, supporting women’s roles and giving them a voice in global health governance can go a long way in avoiding unintended consequences, building resilient healthcare systems, and reducing intersectional inequalities and vulnerabilities across gender, race, class and geography,” noted Neetu John, first author and assistant professor in Columbia Mailman School’s Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health, and the co-authors.
Co-authors of the study include: Sara Casey, Columbia Mailman School; and Giselle Carino, International Planned Parenthood Federation.
LGBTQ military service members at higher risk of sexual harassment, assault, stalking
Military leaders and health care providers should be more educated about identifying victimization experiences and providing supports that are inclusive of LGBTQ people who have experienced sexual harassment, assault or stalking. With an increased understanding of those experiences, leaders can pinpoint targets for intervention to help stop sexual violence before it happens.
A recent study found that LGBTQ service members face an elevated risk of sexual victimization including harassment, assault and stalking while in the military than their non-LGBTQ counterparts.
The study, one of the first funded by the Department of Defense (DND) in the US to look specifically at LGBTQ victimization in the military, aims to inform future polices that will identify vulnerable populations and appropriate interventions to help prevent such experiences going forward.
Previous research has found that experiencing sexual harassment and assault during military service can lead to negative health outcomes including PTSD, depression, substance use and suicidal behavior, all of which are often reported at higher rates among LGBTQ veterans than in the straight cisgender population.
“We’re really trying to understand the experiences and well-being of LGBTQ service members and help the military learn how they can improve those experiences,” said lead author Ashley Schuyler, a Ph.D. student in OSU’S College of Public Health and Human Sciences. “Our findings suggest that LGBTQ service members do experience an elevated risk of sexual and stalking victimization, even in this post-‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ era.”
“Don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) was the official US policy on military service by gays, bisexuals and lesbians. The term was coined after former US Pres. Bill Clinton signed a law (consisting of statute, regulations and policy memoranda) directing that military personnel “don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t pursue, and don’t harass.” When DADT went into effect on October 1, 1993, the policy (in theory) lifted the ban on homosexual service that had been instituted during World War II; but (in effect) it continued a statutory ban.
In December 2010 both the US House of Representatives and Senate voted to repeal the policy, with former US Pres. Barack Obama signing the legislation on December 22. The policy officially ended on September 20, 2011.
Published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress, the newer study surveyed 544 active-duty service members, ages 18-54, including about 41% who identified as LGBTQ and roughly 10% who identified as trans or gender-nonconforming.
DADT, the law that barred openly gay, lesbian and bisexual people from serving in the military, was repealed in 2011, but “it seems like some of those effects could linger, including sexual prejudice and discrimination, which may elevate victimization risk,” Schuyler said.
The researchers considered that the culture of the military, with a high value placed on “masculine” ideals such as dominance, aggression and self-sufficiency, may compel some individuals to act out toward people they see as weaker to prove their masculinity to others.
That environment may explain a disparity between men and women in the study: Female service members were more likely to experience sexual harassment than male service members, but the risk of harassment did not increase among women who identified as lesbian or bisexual. Among male service members, however, gay and bisexual men were significantly more likely to experience sexual harassment than straight men.
“Our conclusion was that female service members have such an elevated risk of sexual harassment in general, that being bi or lesbian doesn’t increase that risk,” Schuyler said.
Among all service members in the sample, those identifying as gay, lesbian or bisexual had an increased risk of sexual harassment, stalking and sexual assault compared to heterosexual service members.
More research is needed on how stalking manifests in the military, Schuyler said. It may look different on board a ship with service members confined in close quarters for months at a time, for example.
“Something the military has started to acknowledge is this idea of a continuum of harm, where if you experience sexual harassment or gender discrimination behaviors, you’re at higher risk of more severe encounters down the road, like assault,” she said. “We’re trying to understand where stalking fits into that spectrum of experiences, so we can intervene to help people who we know experience harassment or stalking and prevent potential assault in the future.”
The researchers recommend further investigation into victimization in the military, especially as the policies governing LGBTQ service continue to change. Such research was not possible during the DADT era.
The Philippines is no better than the US, of course.
For instance, as noted by a UNDP report, in 2009, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) stated that the Philippines has zero tolerance for discrimination within the military ranks. Nonetheless, the AFP Code of Ethics has provisions that can be used to discriminate against lesbian and gay members of the military. An example is Article 5 (Military Professionalism) Section 4.3 (Unethical Acts) of the AFP Code of Ethics, which states:
“Military personnel shall likewise be recommended for discharge/separation for reason of unsuitability due to all acts or omissions which deviate from established and accepted ethical and moral standards of behavior and performance as set forth in the AFP Code of Ethics. The following are examples: Fornication, Adultery, Concubinage, Homosexuality, Lesbianism, and Pedophilia.”
Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) also stated that it does not oppose members of the LGBTQIA community from becoming law enforcers, even if there is still a need to cite the biological gender of the applicants in the application forms.
Schuyler said they’d like to see military leaders and health care providers be more educated about identifying victimization experiences and providing supports that are inclusive of LGBTQ people who have experienced sexual harassment, assault or stalking. With an increased understanding of those experiences, leaders can pinpoint targets for intervention to help stop sexual violence before it happens.
Co-authors on the study were Cary Klemmer, Mary Mamey, Sheree Schrager, Jeremy Goldbach, Ian Holloway and Carl Castro from the University of Southern California.
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