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Living History: Impetus of LGBTQIA movement in Phl

The 1990s saw the formation of numerous LGBTQIA organizations in the Philippines, many of them championing LGBTQIA-related issues. So the 1990s may be when at least an impetus of the LGBTQIA movement emerged in the country. 

Formalized organizing.

As Michael L. Tan noted, as early as the 1960s-1970s, (particularly) gay men already formed organizations, albeit these were non-political. The 1970s, in fact, saw the formation of Kakasarian, a group that had members who were middle-class professionals who sought to champion gay rights. This group folded after less than a year, supposedly because bakla themselves did not see the need to fight for gay rights (Tan, 2001). The Home for the Golden Gays (then just called The Golden Gays) also marks its beginning in the 1970s.

Fast forward to the 1990s, when the formation of LGBTQIA organizations became prevalent. It is worth noting that during this period, championing LGBTQIA-related issues (among others) gave birth to many of these organizations, and then drove these organizations’ existence.

In fact, just prior to the first Pride march in 1994, various LGBTQIA organizations were already formed in the Philippines, so the 1990s may be when at least an impetus of the LGBTQIA movement emerged in the country.

Living History: Phl makes history with first Pride March in 1994

This is not intended to be a comprehensive list, but perhaps among the most noteworthy include:

  • ProGay Philippines, which was founded in 1993.
  • Metropolitan Community Church (which held its first mass in the Philippines in 1991) was established in 1992.
  • University of the Philippines (UP) Babaylan, the oldest LGBT student organization in the Philippines, was established also in 1992.

The spread of HIV helped galvanize the gay community in Western countries.  This similarly happened in the Philippines with the establishment of two Metro Manila-based NGOs, i.e.

  • The Library Foundation (then TLF) was established in 1990.
  • Remedios AIDS Foundation (though serving the general population, not just MSM) was established in 1991.
  • Katlo was established in 1992.

As per Michael L. Tan, most of the members of these organizations were self-identifying as “gay” and were conscious about building a gay community (Tan, 1995).

TLF, in particular, received funding from USAID to start the first HIV/AIDS prevention program for men who have sex with men (MSM) in the country. The work of TLF brought MSM to the attention of the government so that when the Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC) was established in 1995, it allocated one seat for MSM. TLF eventually became the TLF Sexuality, Health and Rights Educators Collective Inc. (TLF SHARE Collective).

Notable lesbian organizations that emerged in the 1990s included:

  • Metro Manila-based CLIC (Cannot Live In a Closet)
  • Lesbian Advocates Philippines (LeAP!)
  • Lesbond (based in Baguio City)

Tan earlier noted that in the 1990s, compared with gay men’s groups, the lesbian movement had a “comparatively low profile… and yet it (was) able to move with such unity” (Tan, 2001).

Sources:

Tan, M.L. (1995). Tita Aida and Emerging Communities of Gay Men: Two Case Studies from Metro Manila, the Philippines. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services. The Haworth Press Inc. Vol. 3(3), 31-38.

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Tan, M.L. (2001). Survival Through Pluralism: Emerging Gay Communities in the Philippines. Gay and Lesbian Asia: Culture, Identity, Community. Gerard Sullivan & Peter A. Jackson (Eds.). The Haworth Press Inc. 117-142.

UNDP, USAID (2014). “Being LGBT in Asia: The Philippines Country Report.” Bangkok.

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