Marlon Toledo Lacsamana, co-founder of the Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch, recalled how he started becoming an LGBT advocate. “It was in 1998, when I was approached by the organizers of ProGAY Philippines to start a local chapter of the organization in UP Diliman,” he said. But then, he added: “I think that was nominal.”
“Nominal” because the real passion actually started “when I was fired from my job in a Roman Catholic college because I married my then partner in a holy union ritual conducted by Fr. Richard Mickley of the Order of Saint Aelred.” That was in 2005.
The felt discrimination was worsened by the killing of two of Marlon’s friends in a hate-related crime. “That passion fueled my desire to find justice when two of my gay friends were brutally murdered in 2009 – VJ Rubio who was strangled to death in March (2009) and Winton Ynion who was stabbed to death (at least 72 times) in September (2009),” he said. “I asked the community if there is an organization that can help me then to find justice for my friends. It was Outrage Magazine that asked me for more data (or if I have data) on the killings, so together with MCC-QC, we started collecting the names and the circumstances of the killings of LGBTs across the years.”
Fortunately for the LGBT community, “it was easy for me to look for cases since I am a librarian by profession, and archives research is easy, as well as browsing through newspapers and tabloids,” Marlon said.
For Marlon, the key issues that the LGBT community in the Philippines needs to focus on are “stigma and discrimination, sometimes leading to hate crimes.” Unfortunately, there remain challenges to do this, including, in his observation, the fragmentation of the LGBT community.
Nonetheless, the very fight to find justice for victims of killings/hate crimes is what serves as inspiration for Marlon, who is – as it is – already proud for “rocking the local community and making them see that hate crimes do happen in the country.”
Marlon intends to “continue fighting for full equality (that would include equal marriage advocacy),” he said. And when all is said and done, he simply wants to be remembered as “a feisty fighter for LGBT rights.”