LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA – That “the youth is the hope of the father-/motherland” is an oft-repeated statement, turning it (not surprisingly) into a cliché, still accurate but… seemingly banal. The truth in this is, of course, unmistakable – i.e. tatanda at papanaw lahat, at ang mga mas bata ang, eventually, magmamana ng mundo. This is why it is understandable that emphasis is given on the youth (and the future we’re leaving them). And this, obviously, includes the LGBTQIA community – e.g. this year’s ILGA World Conference 2022 focused on the youth, hoping to elevate their issues, thereby empowering them as they face a world that continues to be not-that-accepting of people of diverse SOGIESC (including LGBTQIA people, obviously).
This is good and well.
Though – let me stress – at least for me, only to an extent.
This is one of the big, BIG takeouts for me at the international gathering; mainly because it reminded me of the continuing divisions created even in advocacy works, all stressing to me the need to actually practice the “unity in diversity” messaging we keep throwing around.
The issues are many; but – to center this discussion at least – exemplifying this is this idea (that I still don’t completely grasp) of seemingly completely dumping the old to give way to the young. It’s almost as if it’s an either/or choice, which – for me – is unnecessary.
And before I get attacked for “counter ageism”, let me expound.
- Many of the issues that adversely affected LGBTQIA people in the past are actually still the same issues we’re facing now – e.g. in the Philippines, we still don’t have a national anti-discrimination law protecting the human rights of LGBTQIA people; local government units with anti-discrimination ordinances may still not have implementing rules and regulations (I’m looking at you, Davao City!), or are not properly implemented (Yes, you, Zamboanga City!); LGBTQIA relationships are still not recognized (and the likes of Sen. Joel Villanueva continue to get a seat in the Senate); we haven’t even started extensively discussing a gender recognition law to allow particularly transgender Filipinos to legally change their gender markers; HIV is still largely affecting members of the LGBTQIA community; etc.
So – you see – the world may be changing (e.g. young taking over from the old). But the issues continue to be the same. And sadly, these issues still affect every single LGBTQIA person, old and young.
- The faster pace of change may be symbolized by tech adoption – e.g. HIV-related services are promoted (even offered) through online sites (in the US as it is in Metro Manila at least, you can actually enroll to be able to access HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis via links from Grindr, Romeo, Twitter and Facebook).
On this, what doesn’t sit well with me is the existence (at all) of this assumption that tech use is ONLY in the domain of the young. And so the target populations of the existing tech-heavy services tend to be geared towards the young. If you don’t agree with me, consider this: To date in the Philippines, there is no HIV-related effort (both online and offline, come to think of it!) for senior gay and bi men even if they may still be at risk for HIV infection because of risky behaviors.
- While still in the US prior to the May elections in the Philippines, I noticed one of the late-emerging campaign strategies of the camp of VP Leni Robredo – i.e. to encourage older people to vote for #LeniKiko2022 because this is, supposedly, a move that will benefit the young, those who will “inherit the world”. For a while, my Facebook newsfeed contained posts from people who stated versions of “Mamamatay ka na lang, mag-iiwan ka pa ng problema sa amin.”
This “Do it for the youth” is – for me – actually ageist.
It takes away the agency of old people; that they can do what they want not solely for the benefit of the young, but also their own benefit. Buhay pa naman sila; may pangangailangan pa rin na sadyang specific sa kanila. At kung ang mga pangangailangang ito ay hindi pa nasagot, dapat ituring sila na bahagi rin ng lahat ng programa.
This extends to the LGBTQIA community, obviously – e.g. For those who actually know of any LGBTQIA fellowships for over 45s, surprise me by informing me (LOL). It’s as if we’re creating a “more welcoming world” through segregation.
In the youth-centric Western gay community, there’s this notion that when you are over 30, you’re basically already dead (check that scene tackling Brian Kinney’s 30th birthday in the American version of Queer As Folk).
Not much has changed, apparently… including in the LGBTQIA advocacy.
Because now, we keep emphasizing that it’s a new world. But we tend to forget that the new world doesn’t only belong to the young; the same world is still also occupied by the not-so-young (and I haven’t even touched on other minority sectors within the LGBTQIA community yet, including PLHIVs, PWDs, sex workers, religious minorities, Indigenous Peoples, etc). And so long as everyone is affected by “old issues” (even if these are “amended” by the changing times), responses should be for everyone. Otherwise… we all fail together.