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On the ongoing fight for LGBTQIA human rights, according to Floyd Scott Tiogangco

Meet Floyd Scott Tiogangco, 2018 Outstanding Young Human Rights Defender awardee of Amnesty International – Philippines. “I really do think we need more young ones to be speaking up and doing the job,” he said. “We need fresher ideas on how to continue pushing our issues forward.”

MAIN PHOTO BY CHARLON KIM; COURTESY OF FLOYD SCOTT TIOGANGCO

Looking back, Floyd Scott Tiogangco thinks he started standing up for LGBTQIA human rights in high school, when “I made sure I will not be bullied by my straight male classmates because I was out and loud.”

One time, Floyd and other “skinny and femme boys” were “forced” to do an interpretative dance number (as part of a school project), and they were supposed to lift the other dancers instead of the muscular classmates doing this. The reasoning at that time was that interpretative dancing was “for gay men”, so – even if they participated – straight men would only be “passive participants”.

“That’s when I realized I had to fight back somehow,” Floyd said.

And since then, “my being an LGBTQIA advocate just continued (even when I went to) college, and then was amplified by DAKILA Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism in which I am a member of.”

For Floyd, “when you are a loud and a femme boy in your teenage years, I think it will always occur to you that you can easily become vulnerable to teasing and jokes that can dangerously put you into believing that it is okay to be made fun of, or that you are weak or that you have to be ashamed of who you are. I believe my trigger was me being gay, really. It has to come from the deepest and realest parts of myself for me to become wiser, braver, and be able to speak up about my experiences and humanity as a queer person now.”

FOCUS ON LGBTQIA ISSUES

Even when he was young, Floyd already knew he’s different. He came out as gay in high school, with family members accepting him; and then came out again as genderqueer later, this time not supported (and fully understood) by those close to him particularly since he told them he wanted to “wear skirts and dresses”.

Floyd’s life was, eventually, covered by “Slay”, a film by Cha Roque (with DOP Monique Laurel, and camera operator Ymi Castel).

Suffice to say, Floyd’s gender expression make many treat him differently. One time, buses won’t let him board; another time, a mall guard refused to let him enter. It’s a struggle, Floyd said, that “keeps me going.”

Floyd added: “I believe it is very important to focus on the fact that there are still many of us who experience outright discrimination, even killed – at home, in school, in workplaces…”

COVID-19 worsened this for many, since “many of us are jobless and are barely surviving now that we are in this pandemic. In a time of social, political, and health crisis, survival becomes urgent. Every issue that threatens our life, livelihood, and lifestyle should be focused on. All of these can only be addressed with a policy at hand that protects our rights and dignities, amplifies our voices, and gives our basic needs. SOGIE Equality Bill has to be passed into law or we will continue to suffer more than we could endure.”

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STRUGGLE WITHIN

Some of the issues faced by the LGBTQIA community come from within the LGBTQIA community.

“What really disappoints me in the local LGBTQIA community is that we are afraid to scratch at the surface and dig deeper in our relationship with each other,” said Floyd. “Takot tayong pag-usapan ang mga bagay-bagay (We are afraid to tackle issues). Instead, we resort to issues that have long been discussed over and over again. Yet, we still have internalized homophobia and transphobia within ourselves, even misogyny and sexism, the never-ending microagrresion within the community, and most importantly the seemingly acceptable cases of abuse done to us by either a fellow LGBTQIA person or some cishetero people.”

Floyd noticed, for instance, the rise of alter communities where “we still accept statements like ‘Sino ang nakauna sayo? Pinsan or tito ko.’ Rampant ang mga ganitong statements sa (Statements like these are rampant in) alter long after it boomed. These are forms of abuse and shall be put to light. Hindi na tayo nakawala sa narrative at kultura na ito (We fail to veer away from this narrative). Ever noticed how, when you ask a gay man about his sexual awakening, he will almost always reveal that at some point it happened with a family relative often without consent? It is disgusting and wrong. Kailangan natin ng sarili natin ng (We need our own) #MeToo movement.”

For Floyd: “In this day and age, I think we should be able to talk about things that actually hurt us and make us become better people. No issue should be swept under the rug no matter how difficult it is to discuss because more than anything, we need to grow as a community. Discourses on the LGBTQIA struggles should always be evolving, never stagnant, and should be taken openly but safely if we are to survive.”

SOURCES OF INSPIRATION

There are some sources of inspiration for Floyd.

For instance, there is “our fighting spirit (that) never fades,” he said.

There is also “our sense of solidarity with other sectors… It is commendable of the community that we do not just fight for ourselves but for other people as well.”

And then there’s the fun – i.e. “that we never cease to do things with fun,” Floyd said.

MOVING FORWARD

Moving forward including in LGBTQIA advocacy, Floyd said “I really do think we need more young ones to be speaking up and doing the job. We need fresher ideas on how to continue pushing our issues forward especially with the rise of platforms like Tiktok, etc.”

In fact, he believes that “kayang gawin ito ng mga mas bagets sa atin (younger ones can do the job). We just need to hone and maximize our young people’s full potential in doing this work for it to continue. Hindi pwedeng tayo tayo pa rin (It can’t always be us)… I am not going anywhere but I would really love to see younger LGBTQIA persons taking full responsibility.”

In 2018, Floyd was was awarded by Amnesty International – Philippines with an award (as part of its IGNITE Awards) – i.e. Outstanding Young Human Rights Defender.

And though this is one of the bigger recognitions received by Floyd, he said that “actually there is only one achievement that I am specifically most proud of. It’s that I am still here despite things that happened to me and continue to happen – personally and politically,” he said. “To be honest, it really is easy for me to end it all but I choose not to because there are still many things worth exposing, worth investigating, and worth fighting. I am here to continue.”

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And in the end, this is what the LGBTQIA community itself needs to continue doing – i.e. to continue the struggle – as it eyes for its members to finally be respected as equal members of, well, society…

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