The Philippines Bisexual Society (PBS) was established first as clan – that is, as an online gathering of self-identified bi* men – in 2008. At that time, since the founder was based in Cavite, it was called the Cavite Bisexual Society (CBS). Eventually, though, “chapters” were opened – first, for gay and bi men in Leyte and Biliran (called LBBS), followed by the Roxas City Bisexual Society (RCBS), then Cebu City Bisexual Society (CCBS), and then – finally – the umbrella Philippine Bisexual Society (PBS).
The intention was always clear: The desire to unite members of the Third Sex (sic) by building friendships for members of the LGBT community in various parts of the country.
Obviously, as clans go, ‘eye balls’ (EBs) were the main ways to physically meet the members. In Cavite, for instance, ‘grand EBs’ happen, though – because the online membership reached over 5,000 – smaller EBs were also necessary to keep the members connected. Venues for the EBs vary – from bars to houses of members, and to beaches (i.e. for RCBS).
Though the group started as an online gathering, eventually becoming a gathering of friends who go out to party, a “somewhat necessary evolution occurred.”
In response to the growing HIV infection rates particularly affecting men who have sex with men, PBS saw the need to start incorporating HIV-related lessons not only in the online sites of the chapters, but whenever meetings/EBs happen. In the Philippines, because of their reach, clans remain a population worth tapping to respond to the HIV situation.
As stressed by PBS’s leadership: “There is a need to teach (our members) on how to protect themselves.”
There remain challenges, particularly as the group continues to grow. For instance, the number of those willing to take leadership positions does not increase on a par with the increase in the number of members. For CBS, as an example, this meant that the over 5,000 members had to be served by only two administrators, who are often unable to cope with what the members upload. In fact, there have been times when Facebook deactivated the group’s account because some members post naked photos (against the site’s policies), with the administrators failing to monitor these. “You don’t give up, though; you just start afresh.”
With the growth – and in recognition of what the group can still do particularly as the number of members grows – partnerships with legitimate organizations are being considered. In Cavite, Bahaghari Foundation (an LGBT non-government organization) is already being tapped to provide HIV-related efforts – from workshops to testing to providing care and support to those who test HIV-positive.
And with this, who would have thought that what once was just a Facebook gathering of people looking to be with other people like them could become something more to help create a united front for members of the LGBT community.
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The clan’s official Facebook page is at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Philippines-Bisexual-Society/.