Last year, a politician openly told me a hard truth about the Filipino LGBT community, i.e. that it is EXTREMELY divided. But then he added that we should learn to unite by backing a “leader” who happens to be a friend of his.
I couldn’t help myself from reprimanding him, telling him that he is part of the problem of the disunity of the LGBT community – i.e. when dealing with the LGBT community, he only coordinates with this person he recognizes as our “leader” even if the LGBT community as a whole does not accept this same person as such.
This politician isn’t the first to do this, of course. You only have to look at so many of the “leaders” being interviewed on behalf of the ENTIRE LGBT community to see where I’m coming from…
Yes, I get it.
- This continues to be a lookist society, so we end up getting someone “pretty” speak for us. If the one speaking isn’t necessarily pretty, No. 2 (below) applies.
- This continues to be an elitist society, and often, only those who have access to power (including mainstream media) get the chance to speak/be heard.
- Those in positions of power tend to move ONLY within their circles, so only those belonging to No. 1 and/or No. 2 are heard.
But these are the very reasons why, particularly in the LGBT community, “B.S. advocacy” persists (and even triumphs).
There are extremely well-compensated people who are supposed to help deal with the worsening HIV situation in the Philippines. I once asked one of them (whose Facebook wall is inundated by non-stop touring around the world disguised as “reaching out”, as well as incessant shopping) if there’s a plan to visit – even once – a treatment hub in the Philippines where the very people they claim to serve are continuing to die due to (among others) lack of funds. I was told: “No.” This person now just ignores me… while the world tour and incessant shopping continue…
I know of a Metro Manila-based NGO that is pushing for an anti-discrimination ordinance in a city outside of Metro Manila because an international funder is (sort of) demanding it. So they’re pushing for this… sans the involvement of the local LGBT community.
There are people with the global platform to speak about HIV, and yet publicly shame people living with HIV.
I know of people representing the entire LGBT community while pushing for the anti-discrimination bill (ADB), but won’t engage those who will question their version of the bill.
But sadly, so many of these people are the ones we see; the ones we hear from; the ones who claim to represent us.
And just as sadly, the current power structures keep them there.
And it is these structures that we need to dismantle if we want the LGBT community to be strengthened, even if not “united”. Only if we dismantle these structures will we be able to hear about the REAL issues, not those mouthed by people who are just there to perpetuate the status quo to sustain positions of power.
Yes, we have space/s for everyone. In fact, the spotlight for representation is – in theory – big enough to accommodate those who are willing to die for the cause, and those who just want to profit from it.
But we need to start distinguishing advocates from “advocates”; we need to see beyond this cult of personalities, where select people who do not necessarily do anything to advance our causes benefit from our sufferings.
This is our duty as members of the (still divided) LGBT community.
We also need to start calling out not only the latter, but those that promote them.
Because if we don’t, then the “B.S. advocacy” will just thrive.
And what about that politician?
He went quiet when I presented to him my position about his friend, who he says we all should just back blindly. I am not sure he’d listen (I was told he’s somewhat hardheaded). But I sure won’t stop raising this up – including to him if he, again, ONLY speaks to his friend as a representative of the entire LGBT community…