This is part of #KaraniwangLGBTQIA, which Outrage Magazine officially launched on July 26, 2015 to offer vignettes of LGBT people/living, particularly in the Philippines, to give so-called “everyday people” – in this case, the common LGBTQIA people – that chance to share their stories.
As Outrage Magazine editor Michael David C. Tan says: “All our stories are valid – not just the stories of the ‘big shots’. And it’s high time we start telling all our stories.”
Thirty-two year old Wilfred Camins, Jr. (Freda Tora) knew as a kid that he’s different; but it was only when he turned 30 that he labeled himself as pansexual. “I noticed I was attracted to lesbians and transgender people… or people of different sexes. I wasn’t attracted to them only because of their sexes; it was a free flow of emotions, so I identified myself as pansexual,” he said.
FAMILY VERSUS COMMUNITY
The fourth of five kids in the family (and the only son), Freda Tora said his family was always accepting of him. “My family is okay with me being pansexual; my mom embraced me. But they don’t really ask about my SOGIESC. They see me as normal just as I am. I didn’t see any difference in the way they treated me while growing up until now, so I guess it’s okay with them,” he recalled.
But while his family was accepting, the community wasn’t.
“Growing up I experienced discrimination, like being called ‘Faggot!’, a ‘pest’, and told I’d amount to nothing in life. These were the words thrown my way,” Freda Tora said. “But while growing up, I had to show them that even gay people could achieve something in life.”
He added: “It was hard because, while growing up, you still don’t know yourself, are still finding yourself. But if you already know who you are, the value you can offer to the community, it becomes easier. As a pansexual person, as long as you can educate people, help them, then why be ashamed of what and who you are? As long as you can help the community to grow, you can help them understand who we are as LGBTQIA people, then it’s no longer difficult.”
Freda Tora is single, and “in a relationship with myself.”
He noted that when it comes to LGBTQIA relationships, “some people here are still close minded.”
He recalled one time, when he used a gay app to see how the local LGBTQIA community adapts to the changing times, “to see if we’re already open seeing men falling in love with other men. I discovered that many are still afraid to be out. This may be because of the different cultures in Zamboanga City – we have Muslims, we have Christians, and so on. These are hindrances for us to love and be out. For some it’s easy to find a relationship because they know who they are and accept themselves.”
For Freda Tora, “for me, we need to educate to remove the stigma. We need to educate people for them to know who and what they are, and what they can do. This way they’d stop hiding in the closet or from themselves.
FOCUS ON THE PANSEXUAL
Freda Tora noted the forced invisibility of pansexual people because for many, “we get tagged as bisexuals.”
So for him, “we really need to educate people about pansexuality. Some know of gays, bisexuals and other members of the LGBTQIA community… but not the pansexuals. For me, proper education, proper communication, proper information can tell people what pansexuality really is.
“We have a lot of cases of bullying in Zamboanga, where some people try to cancel your existence if you’re part of the LGBTQIA community,” said Freda Tora, adding – for emphasis – the case of one LGBTQIA person who was physically abused by teenagers while they were just walking on the streets. The city actually has an anti-discrimination policy supposed to protect the rights of LGBTQIA persons, but in that case, the abusers were basically given taps on the wrist because of their age (as minors) and because the victim ended up not pursuing the case.
“We need to deal with this to educate people about LGBTQIAs,” Freda Tora said. “If we can build a strong LGBTQIA organization in Zamboanga, we could lessen the bullying of LGBTQIA people here.”
He added: “To my fellow Zamboangueños, I know you will slowly accept LGBTQIA people because there are already a lot of us here in Zamboanga City. I hope you can embrace us and make us feel that we’re welcome. Let us feel that we’re normal. And from there, we can exist in a peaceful community where we can get respect. I hope people of Zamboanga City will be more open minded, and become more educated as far as our LGBTQIA community members are concerned.”
WORDS TO LIVE BY
“To other pansexuals, and other LGBTQIA persons, don’t be afraid to come out and show who you are and what you are. As long as you’re happy and do not hurt others. As long as you know who you are and what you’re capable of, then spread your wings and fly. Reach the rainbow; tell people who you are, and what your capabilities are,” Freda Tora said.
He knows, of course, that there are those still not accepting of LGBTQIA people – including family members.
And so “to those who have a hard time accepting LGBTQIA children, siblings and relatives, hopefully little by little you’ll get to know our community, and even who we are as individuals. Because we’re also human – we love, we hurt, we have feelings as well. I know it’s hard to be LGBTQIA. But we’re trying hard to give, and to love, not just for our families, but for the community and for everybody. I hope you’d open your doors, your hearts to let us in and understand us as well,” Freda Tora ended.