A Community of Their
Laughed at, insulted, discriminated,
beaten up, oppressed and exploited, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and
transgenders have been persistent in their struggle for their rights.
Slowly but surely, they have moved forward.
Pacificar and Bejay Absin
Angela Librado (above left) supports rights of LGBT community
Mikaila just finished
his first year college education from a local university. Yet he has been
initiated into the world of gays as a transgender long before. Growing up
among the city’s urban poor, pint-sized Mikaila has always been effeminate
Mikaila’s family never accepted that he is gay. When Mikaila allowed a
gay friend to shape his eyebrow, his father’s fear-hate for his sexuality
turned violent. Since then, his regular ration of beatings became
Mikaila remembers having bruises at different parts of his body but
confesses not missing those. Feeling the shame brought onto the family by
the brother who wears their mother’s dresses, older brothers joined their
father in beating Mikaila.
Four years ago, Mikaila shared having been raped by his own uncle. He did
not report the incident to members of his own family for fear of being
Sex, for some gays and even straight people, is an end. For Mikaila,
giving sexual gratification to men was more of a means to an end. Since he
has openly declared his gender, support for his needs was withdrawn by his
parents. “Kinahanglan pa nako magpakabaga og nawong aron mangayo og
pang-twisyon sa akong mga igsoon,” Mikaila quipped. (I need to swallow
my pride whenever I ask for tuition money from my brothers.)
Poverty has exposed
him to prostitution. He, alongside, other young gays became shine gays or
prostituted gays whose sexual favors is for rent.
Search for justice and meaning
Mikaila’s search for justice and meaning led him to join a local chapter
of ANAKBAYAN. He still dreams of being accepted as he is by his family, as
well as other people. He thinks all gays should have the same dreams.
experience of Mikaila reflects the need for collective action among
lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender gays. But it will mean doubling
the efforts of other oppressed and exploited groups.
The struggle for the
rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender - collectively called
LGBT in the Philippines - is long and difficult. Together with all
oppressed and exploited classes, sectors, and groups, lesbians, gays,
bisexuals, and transgenders must persevere to create a society that is
truly free from oppression and discrimination in all spheres.
Finding a collective identity
Although there are
efforts from different LGBT groups to address the problems they confront
by establishing a support network and pursuing gender-based advocacies,
still a lot remains to be desired for the LGBT community. For one, there
is no common LGBT identity which the LGBT community can own up to. Oscar
Atadero, national chairperson of the Progressive Organization of Gays in
the Philippines (ProGay) said, “It is very important to have a common
identity which would be inclusive of all of us. Without a common identity
and owning this up, we will only have shame.”
Atadero also said
that this condition has allowed the perpetuation of hate, anger and
discrimination directed towards gays in the society.
Efforts of Pro-Gay Philippines to move toward this direction led to the
recently concluded LGBT Conference 2005 in Davao
City, Aug. 28-29.
Fifty lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders from the Visayas and
Mindanao islands participated in
the conference dubbed as “In the Pink of Health” focusing on gender
equality and other social issues confronted by the LGBT community.
During the conference workshops, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and
transgenders shared their personal and collective experiences in
confronting various forms of oppression and discrimination at home, their
workplaces and respective communities.
A hate wall was set up at the beginning of the conference. Participants
were asked to write on the wall all the hate and discrimination that they
have experienced in the past. Overwhelmingly, the 50 lesbians, gays,
bisexuals and transgenders were able to fill an 8 foot by 12 foot wall
with a wide array of expletives and issues.
On the second day of the conference, the delegates met with law and policy
makers to present the results of the sharing workshops. Councilor Angela
Librado of Davao City admitted that
there is a dearth in policies upholding and protecting the rights of the
LGBT community in the city. She supported the efforts of the LGBT
community to organize so that future policies will be passed to address
Patmi Ruivivar, officer-in-charge of the city’s Integrated Gender and
Development Office, said that the city has the potential to be the
country’s gay capital. According to her, Davao city was the first to set
up an office for gender and development issues. She further said that the
macho image projected by the mayor does not follow that his administration
will not address the issues of the LGBT community. Bulatlat
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© 2004 Bulatlat
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