LGBTQ+ advocates echo calls for equality, safer spaces

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LGBTQ+ advocates echo calls for equality, safer spaces
The gender equality chat room holds its first Rappler Communities event, discussing the LGBTQ+ community's fight for visibility and liberation

MANILA, Philippines – Recent wins in the local fight for equality are mostly at the local government unit level through anti-discrimination ordinances and other initiatives, but members of the LGBTQ+ community remain to feel unsafe to exist as their authentic selves and to love. 

Discussing the theme, “Gaano kalaya maging LGBTQ+ sa Pilipinas? (How free is it to be LGBTQ+ in the Philippines?)”, the gender equality chat room of the Rappler communities app conducted its first ever chat forum in time for Pride Month on Wednesday, June 19. 

Among the moderators are representatives from Metro Manila Pride, GALANG Philippines, and gender-affirming church, Open Table Metropolitan Community Church (MCC).

In this newly established chat room, chat event participants shared their past and present struggles as queer Filipinos and how despite the adversities, love should always win.

Understanding struggles through intersectionality  

In her work with lesbians, bisexual women, trans men, and queer people in urban poor communities, GALANG Philippines research and development head Jana General detailed how the members themselves feel invisible within the community.

“Yung intersectionality ng socio-economic struggles and health concerns lalo na sa access ng services para sa LGBTQs ay di madedetach sa kanilang SOGIESC,” General said.

(The intersectionality of their socio-economic struggles and health concerns, especially with their access to services, cannot be detached from their SOGIESC)

Muh from Open Table Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) shared that they were once in the male-dominated field of engineering. 

They raised the lack of training for gender sensitivity which puts LGBTQ+ individuals and women on the receiving end of attacks and sexual harassment disguised as backhanded jokes and compliments. 

Nakikita lang ‘pag Pride Month na (only seen during Pride Month),” General said, while Muh shared their take on how most of the participants of recent Pride marches are only there for the performances, forgetting the true essence of these events–an “initiative for visibility” and their “sense of pride.”

For genuine safe spaces

Open Table MCC social media coordinator Christopher Celeste affirmed that in creating safe spaces for LGBTQ+ individuals, collective effort is necessary. 

Galang also emphasized the power of lobbying and advocacy and making every space a safe space while the efforts to urge the government to recognize their fundamental rights proceed.

Part of making the community a genuine safe space, Celeste also added that the Pride movement should not deviate from its purpose and go back to its roots with their calls for equal rights and protection. 

The chat participants agreed that Pride is not just a celebration, but a protest as well. 

While the achievements over the years are worth celebrating, there are also reminders that more things are needed to be done for a safer future for the community.

Can love win?

How can love be liberating in the Philippines? 

General believes that love can be liberating when one is free to become their authentic selves as most of the time, love paves the way to self-discovery. 

Meanwhile, there are two ways to guarantee it according to Celeste: on a personal and a societal level. 

From oppressive politicians to conservative religious leaders who impede our progress as a nation, Muh expressed frustration at the absence of marriage equality policies in the country. 

Following the formation of The Equality Alliance that recently addressed a letter to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to certify the SOGIE Equality Bill as urgent on June 14, Metro Manila Pride representative Pipay Cabico echoed the calls to prioritize and pass the said bill. 

Chat participants urged LGBTQ+ members and allies to participate in Pride Month activities, including the upcoming Pride PH Festival on June 22 at the Quezon Memorial Circle, Quezon City for a united “show of force.” –Viancé Redoblado/

Viancé Redoblado is a Rappler intern from the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM). She is an incoming senior taking up Bachelor of Arts in Communication and serves as a feature writer of Ang Pamantasan, the official student publication of PLM.

Got comments, questions, or insights about this story? Head to the gender equality chat room of the Rappler Communities app, available on iOS, Android, or web. Access our chat rooms by tapping the Community tab on the app. See you there!

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