Mar 10, 2013

[Technicolor Musings] The Sad State of LGBT Activism in the Philippines

It is 2013 and the Philippines still does not have any legislation that protects the LGBT community from discrimination. Same-sex marriage is barely on the discussion table either nor are there any options for civil unions or legal domestic partnerships for LGBT couples either. At least there are limited provisions for individuals to adopt, and thus allowing same-sex couples to adopt children, albeit as individuals (if I understand the laws correctly).

In popular media, the stereotypical images of the bakla dominate the airwaves as comic relief. LGBT characters are rarely presented as roles to be taken seriously - instead we assume they will get into comic situations tied directly to gender stereotypes. If you watch a movie that involves a kiss between two individuals of the same gender, you can expect the audience to squeal in bemused comedic horror (if you're watching another of our local comedies) or in shocked silence if it's a more serious drama. If it is a drama, you're probably watching yet another indie movie that has decided to tap the queer market.

Day in and day out, people struggle with their sexual identity in the context of the Catholic or Christian religion that they were born into. Coming out isn't even seen as a necessity by most - instead people just assume that their parents will figure it out and instead explore the local LGBT scene practically in secret. We have few public figures who are clearly homosexual and discuss the importance of LGBT rights. And given how our elections are rarely issues-based, the LGBT rights platform is more of a novelty that is at least mentioned but not exactly a primary focus in order to avoid too much controversy with the conservative voting base. We have one LGBT political group running in the partylist arena, but beyond that we're up against lay ministers and pastors who are also running for office.

Given all this, it's all the more disappointing that we don't see more members of the LGBT community getting involved in the right for LGBT rights. Even the act of simply joining any of the regular Pride marches held throughout the country is not seen as a priority by most since they either don't see the point or don't want to be seen in public associated with the LGBT community.

With the highly conservative views of most of the country, most of us were raised to think that being gay is a bad thing - a sin even. And while violence against LGBT doesn't seem to be as common here as it is in countries like the US, it does not mean it does not happen. Beyond that, many LGBTs allow the conservative mindset to control their actions and do the "policing" themselves instead of their parents. And thus the double lives, the secrets, the lies and the relationships that turn into more casual friendships whenever one visits family.

Why are people content with how the way things are? Why isn't there a greater clamor for us to demand what we deserve? Why aren't more people standing up and being counted among the many LGBTs who ask for equal representation and protection under the law?

Instead we have people who live their double-lives here and look overseas and admire the process there. Like those who see the global community as a place to find better jobs and better opportunities  far too many LGBTs simply dismiss the local situation as one that will never change and instead dream about moving to other countries with more progressive views of the pink community. In the same way many people cannot let go of the strictly third world view of our own country, LGBTs seem to constantly sell the country short and think that it's hopeless to expect more from our government - from our fellow countrymen.

There's a false sense of complacency in the local pink community since far too many people can only see things from the perspective of their individual lives and not from the perspective of a greater community out there. People are focused on whether or not they've been outed, whether or not their boss just saw them on a date while at the mall or you forgot to remove your make-up before heading to that job interview. It's not necessarily being selfish. It's just having a narrow focus, one born of the same shame and fear that we were raised to embrace as our companions in this life.

Are you happy with the way things are now? Don't you want to be able to walk down the street and hold the hand of your partner and not feel the awkward stares of passersby? Don't you want to be legally married to the man or woman of your dreams and be assured that should one of you die, there is no legal question as to what will happen to your property or who can make medical decisions on your behalf? Don't you want to live in a country that doesn't see LGBTs as a joke, a source of comic relief before the real big name stars come on screen?

Then why don't you do something. Be the change that you want to be. Come out of your closet. Be proud of who you are. Join the pride marches. Speak up for gay rights in the workplace. Stand up to discrimination and embrace who you are. And if you want to do more, then find politicians who will truly fight for our rights and not just use it as a convenient item to add to their campaign materials. If you're in the position to, then run for public office and take the fight for LGBT rights to the next level.

In other words, DO SOMETHING. Don't just accept the status quo. Don't just party away the night and pretend that everything is okay in this country. Things aren't okay for LGBTs, not by a longshot. And we need the help of the entire community speaking up for what we deserve before people stop and listen to what we have to say. We need to stand up proud and be counted in order for them to realize just how many of us are out there and how this isn't just some phase.

We're here. We're queer. And we'll never disappear.


  1. Himala. Walang Transformers pictures :)

  2. You're mixing up my blogs now - that's something I only do on my personal blog.

  3. Ah ok. Sa pala ang mga Transformers. Nalito na ako :)

  4. "Are you happy with the way things are now? Don't you want to be able to
    walk down the street and hold the hand of your partner and not feel the
    awkward stares of passersby"

    Nobody is ever happy on anything anytime because nobody is ever contented on anything in his lifetime.

    There will always be people who feels awkward at anything they don't see often. Let them see the it everyday.

    Anyway, this is my first time reading a geeky blog, my nose is bleeding.. whew! :)

  5. I wouldn't go as far say claiming that no one is ever happy - that seems like a sad view of the human experience.

  6. You're are right, but what i meant was the happiness that everyone continually sought after - true happiness. :)