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Colors of Kors

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Michael Kors just launched #MKGO Rainbow capsule for MICHAEL Michael Kors Summer 2019.

Inspired by Pride and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising that launched the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world, #MKGO Rainbow celebrates inclusion, diversity and the vibrancy and vitality of the LGBTQ+ community.

Bright, optimistic hues and rainbow motifs lend energy and graphic appeal to classic silhouettes, casual-cool separates and signature logo accessories. Key products include a sequined T-shirt dress, star-speckled high-top sneakers, a rainbow-quilted Whitney shoulder bag and more.

“Pride is about celebrating your authentic self and remembering all the incredible people who came before us to get us where we are today,” says Michael Kors. “This capsule is about getting dressed with joy and celebrating each other.”

In support of the community and the principles that inspired #MKGO Rainbow, Kors has designed a special #MKGO Rainbow Pride T-shirt. For each of these shirts sold, Kors will donate 100 percent of profits to God’s Love We Deliver, a non-profit organization and longstanding pillar of the LGBTQ+ community that cooks and delivers 1.8 million meals annually to those too sick to shop or cook for themselves throughout the New York metropolitan area.

Rainbow-Quilted shoulder bag.

The designer has been personally involved with God’s Love for over 30 years. Founded in 1985, the non-profit was initially dedicated to serving those with HIV/AIDS. While God’s Love has expanded over the years to serve clients with other severe illnesses, serving those living with HIV/AIDS remains central to their mission. Today, 17 percent of their 7,200 clients are diagnosed with HIV.

“God’s Love We Deliver has always been near and dear to my heart,” says Kors. “During the 80s, when the HIV/AIDS epidemic was raging through New York City, they were one of the first organizations to be there for the gay community. It’s an honor to donate to them today through sales of the #MKGO Rainbow Pride T-shirt.”

Kors was also proud to participate in the Pride 2019 festivities in New York City. On 25 June, he sponsored God’s Love We Deliver’s 50th anniversary celebration of Pride at the historic Stonewall Inn, where the gay rights movement began. Then, on 30 June, he donated their #MKGO Rainbow Pride T-shirts to members of the God’s Love We Deliver float for the NYC Pride March, the largest commemoration and celebration of the LGBTQ+ community in history.

In the Philippines, Michael Kors is exclusively distributed by Stores Specialists Inc. and is located at Central Square in Bonifacio High Street Central, Greenbelt 5, Newport Mall, Power Plant Mall, Rustan’s Makati and Shangri-La Plaza Mall. Visit www.ssilife.com.ph or follow @ssilifeph on Instagram.

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Pinoy Boys Love overdose

Michael Kho Lim

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‘My Extra Ordinary’ premieres 27 September on TV5. PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF ASTERISK DIGITAL ENTERTAINMENT

There’s no stopping the surge of Filipino versions of Boys Love (BL) series. The growing number of local productions is so fast, it has become a challenge to keep track of them. I have actually lost count, but my list has 31 Pinoy BL series to date. Most of them are just in the pipeline, some are still running, while others have ended.

However, it can be argued that not everything on the list can be considered BL in content — in the purist tradition of the genre. Some simply label their content as “BL” and hide under its guise if the story involves homoerotic affairs between two guys. Clearly, they are just riding on the genre’s popularity to gain viewership.

The Pinoy BL phenomenon is similar to what happened in the early noughties when digital video technology was introduced. There was a sudden boom in the local production of gay-themed independent films — so many that people thought indie films were mostly just gay skin flicks.

Indie gay films were not necessarily advancing a cause or representing the gay community. They were mostly sexploitation (bordering on the pornographic) movies, and a number of them only had straight-to-video releases.

Today, we might be seeing the same pattern. Pinoy BL is dominating the content of series productions.

‘Good boys,
bad boys’
Good storytelling is key to the success of any series. Many BL series in Thailand — where BL first caught fire, after Thais adapted it from Japan — have a high global following because they have interesting narratives.

The success of a series is usually determined in the first two or three episodes. Viewers might be forgiving of a weak pilot episode and wait for the succeeding episodes before deciding whether to keep watching.

While there are commendable Pinoy BL series such as Gameboys and Hello, Stranger, others pale in comparison or barely meet standards. What set the two series apart were their tight storytelling, remarkable cast and creativity of their respective directors.

Some Pinoy BL series fail because of poor plot development. Oftentimes, they have useless scenes that don’t push the story forward, and dialogues that serve no purpose in character development.

For instance, one series extended its inciting incident to the third episode, and yet the audience still couldn’t get a grasp of the characters’ goals.

The characters were also bland. The lead couple lacked chemistry and some cast members were just eye candies. In fact, one series had a newbie actor who alluded to, if not imitated, the acting and expressions of Gameboys’ Cairo (Elijah Canlas). The declining viewership of that series on YouTube confirmed its failure to capture an audience.

There are also some series that should be condemned. Everything about them — lighting, sound mixing, scriptwriting, acting — is bad.

However, there are a couple of Pinoy BL productions with redeeming factors. They got some aspects right — the cinematography, production design and editing. Nonetheless, there is no amount of production value that can compensate for bad screenwriting and direction.

Moreover, these series include tacky product placements in the tradition of tawdry movies shown in the Metro Manila Film Festival. It would have been better if “real” ads were placed instead.

Drawback
Another example of what appears to be a promising series — at least based on its trailer — is My Extra Ordinary, which premieres on 27 September on TV5. I think the drawback is that it views homosexuality as a problem. This is disappointing because we expect a better treatment of the topic from a prizewinning writer.

The series’ creators may claim that it’s depicting a social reality and a sad truth, but such portrayals have been done to death. It is high time to change the narratives and perspectives to provide more empowering portrayals of the gay community in media. Homosexuality is not the problem; people’s thinking is.

Meanwhile, there is much to expect from Juan Miguel Severo’s Gaya sa Pelikula (Like in the Movies) on 25 September. The script of the first three episodes is well-written and has been well-received based on the overflowing positive comments. It can be accessed on Wattpad and has more than 160,000 reads so far.

Furthermore, one of its lead actors, Paolo Pangilinan, identifies as queer and is playing a queer role. This is an example of inclusiveness and better representation.

Jumping on the BL bandwagon is not really the issue, especially if it helps promote a cause. The more important question is, are these Pinoy BL series telling the stories that need to be told, and giving voices to those who need to be heard? It is not easy to strike a balance between entertainment and an advocacy, but it can be done.

The real problem is the false notion of Pinoy pride. Many Filipino BL fanatics on various online fan groups and pages keep on calling for support to all Filipino-made BL series regardless of its quality.

This is a bad habit and mindset that encourages the mushrooming of productions with substandard content.

This predicament will also saturate the market faster than the BL product can develop, not to mention that it runs the risk of generating BL fatigue in a space that has become overcrowded.

The surplus of bad content that is flooding online platforms right now might eclipse the good ones and kill the genre even before it grows. While there is a need to reclaim our narrative, the avalanche of mediocre Pinoy BL content also needs to end now.

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Queer conference open for registration till 12 October

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Writer and professor J. Neil Garcia will be the keynote speaker of the conference. PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF NEIL GARCIA

The Philippine Queer Studies Conference (PQSC), the first research conference on LGBTQ+ issues and community, is now open for registration. Registration is free on tinyurl.com/pqscregistration until 12 October.

The conference will be held from 26 to 28 October via Facebook Live and Zoom, organized by the University of the Philippines (UP) Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, UP Babaylan and PAP LGBT Psychology Special Interest Group. It has received over 50 submissions in the past month during the call for paper/abstract.

The opening session on LGBTQ+ studies in the Philippines will feature keynote speaker, professor Dr. J. Neil C. Garcia, director of the University of the Philippines Press, a fellow for poetry at the Likhaan: University of the Philippines Institute of Creative Writing and a director for the Philippines at Project GlobalGRACE. This session will be held on 26 October, 10:30 a.m. via Facebook Live and moderated by John Andrew G. Evangelista, assistant professor at the UP Diliman Department of Sociology.

For updates, questions, or clarifications, visit its live FAQ page at tinyurl.com/pqsc2020faq, or email [email protected].

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Ways to raise HIV/AIDS awareness

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HIV is still a concern even during the pandemic, so awareness and protection are a must. PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF DUREX

There are numerous issues of importance that have taken a backseat because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. One of them is human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), a cause for concern not only in the LGBTQ+ community, but the entire human race as well. While the Department of Health (DoH) recently announced that HIV cases have gone down by an astounding 68 percent in the second quarter of 2020, it also noted that it is no cause for celebration.

Whether the number of cases has truly gone down or is simply unreported due to quarantines across the country, the fact remains that there are still new cases daily. In fact, before the pandemic, DoH statistics revealed that the country averaged 35 cases on a daily basis.

While there are movements and events like LGBTQ+ Pride Month that promote HIV-awareness alongside gender equality, bringing awareness to this cause, even while under quarantine, should not stop. There are ways to raise the alarm and bring the issue of HIV out in the open.
Here are a few:

Accept
A good first step — especially for those who are still on the fence and have reservations on the matter — would be to acknowledge and accept that people are free to identify themselves as they wish and that there is no one way to express one’s self and one’s love — not to mention that HIV exists. With this first step, individuals will have an easier time trying to understand and empathize with each other and possibly help each other overcome challenges such as HIV, gender inequality and other similar issues.

Educate
One of the many benefits of the digital world we live in today is that seemingly unlimited information is readily available within our fingertips. This is key because part of creating an HIV-free world also entails learning more about it, the groups of people who usually contract and ways in which the virus can be eradicated.

Advocate
With a clear understanding of HIV, creating a world without it would mean spreading the word, engaging in discourse and spreading your knowledge to uninformed people. In advocating, one can also learn more through like-minded people looking to express themselves as well.

Heed
Lastly, to further disseminate information and knowledge while building a sense of community, it would be good to take action and support calls and campaigns such as Durex’s “No One Way Love All Ways” Campaign that supports and promotes all ways of living and expressing.

“A big challenge in the fight against HIV has always been the lack of acknowledgement and proper education on the matter,” said Dr. Rica Cruz, licensed psychologist, sex therapist and educator. “While the current situation presents difficulties as physical events cannot be staged, the opportunity to use available technologies such as social media and online webinars can also be utilized to our advantage. These are excellent tools for spreading the word to a wider audience from the comforts of our home while still being safe in more ways than one.”

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Panay Queer literary anthology in the works

Roel Hoang Manipon

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Young LGBTQ+ people (above)learning to write their own narratives. PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF ILOILO PRIDE TEAM

Young LGBTQ+ writers in Panay Island are being invited to submit their literary works for the first edition of a literary journal to be launched in 2021. The project, Pagsulat Duag, is organized by local organizations Iloilo Pride Team, Hubon Manunulat: West Visayan Writers and Kasingkasing Press, with their international partners ASEAN SOGIE Caucus and Voice.

The organizers hope that the submissions — personal essays, poems, short stories, and other forms — “can shed light on how it is to be young, queer and Ilonggo” and give “insights on gay experience and on its current condition” in Panay.

The call is open to writers who were born in Panay, or have lived in Panay for at least four years and who are under 32 years old.

Works may be written in Western Visayas languages (Hiligaynon, Kinaray-a and Aklanon), Filipino and English, and must not have been previously published.

Special preference is given to voices from the marginalized sectors such laborers, out-of-school youth, farmers, fisherfolk and persons with disability.

The project began as the first Pagsulat Duag: A Writing Workshop for the LGBTQ Youth (PD) held in June 2019, with participants from barangay Rizal Lapuz in La Paz, Iloilo City. In collaboration with Gabriela Panay-Guimaras, the barangay hosted the workshop in its chapel. The participants were able to write touching stories, encouraging the organizers to hold workshops in other barangays.

 

Rish Inoceto, chairperson of Iloilo Pride Team and secretary-general of Gabriela Panay-Guimaras.
PHOTOGRAPH FROM PERSONAL FB

The workshop was born to fill the dearth in narratives written by LGBTQ+ youth in Iloilo City and Ilolio province.

“Pagsulat Duag is a creative writing workshop that started out of our own pockets and a collaboration with Hubon Manunulat’s Palanca awardees. We wanted the queer youth of Iloilo to learn how to write their stories, whether it be of their coming out or anything significant in their life,” said Irish Inoceto, chairperson of Iloilo Pride Team and secretary-general of Gabriela Panay-Guimaras. “With the four sessions of PD in four different communities, we were amazed by the different lived realities of the queer youth of Iloilo.”

Organizers hope that Pagsulat Duag will be instrumental in establishing “a historical and cultural background of the existence of queer culture amongst the indigenous peoples existing even prior to Western colonization,” as well as “narratives of inclusion and acceptance of the LGBT youth in Western Visayas.”

They also want to make the workshop and the practice of reading and writing more accessible to the marginalized sectors.

The planned journal or anthology will be edited by Inoceto, Early Sol Gadong, Michael Caesar Tubal and Noel de Leon.

Submit works: forms.gle/YyHxwJDEfEsfMKM48. Deadline of submission is 1 October.

Writer Early Sol Gadong, one of the editors of the anthology.
PHOTOGRAPH FROM PERSONAL FB

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I’m a child of same-sex parents

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Author is always proud of the LGBTQ+ community and continues to fight for them. PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF SOPHIYA KIRSTEN MONTAÑO

This is my experience as a child of same-sex parents.

A few months ago in my religion class, our professor said something in the context of how a child of same-sex parents would face an identity crisis, leaving them in a difficult situation. I told him that as someone who’s been raised by two moms, it’s normal for children to question and it isn’t difficult to understand the concept of two moms/dads — the concept of a non-traditional family. What makes it difficult is being surrounded by people who shove heteronormativity down our throats.

I, a college student, was crying at that time in front of everyone in my class because it resurfaced so many memories of having to hear that your family is “sinful” and “unacceptable,” especially from teachers — adults!

When I was in grade school, I would go home crying my eyes out; it was painful to process how society perceives your family that way when you go home to a space filled with nothing but love and to a family that functions not differently from a traditional family. My mama would always explain it to me by saying, “They’re not used to families like ours; they don’t understand how it’s like and people don’t like things they don’t understand.”

Even with all the judgment and pain I’ve experienced as a child of same-sex parents, even if I was crying trying to explain my side to a room full of grown individuals, I’m certain that none of it is my parents’ fault, neither the community’s (lalo na ‘yung [especially the] crying part; emotional talaga ako [I really am]). I suggested that discussions about LGBTQIA+ families should lean more toward what culture makes it difficult for it to be normalized rather than “mahirap maging anak ng LGBTQIA+ kasi magkaka-identity crisis ‘yung bata (it is difficult to be a child of an LGBTQIA+ [parents] because the child will have identity crisis)” because people often perceive the latter as “kasalanan ng (the fault of) LGBTQIA+ parents.” Not everyone understands, so discussions are important. In the end, we agreed that it’ll still be a long fight because it’s rooted in a deeply ingrained culture, but one that’s worth it. The discourse was enlightening for both sides and I’m glad I encountered a religion professor that allows himself to be taught as well as he teaches.

 

Traveling with moms.

Ang dami ko pang gustong sabihin kasi educational setting pa lang ‘yan pero next time na (I have many things to say and we are still in the educational setting but maybe next time). Ayan (There), if there’s one thing I learned from my parents, it’s to arm yourself with knowledge, have the courage to stand up for what you believe in, and that you are capable of change so act on it.

Isa pa, tigilan niyo na ‘yung myth na “nakakahawa maging bakla” kasi ako nga araw-araw ko kasama mga nanay ko, straight pa rin ako (Another thing, stop perpetuating the myth that “being gay is contagious” because I am with my moms everyday and I am still straight). But who knows? Baka (Maybe) tomorrow…. After all, gender is fluid and I’m no less of a person no matter where I identify myself in the spectrum and so neither are you.

I’m proud of my moms and I’m proud of everyone in this community. We have a long way to go in this fight, but we’ll get there. We will be recognized and accepted. Until then, know that you’re not alone and we’ll resist together.

Note: Author is a 20-year-old sophomore student. This is her Facebook post on LGBTQ+ Pride Month that went viral.

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LGBTQ+ and other groups decry ‘absolute pardon’

Roel Hoang Manipon

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President Rodrigo Duterte on 7 September granted “absolute pardon” to United States Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton, who was convicted in 2014 for killing Filipino transgender woman Jennifer Laude. The pardon came on the heels of Olongapo City Regional Trial Court Branch 74’s decision to grant the 25-year-old American serviceman an early release on 1 September based on good conduct time allowance (GCTA).

The Court of Appeals had sentenced Pemberton to a maximum of 12 years imprisonment, later reduced to 10 years.

He was released after only six years in prison.

Many LGBTQ+ organizations, as well as youth and progressive groups, denounced the pardon.

“President Duterte’s claim that Pemberton has suffered injustice when he served time in a special holding cell in Camp Aguinaldo for just five years and 10 months out of a 10-year jail sentence is unacceptable and ludicrous. Pemberton should have served time in the National Bilibid Prison, and the President could have granted presidential pardon to a Filipino instead of an American,” said a group of LGBTQ+ organizations in a unity statement.

“Such acts done by the President at this time confirm how his government has been using the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to promote and kowtow to foreign interests which have caused profound suffering, indignity and injustice to the Filipino people.”

The group is composed of the makers of the documentary Call Her Ganda, LakanBini Advocates Pilipinas, Gender and Development Advocates (GANDA) Filipinas, Pioneer Filipino Transgender Men Movement, Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP), Transman Equality and Awareness Movement (TEAM), Lagablab LGBT Network, Metro Manila Pride, Philippine Anti-Discrimination Alliance of Youth Leaders (PANTAY), University of the Philippines (UP) Babaylan, Rainbow Rights Philippines, Babaylanes Inc., Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) Kasarianlan, Bulacan State University (BulSU) Bahaghari, Benilde Hive, Technological University of the Philippines (TUP) Dugong Bughaw, Gayon Albay LGBT Organization, True Colors Coalition, Bicol University Magenta, KAIBA Academic Collective, UP Babaylan Baguio Chapter, Asia-Pacific College Bahaghari, Queer Quezon, GALANG Philippines, Camp Queer, UP Babaylan Clark Chapter, Tribu Duag, LGBTQ+ Partylist, Youth Voices Count, Love Is All We Need, Migrante Europe, Pinay sa Holland and Gabriela Germany.

 

‘Mere posturing’
The statement added that “the President’s pardon shows that his so-called support for the LGBTQI community is just mere posturing and exposes the truth about Duterte and his legacy — that as a leader, he is nothing but unjust, misogynistic and transphobic” and “sends out a loud and clear message that a Filipino trans woman’s life does not matter, that it is open season for discrimination and violence against transgender people, and that American soldiers will continue to get away with murder in Philippine soil.”

The network of groups disputed the claim that the administration has done the most for the LGBTQ+ community and said that “all he has done is to use the LGBTQI community to further his popularity. His government never served our interests nor protected our rights and lives, and today proves that only a murderer can empathize with another murderer.”

Another unity statement was released by a group of Metro Manila student organizations including several Far Eastern University organizations, Anakbayan chapters, Kabataan Partylist Morayta, Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan and Paaman sa Tueun-an, which “strongly” denounced the grant of absolute pardon: “This is a strong disregard for Filipino life, noting that Laude’s death is equivalent to the ‘symbolic death’ of Philippine sovereignty according to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, who represented Laude’s family during the trial.”

“The act of compensating is totally unacceptable because no life can ever be replaced by pecuniary recoupment and a short period of incarceration. We strongly express our disapproval and disappointment over the lack of transparency regarding Pemberton’s alleged good conduct and participation in Camp Aguinaldo,” they pointed out, urging again the passage of the SOGIE Equality Bill “that aims to further protect the rights and liberty of everyone, whether they belong in the LGBTQIA+ community or not.”

“This is not about placing special rights for a specific minority group, but a gesture that recognizes the equal rights and protection of the LGBTQIA+ community that should have already been in place under the ambit of both national and international laws. This, indeed, will not be protested only if the law and the government are able to grant the justice that the LGBTQIA+ community deserves.

“Must we let another gruesome death of a fellow member of our community pass by before we act on this urgent matter? We must not and we cannot let our fallen brothers and sisters down. We urge everyone to unite against the injustice, the hate, the discrimination and the inequality that we face up to this day.”

 

LGBTQ+ groups rally in front of DoJ on 3 September.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF FB/BAHAGHARI

Infuriating
LGBTQ+ group Bahaghari, which marched to the Mendiola Peace Arch on 8 September, said: “It is time that we… take our place in history, and recognize that there can be no justice for our slain sister for as long as the accomplice to her murderer sits squarely in Malacañang.”

Organizers of Metro Manila Pride stood “firm against this infuriating and blatant act of betrayal in the service of foreign interests, enabling systemic violence to happen to the most vulnerable of us; enabling violence against trans women and the trans community.”

They also asked “the entire community, in the face of this betrayal, to remain vigilant, to continue to be vocal and to find strength in each other as we fight against injustice.”

De La Salle University-College of Saint Benilde’s LGBTQ+ student group, Benilde Hive, “recognizes how this decision may harm the community and perpetuate the idea that violence against our brothers and sisters is tolerated in any form.”

PANTAY, representing students advocating for equality, said that the act “reveals just how hostile Duterte and his administration is towards the LGBTQ+ community, their rights and interests.”

“It is acts like these that awaken us to the reality that, indeed, in society, LGBTQ+ persons are marginalized and oppressed by a system that seeks to deny them their humanity.”

Laude was 26 and Pemberton — a member of the US Marine Corps 2nd Battalion-9th Marines of the West Pacific Express — was 19 when they met at Ambyanz Disco in Olongapo City on 11 October 2014.

She was later found dead in a room at Celzone Lodge, naked and with her head in the toilet bowl.

A police report said that she died of strangulation. Pemberton said he choked Laude upon learning that Laude was not biologically female.

The Olongapo City Regional Trial Court convicted Pemberton of homicide.

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Public officials dismayed over Pemberton release

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Staunch LGBTQ+ ally, Sen. Risa Hontiveros. PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF FB/RISA HONTIVEROS

Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman admitted being hurt over the “absolute pardon” President Duterte gave US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton, who was sentenced in 2014 to a prison term of six to 10 years for killing trans woman Jennifer Laude during a sexual encounter.

“As a human being with a trans experience, hindi ko maiwasang masaktan sa mga nagaganap sa kaso ng aking trans sister na si Jennifer Laude laban kay Joseph Scott Pemberton. Mariin kong ipinapahayag ang hindi ko pagsang-ayon sa pagpapalaya kay Joseph Scott Pemberton na may pananagutan sa pagpatay kay Jennifer Laude noong 2014 (I cannot help but feel hurt on what has happened to the case of my trans sister Jennifer Laude against Joseph Scott Pemberton. I emphatically expressed my disagreement on the release of Joseph Scott Pemberton who was responsible for the killing of Jennifer Laude in 2014),” said the Philippines’ first transgender congresswoman in a statement.

Roman also questioned the special treatment given to a foreigner, while Filipinos are not given the same kind of chance.

On the other hand, Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago posted on Twitter that she “strongly condemns this unconscionable move of granting absolute pardon to Pemberton.

“Not only is this a betrayal of Jennifer Laude’s memory and the cries for justice, it is also an affront to our sovereignty and the dignity of the Filipino people,” she said.

 

Dinagat Islands governor Kaka Bag-ao, who is one of the principal authors of the SOGIE Equality Bill.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF FB/KAKA BAG-AO

Dinagat Islands Governor Kaka Bag-ao, one of the principal authors of the SOGIE Equality Bill when she was a congresswoman, said: “It takes a whole system to murder a transgender person: First, through a treaty that allows the entry of foreign soldiers who commit abuses with not only impunity, but (are) also met with special treatment. Second, through a justice system that renders trans persons invisible, along with the hate crimes done against them. Third, through a government that does not only close its eyes to injustice, but lends it support. Fourth, through a legislature that, again and again, fails to provide protection to all persons regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. Lastly, through a public that continues to shut out their minds and hearts from understanding and showing compassion towards the LGBTQ+ community, especially transgender persons.”

A long-time and staunch LGBTQ+ ally, Sen. Risa Hontiveros considers the pardon of Pemberton “an unbelievable affront not only to the LGBTQI+ community but to the Filipino people.”

“While Filipinos who are convicted even of lesser crimes are never accorded such a privilege, an American who brutally killed a Filipina is allowed to walk free by the President himself. This move also gives the lie to the so-called support of the President for the trans and whole LGBTQI+ community,” she said.

Vice President Leni Robredo also questioned the unequal treatment: “Patas at makatarungan ba ang naging desisyong ito? Libo-libo ang nakakulong pa rin dahil walang pambayad sa abugado. Hindi malitis-litis ang kanilang mga kaso. May mga pamilya silang nagugutom, nagkakasakit, at naghihirap. Pemberton had lawyers, special detention facilities, a quick public trial and an appeal. Ngayon, lalong luminaw na mayroon din siyang resources para masigurong mabibigyang-pansin ng mismong Pangulo ang kaso niya (Was this decision fair and judicious? Thousands are imprisoned because they can’t afford to have a lawyer. Their cases drag. Their families go hungry, get sick, and suffer… Now, it becomes clearer that Permberton also had resources to make sure the President himself will attend to his case).”

Robredo added: “Isa lang ang kasong ito sa maraming patunay ng pagkiling sa makapangyarihan na nakikita natin mula sa pamahalaan. Napakaraming mga Pilipino na mas magaan ang sala, ngunit hindi nabibigyang-pansin o nabibigyan ng ganitong uri ng pribilehiyo. Ang nakikita natin: Kapag mahirap, may parusa; kapag mayaman at nasa poder, malaya (This is just one case in many instances when government favors the powerful. There are many Filipinos who committed light offenses, but are not given attention or accorded this kind of privilege. What we see: The poor are punished; the rich and those in power are free.)

“We continue to hope that the President exercises his vast powers in a manner that is fair and that benefits the common Filipino.”

Trans congresswoman Geraldine Roman.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF FB/GERALDINE ROMAN

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LGBTQ+ group recognized for aid work

Roel Hoang Manipon

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They also gave modest cash assistance.

On 19 August, World Humanitarian Day, Voice, a Netherlands-based grant-giving facility for the marginalized and discriminated, recognized the San Julian Pride Advocacy Group for its efforts in giving aid and assistance to the community amid the pandemic.

In a statement, San Julian Pride — an emerging grassroots LGBTQ+ organization in San Julian, Eastern Samar — said: “Thanks to our partner Voice for recognizing our effort. We are one with countries and the development world in marking World Humanitarian Day 2020. We doff our hats off to organizations providing assistance to the least, the last and the lost during this COVID crisis. We would like to do more to support our members and our community notwithstanding that we are under-resourced and undervalued. We are also unrelenting; that’s why we are confident that we will be able to find a way.”

Voice said that San Julian Pride, one of its empowerment grantees in Philippines, is cited “for helping others in need during these difficult times” with “packages have been extremely helpful as most people have not been able to access certain essentials whose supply has been affected by lockdowns and quarantines in the fight against COVID-19.”

In early August, San Julian Pride distributed COVID-19 care packages and cash assistance to 208 rural gay men, transgender women and senior citizens in 16 barangays of their town. The group’s care packages included food and hygiene items, vegetable seeds, condoms and lubricant packets and flyers with COVID-19 information.

“Our community visits reminded us of the poverty that characterizes the life of the majority of our members — rural poverty that is now being aggravated by COVID-19,” the group said. “Many of our members parlayed the cash assistance into augmenting their small livelihood. Some used the cash to help their family, to buy school supplies in preparation for the anticipated reopening of schools, or to buy gender affirming hormones which supply has been affected because of lockdowns and quarantines.

“We originally listed 129 members but we had to expand to more than 200 with the inclusion of those entering or already in junior high school. This stems from the realization that some families might see their LGBT children as a burden, especially during this time of unprecedented hardship. Our senior citizen members are another story: most of them living solo, needing medication and supporting themselves however they can — weeding yards, sewing clothes, sari-sari store, or relying on others for support.

 

ADVOCACY GROUP care packages ready for distribution.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF SAN JULIAN PRIDE

“The support we provided is in no way a solution to the current situation but it sure is a balm of relief to our embattled collective psyche. Which is why our arrival at each barangay was greeted with warm welcomes and our departure filled with hopes for reuniting once again under improved conditions. The next phase would be for us to focus on our members who are LSI (locally stranded individuals) in Manila and other places.”

What is notable about the packages is that they are placed in eco-bags made of upcycled old and used clothes.

“When San Julian Pride received a mini grant to be parlayed into COVID-19 disaster relief for our members,” said the group, “we immediately leveraged the opportunity as a multi-advocacy platform: plastics pollution, COVID-19 awareness and relief, and recognition of farmers and fisherfolk. Instead of using plastic bags for our COVID response care package, we asked San Juliananons to donate to us their used clothes that we converted into eco-bags.”

The eco-bags are not only for single use: “Our members can continue to use them to the beach, market, office, schools and other settings. Our anti-plastic pollution advocacy is one of our pursuits that cuts across all sectors because everyone is affected by an unhealthy environment. Of course, our main advocacy of SOGIE equality should be recognized and supported by everyone as sexual orientation and gender identities and expressions are intrinsic to each person whether they are heterosexual or LGBTQ+.”

San Julian Pride also paid tribute to farmers and fisherfolk “as they continue to sustain our rural life especially in this time of COVID-19 crisis.”

“Our new normal should be one that is environment friendly, gender confirming and healthy,” the group added.

Founded on 23 December 2017 by Roel Andag, San Julian Pride promotes and upholds LGBTQ+ rights in one of the poorest areas in the Philippines. It aims to promote unity, mutual support and total well-being of the LGBTQ+ community of San Julian and other municipalities and advocate equality of people of diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions and sex characteristics.

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Diversity

Southeast Asian Queer Cultural Festival invites participants

TDT

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THE festival will bring together both historical and contemporary narratives of LGBTQ+ inclusion derived from experiences in different Southeast Asian countries.

The Southeast Asian Queer Cultural Festival (SEAQCF) will be held online from 13 February to 13 March 2021. Focusing on the theme “Be/Longings,” the event is organized by the ASEAN SOGIE Caucus (ASC), an organization of human rights defenders in Southeast Asia to promote and protect LGBTQ+ rights in the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) region.

It is calling for participants from Southeast Asia —LGBTQ+ visual artists, musicians, drag performers, filmmakers, photographers and other artists who work in any media, genre or form. Advocates, artists and cultural workers are invited to share materials that educate the public on the issue and build stronger bonds of regional community.

SEAQCF is a virtual platform that celebrates LGBTQ+ inclusion in Southeast Asia. The ASC seeks to cultivate the collective memory of Southeast Asian LGBTQ+ persons, referring to the cultural narratives of the community, centered around a shared identity and its relationship to both an imagined common past and a vision of a common future. The organization emphasizes that collective memory is not a static record of history, but an evolving consciousness, constantly morphing as it is performed, narrated and interpreted in contemporary situations.

 

The festival is said to also function as a political space to foster alternative regionalism, which refers to a collaborative process of holding accountable regional institutions (e.g. ASEAN) through people-oriented approaches within and outside state territories and functions. It involves strengthening the political leverage of transnational civil society and social movements to counter hegemonic regional governance arrangements that exclude marginalized groups. Activities may include learning programs based on grassroots needs, developing new paradigms for regional engagement, and building solidarity between and among civil society groups across boundaries.

In the context of this project, the organizer aims to bring together both historical and contemporary narratives of LGBTQ+ inclusion derived from experiences in different Southeast Asian countries, and collaboratively weave and shape a transformative discourse: a collective memory of an inclusive ASEAN.

They have always existed way before the creation of ASEAN and its member states. Sadly, many governments and social institutions deliberately make efforts to alienate or make LGBTQ+ persons invisible. They do this by adopting and implementing repressive laws and policies at the domestic and regional levels.

The theme is inspired by the words kerinduan in the Malay language and pangungulila in Filipino. The region is missing a significant group of people from its memory. For the LGBTQ+ person’s point of view, they are missing a region that is genuinely caring, inclusive, and respectful of diversity.

For more information, contact Ryan Silverio, Manila-based ASC regional coordinator, through [email protected]; Lini Zurlia,

Jakarta-based ASC Advocacy Officer, through [email protected]; Ivanka Custodio, festival coordinator, through [email protected]; or AR Arcon, festival assistant, through [email protected].

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