Ashe Marquez

“Darling, I want my gay rights now.” – Marsha P. Johnson, queer advocate and drag queen. 

Every color represents an image and a message that aims to influence people’s perspectives on what its users believe in. When mixed with other hues, it becomes a new tone and provides changes on this age’s canvas, but what’s making it ugly is the shades that are being thrown into these pigments of movement.

Photo Courtesy by Gerard Carreon/Rappler

One of the said changes that these people strive for is the approval and recognition of the SOGIE Equality Bill, more commonly known as the Anti-Discrimination Bill. Its recognition among other people would lessen the discrimination that countless queer folks face every day and protect them from any danger that they may face in their daily lives. 

It benefits both queer parties and allies, which this article will help elaborate on further. Additionally, the said article lets viewers create an open mind when reading the struggles and challenges of those who continuously fight for our queer brothers and sisters to be seen and heard.

Rewind Check: Where it all began (Queer History in The Philippines)

The queer history here in the Philippines can be traced back even before the Spanish colonization has yet to invade the country, as our culture and historical texts can be seen how some of our ancestors worshiped gods who were gender-fluid or had partners of the same sex, and that some of our ancestors were not limited to only one known gender or sexuality.

One example of gender fluidity in our pre-colonial times is the Babaylan, who were known to be figures of the divine, as both queer men and women living in their community — they had helped the sick by using herbal medicines and were known to meditate or communicate with the spirits. 

And while there are notably different countries that sparked the ideas of cross-dressing, Crispulo Trinidad Luna, more commonly known as Pulong, was the first in the Philippines to embrace their love for clothes and make-up! The way they presented themselves varied from kimonos to baro’t saya, to which many complimented the individual as soft and elegant. 

Their family members supported them for their lifestyle, and when asked why they chose not to marry, they said; “Por Dios, babae ako!”. 

This led to them loving a man named Juan who was noted to be their first and last love, Juan’s life may have been cut short due to an accident, but his love for expressing themself still sews new threads in this current age. Their legacy created a safe space for queers alike to be themselves and to love whom they want. 

This also led many queer folks to lead organizations for the said community, and to unite and establish change for others who cannot be themselves. 

Patriotism and A call to the State: The History of SOGIE Bill

The SOGIE bill was first proposed by former senator and presidential candidate Miriam Defensor Santiago and former Akbayan representative Loretta “Etta” Rosales in 2000, but went untouched until 2019, which made it the longest untouched bill by the Senate Congress. 

It was then proposed again by Senator Risa Hontiveros on August 14 of the same year, promising to reopen and conduct a proper protocol towards the bill — yet several senators digressed and have shared their thoughts regarding the matter. 

To this day, the said bill has not been recognized and has been pushed back further from any progress, as many deemed by opposing parties via government officials and some religious folks, think that the bill is utterly useless and may cause disruption to what others have already corporated in their lifestyles. 

This caused an uproar among many for the delay of the said bill, and have expressed their uttermost concerns concerning the lack of awareness and genuineness to create a much safer space for everyone in the LGBTQ+ sector as well as those who are outside of the said community.

Unfortunately, there are countless cases of discrimination that queer individuals face almost every day; and most cases go unreported or disregarded by government officials, leading to such cases being ignored — to the point that multiple cases are rising: endangering the lives of many. 

Some of these victims lose their lives in the process of being forced to keep their mouths shut. 

Just like Jennifer Laude, a trans woman who died back in 2014 and was not given the justice that she deserved, as her killer was released. Many were angry and distraught by what they heard, and numerous voices called upon justice for the victim, to let Jennifer’s killer pay the consequences for his actions. 

Active Philippine LGBTQ+ Organizations 

Luckily, there are still countless organizations that are active in progressive change for the LGBTQ+ community and how they raise awareness for everyone and create a platform for them to reach out and speak their thoughts. 

From the ProGay, Metropolitan Community Church, & the Golden Gays; various organizations began to open more opportunities and places where the queers could be seen and heard of their needs and rights. 

These groups are primarily a few of the biggest and the most active organizations as of date, and these organizations also engage and help small organizations via partnerships and webinars.

Bahaghari’s movement began back on June 26, 2013, around Quezon Province which occurred around the first Pride March here in the Philippines. 

It became a national democratic organization during Laude's case back on October 14, 2015, in which they had led a movement called Vaklash, where many queer students and workers gathered together to protest against the violence among the LGBTQ+ community. Its current chairperson, Rey Valmores-Salinas, is currently leading the organization by continuously engaging and fighting for the approval of the SOGIE Bill. 

Co-Founded by Roanne Carreon and Tina Boado around November of 2019, the movement of Queer Safe Spaces started its vision and mission to create a society, where Filipino queers alike are free to live their lives with love, acceptance, and pride all the while educating and empowering others. They continuously impact today’s kids and teens by engaging with them in positive posts and are often open to discussion of sexuality and gender preferences. 

Re-Formatting Change in School & Work Policies

Several schools and companies refuse to prosper or to develop changes to their rules and policies, as they excuse that it has been written for so long and that sudden drastic changes are not necessary at all. 

In most cases, many of our trans brothers and sisters have been refused to be recognized via their preferred names (being called by their deadnames– a name that is dead or was once used to address them by), using wrong pronouns when others have specified which pronouns to use, calling them slurs, etc. 

As a result of these perspectives, several individuals are still trying to call the attention of others to emphasize these open-minded changes for a certain school or business to blossom. 

Letting them wear the uniforms they prefer and being called by the names they want, as well as properly using the correct pronouns of everyone around you– can spark good connections among the people in that community and bring further empathy towards the movement and change in old rules and policies.

How You Can Help

Readers may start by sharing their insights and new learnings about the struggles of those in the said community, and how understanding the challenges they face– makes you emphatic and human. 

It lets those who experience tremendous pain and bullying be heard and have a voice to let their concerns out, as well as to let others alongside them know they are not alone; the fight for gender equality and anti-discrimination is still not over. 

Donating and creating safe spaces among your communities (schools and hometowns), as well as using one’s voice to speak up for those who cannot by expressing their utmost concerns via social media and rallies let those above know that these problems need to be seen and addressed, not to be ignored and neglected upon. 

Let us not be ignorant and be one with the cause to create a safer place for our queer folks, whether or not you are part of the said community who is out or still in hiding– or is an ally fighting for the cause, the call for the SOGIE BILL shall be fought until those in the community no longer fear being hate-crimes or be killed for who they are or for whoever they love.