It’s lunchtime. Finally, a chance to sit down, enjoy a meal and find an accompanying form of entertainment either by clicking through TV channels or scrolling through social media platforms until one thing becomes noticeable: queer people seem to have dominated the entertainment industry, especially as comedians.
Stereotypically, queer people are known to send their audiences into fits of laughter every time they come on stage. Their abilities to capture their audience with the incomparable wit and quick humor that they have has led not only their fans but their co-members as well to hang on to their every word.
But as decades pass, with them continuously aiming to make their mark on other fields and industries, the LGBTQIA+ community has proven that they are more than the labels and prejudices. With the likes of Bretman Rock, Vice Ganda, Patrick Starrr, and Manila Luzon becoming household names, the LGBTQIA+ Community expands as those who are part of it grow inspired to be out of the boxes they are expected to be in.
Queer, Filipino, and Proud
Queer Filipinos have taken not only the country and the world by storm as they revolutionize several industries with their hard work and talent. Meet the people serving as inspiration for those who dream of creating change in their industries and in society.
Santi for Fashion
After winning as the second runner-up in Project Runway Philippines Season 2 (2009), Santi Obcena went on and built House of Santi, his own atelier. Although a participant in the MEGA Young Designers 2011 and winner in the Bench-supported Ternocon 2018, Santi proves to be more than just a designer. As the quarantine began last year, Santi also began planning for something that would help lacking Filipinos: the #KaFaceMaskProject. What started as an idea to produce videos that can educate people to create their own face masks at home soon became an advocacy supported by people through donations and volunteers.
Santi has also lent his genius crafts as a costume designer to films such as Temptation Island (2011), I Do Bidoo Bidoo: Heto Napo sila! (2012), and Hey Joe (2013).
Food, Friends, and Business
A group of friends led by Lemon Toledo built their online food business, Bekirie Shop, with a vision of putting out healthy and cruelty-free baked goods for their future customers. Indeed, the owners are brimming with brains as they name their products beautifully and creatively. Week by week, they are able to hit their maximum number of orders with their goodies Bang Bang Lemon Loaf, If You Can Carrot Me, Blueberry than Blue Loaf, and many more. But the passionate friends do not only produce yummy treats; they also strive to create a positive, supportive, and love-filled environment as they organize charity events and donate half of their sales to those in need.
Sam: Film Mastermind
Filmmaker Samantha Lee ensures to champion queer representation in her films. As evident in Baka Bukas (2016) and Billie and Emma (2018), the film director portrayed the experiences of the LGBTQIA+ as realistically as possible. She has definitely geared another step for the community to be properly represented in mass media as Baka Bukas (2016) bagged several awards at the Cinema One Originals Film Festival and Billie and Emma (2018) was screened in the Osaka Asian Film Festival, Roze Filmdagen Amsterdam LGBTQ+ Film Festival, and other international film fests. Direk Sam is just one of many filmmakers who dream of ending misrepresentation in the media and showing the authentic as well as other sides of their stories.
Bop with Jay Som
“Bedroom pop” is how Los Angeles-based singer Jay Som describes the music she produces. But the keen ears of the music critics gave her debut album Everybody Works (2017) critical acclaim. Being the sole writer of the entire album did not hinder Som and her music to be part of the “Best Of” lists of music magazines/critics such as Billboard Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, and Rolling Stone. Her second album, Anak Ko, also received high praise and even a Grammy article. Her Filipino mother, who the experimental album was inspired from, must be proud! Indeed, these albums strengthen her indisputable 8prowess in the art of songwriting.
Rocero on the Ramp
Geena Rocero shines her brightest not only as a transgender Fil-Am supermodel, but also as a TedTalk speaker and a Trans Rights advocate. Together with Tracey Norman, she graced the cover of an edition of Harper Bazaar in 2016 as the first openly transgender models to do such. She has also reached a wide audience with her awe-inspiring and moving Ted Talk “Why I Must Come Out” with over 3.5 million views.
Del Rosario and Doble Discoveries
Cristina del Rosario, a user experience and research designer, empowers people through technology. During her college years, she designed a medical device that aids in administering vaccines easily in rural areas in the country. She also worked with mechanical engineers in transporting vaccines and other medical equipment in Papua New Guinea for her undergraduate thesis. Del Rosario has pointed out that more and more LGBTQ+ scientists feel taken for granted which may lead to them moving to more secure countries — a loss that the Philippines will surely feel.
Psychologist James Doble, a researcher on interpersonal relationships, noted that members of their community in the field of science have a hard time sharing their sexuality and identity with their fellow scientists, unlike LGBTQIA+ artists. Doble uses this knowledge as he sat as the committee head in the premier LGBTQ+ organization, U.P. Babaylan, while completing his doctorate degree at U.P. Diliman. He is also affiliated with organizations such as Center for Open Science, South East Asian Network for Open Science (SEANOS), and Philippine Researchers for Open Science (PROScience).
Neil: Truly Lit
Neil C. Garcia, the director of the University of the Philippine Press, is a renowned poet and author whose book Philippine Gay Culture (1996, republished by Hong Kong University Press 2009) has become a true classic of queer scholarship in Asia. In one interview, the writer expressed how LGBT writers in the Philippines risk being disowned by their families as they come out through their writing. Regardless, Garcia continues to edit and publish literature such as the LadLad anthology of Filipino gay literature (1996) that inspires blooming queer writers like Ian Casocot, author of Old Movies and Other Stories (2005) and Bamboo Girls: Stories and Poems from a Forgotten Life (2018).
These names are only a few of several more queer and proud Filipinos whose contributions to the country and even the world can never be denied. More so, they are continuously growing and increasing tenfold day by day.
The community truly deserves far more than acceptance, but recognition and respect as well. As human beings, it is only right that the discrimination and violence against them end now. More than the applause, what they need are safe spaces. Regardless of who they are and who they choose to be, they are worthy to be loved, respected, and seen as how they present themselves.
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