Suspension of Disbelief

Archive for November 2013

Envisioning Quezon City as gay capital just like San Francisco

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VERA Files and Yahoo Philippines | 27 November 2013

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Quezon City as the gay capital just like San Francisco and Amsterdam?QC-LGBT-summit-2

Why not, if what Quezon City Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte wants would be achieved.

“We want Quezon City to champion when it comes to practicing the rights of the LGBTs,” Belmonte said during a summit for the LGBTs organized by the Quezon City government in partnership with the University of the Philippines’ Center for Women’s Studies.

The summit was to promote awareness and strengthen the rights of the LGBTs in Quezon City. LGBT stand for Lesbians, Gays, Bi-sexual, Transgender.

“The primary objective of the summit is to gather the concerns of LGBTs from different teams and representations from different districts which will be submitted to the office of the Vice Mayor of Quezon City. They will study and use the data to amend the Anti-Discrimination Ordinance,” BJ Eco, project coordinator of Quezon City LGBT Summit said.

It was on September 16, 2003 when the Anti-Discrimination Ordinance (Q.C., Ordinance No. 1309) was passed in Quezon City, authored by Councilors Janet Malaya, Restituto Malangen, Ramon Medalla, Eric Medina, Jorge Banal, Diorella De Leon, and Jesus Suntay.

The city ordinance prohibits all acts of discrimination directed against homosexuals in any office in matters of hiring, treatment, promotion or dismissal in any office in Quezon City.

But for many LGBTs in Quezon City, they consider the Anti-Discrimination Ordinance as lackluster and too generic. It didn’t address other concerns of the LGBT community in Quezon City.

QC-LGBT-summit3“Although there’s already an Anti-Discrimination Ordinance in Q.C., we feel like that there should be a detailed provisions on what the ordinance covers. The ordinance was simple and it didn’t touch on some issues the LGBTs in Quezon City are facing,”Eco added.

Belmonte suggested that the ideal way to make amendments in the current city ordinance is to get first hand experiences from the people who have actually experienced being discriminated against.

“We wanted to gather different representatives of LGBTs in Quezon City and ask them to give us recommendations on how we should amend the Anti-Discrimination Ordinance so it will be more comprehensive,”she explained.

Last November 16, the Q.C. government invited LGBT organizations and individuals as well as some heterosexuals who support LGBTs, most of them from Quezon City, in a meeting to highlight the pressing matters of the LGBTs.

There were 300 participants; 240 of them invited by the office of the vice mayor through barangay networks. The remaining 60 were from LGBT and ally Quezon organizations which are either Quezon City-based or have made deals and partnership with the local government.

The summit highlighted areas where gender discrimination is rampant: family, community, religion, education,employment, legal, media, and health. QC-LGBT-summit

Specific instances of bullying and discrimination in school, in the workplace and in church were shared. One participant reported that Catholic churches in Quezon City discourages LGBTs to attend mass or volunteer in their activities. “The church should not discriminate anyone who wants to serve God,” he said.

They also asked that they should be entitled to free condoms and contraceptives.

The participants were also asked to give their recommendations on how the city ordinance should be amended. “We will forward all the data that we have gathered to the office of the Vice Mayor,” Eco said, “It’s really nice to know that the Quezon City government shows their concern to the LGBT community, especially with events like this, LGBTs will really feel that they are not alone.”

The summit also received some critical comments from other LGBT organizations, saying that the event was too limiting and it only focuses on the concerns of the LGBTs in Quezon City.

In can work both ways. You can consider this summit as limiting, but we can consider this as a trailblazing move that the Quezon City government is doing for the LGBT community. And we’re hoping that other local municipalities mirror what we’re doing,” Eco said.

“We wouldn’t be surprised if one day Quezon City will be like San Francisco or Amsterdam where LGBTs are properly respected and their rights are guaranteed,” Eco added.

The LGBT summit also aims to inspire other local governments to hold the same awareness events in their respective cities. Other major cities in the Philippines have also passed their own versions of Anti-Discrimination Ordinances are Bacolod City, Davao City, and Cebu City.

 

 

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)

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Slumber Party: Not just a slapstick movie?

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Outrage Magazine | 27 November 2013

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Slumber-Party

It may appear to be just another “limp-wrist type” of indie movie that’s trying to get the attention of the general public by using stereotyped gay images, but according to the hetero actors who portrayed the gay roles, “there’s so much more to the film than the usual comedy punchlines in the story.”

This is what – at least for the people involved in it – is at least worth highlighting in Slumber Party.

This is because, seemingly belying the impression that can be had from the movie’s poster that only highlight the stereotyped homosexual portrayal of the characters, as the movie progresses, it supposedly takes a different direction – that is, the story of friendship.

Directed by Emman dela Cruz, Slumber Party is the story of three gay men (Archi Alemania, RK Bagatsing and Markki Stroem) who met for a sleepover to watch the telecast of a Miss Universe pageant. The movie was set in 2010,  when two “major, major events happened in the country – the hostage taking of the Hong Kong nationals at Quirino Grandstand (and President Noynoy Aquino’s response – or perceived lack of response – to it), and Venus Raj’s pursuit of the Miss Universe title. But their supposed fun-filled night changed when an unexpected intruder (Sef Cadayona) came into the picture.

“It’s a tribute to the Filipino – how we love pageants. But we mixed it with some hostage taking while we’re waiting for Venus Raj’s candidacy. We were actually (also watching the) TV during the hostage taking, so we sort of put it together. It starts with that and ends with the co-relation of the two,” said Dela Cruz, explaining how the movie was conceptualized.

Although the film is only about to get widely released, it was actually first released on November 2012 as part of Cinema One Originals, and it received mixed reviews from different critics.  One said that the movie “struggled to make every light-hearted moment deep and relevant, pumping each hilarious scene with heavy-handed revelations involving nearly every current queer dilemma and issue.” Another critic said that “there are funny bits in this movie, but it lost me completely after a scene where one of the gay men sexually abuses the tied-up intruder.”

The actors explained that Slumber Party is not really a comedy movie. Instead, it is mixed with drama.  ”It’s a story of friends and people who are having a sleepover and can be who they are,” Stroem said. “When you only watch the trailer, you will just see that they’re all gay; but when you watch the movie as a whole, you’ll understand their friendship and their personalities as gay men.”

Stroem, who portrays the character of Elle (in his own words, “the sosyal character among the three and she thinks she’s better than everyone else and the she belongs abroad), sees the movie as an embodiment of what the gays are facing in their everyday lives.

Alemania portrays the character of Jana, the “baklang squatter na nagbibihis babae.” “I don’t find the character offensive; we see those kind of gays everyday,” he said. “At the end of the day, what I did was just work, and before I accepted the role I read the script and for me, I considered it not just a slapstick movie, but something true to life and there’s a lesson in the end,” he said.

Despite the not-too-glowing reviews, Slumber Party is aiming to reach a bigger market, the mainstream.

“We wanted to find a good time for it, and it really takes time for an independent outfit to get a booking. Since we’re small, it takes time for us to strategize considering the resources that we have. We really see the potential of the movie becoming a hit in the mainstream,” Slumber Party publicist Gay Domingo said.

Probably one of the most notable things about the movie is that it features three popular heterosexual actors trying their best to portray gay roles. While – for actors – the role may be a good test of their acting skills, this approach has long been observed as in need of scrutiny because it may well be the new form of blackface, i.e. gayface. We are, as earlier noted, more than mannerisms to get “right”.

On  a more personal note for me, the movie became disturbing when the “tri-beki” fancied to assault the captured heterosexual man, and – worse – one of the gay characters actually sexually abused him. It may be funny from the writer’s point of view, but the very notion ofrape is not funny; just as the stereotyped portrayal of homosexuals when they are around heterosexuals isn’t funny, either. As such, if these are what the writers find funny, then I honestly think there’s something wrong with their sense of humor.

That particular scene – all by itself – belied the (other, and supposedly loftier) objectives of the movie.

It is also somewhat ironic that for Stroem, the storyline of the movie “showcases the different kinds of gays in the world, and that it empowers the gay community. Because gays have that sense of ownership of who they are as a person, that they would not want to change how they think or how they perceive things based on how other people perceive them.”

Because in the end, empowerment was the last thing on my mind after watching the movie.

Slumber Party hits theaters nationwide on November 27.

For more information, check their Facebook account.

 

 

(Outrage Magazine remains the only publication for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the Philippines.)

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What constitutes a relationship

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Outrage Magazine | 13 November 2013

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Finding the “perfect” person to be with for the rest of your life is impossible. So that many are bound to say that when you meet someone and you think he’s perfect, you better run towards the other direction.

This sounds pessimistic, but ever since we started dating (or that night when we first learned how to explore the world of the infamous mIrc), we met different kinds of guys – guys who we thought were perfect only because they have a car or a high-paying job or a “package” anyone can be proud of. But after a couple dates, after multiple shared orgasms, after several Carrie Bradshaw moments with your friends, bragging about the guy you’re currently dating becomes futile, since you still end up with… nothing.

Yes, we’ve had our own share of meeting and being with the boy-next-door type or someone who is so courteous and lovable (the type that even your mom would like to spend her free time with to discuss just about anything under the sun), though – again – it still results to nothing.

The preconceived notion of having a “perfect relationship” is having a partner with the abovementioned traits – that is (and to stress), one who is understanding, one you can lean on, and one you can share the “I will forever be with you” moments.

There may be moments when we questioned ourselves if we’re the one with the problem. But after several glasses of wine while contemplating at home, or after a landslide of cocktails with your friends at your favorite bar, there’s that moment when everything slows down and you realize: “Why did I ever think that I’m the one with the problem? I just want to be with someone with whom I can be happy and contented with.” And just like that, it feels like you’ve just awakened from a bad dream. That moment, along with constant reminders from friends, opens your eyes to reality: it’s the notion that may be wrong because a “perfect relationship” doesn’t really exist.

Because being in that stereotyped notion of a “perfect relationship” doesn’t make you think, it doesn’t make you grow.

But in truth, to have a “perfect relationship” means working for it as it’s not something instant; you have to earn the bonuses along the way.

So I say when you meet someone who opens your eyes and heart again to something you never knew you are, you better hold him tight and don’t let go. Because it is like finding the shiny silver needle in the haystack.

He may not the person you have been waiting for, nor the person you have been looking for, but – for me – meeting him is akin to meeting your destiny – cheesy as this may sound. Of the many guys you’ve been with over the years, who helped you lose interest in the words “ideal” and “the one” because of failed relationships and false flings, you then meet someone who – when you saw something as simple as his smile – made you realize that this person could actually be someone you’re going to love and feel forever young with for the rest of your life. This time, the mode of attraction is different. Instead of being attracted to his fancy ride or being bewildered with his well-endowed package; you are attracted to something deeper.

This time you know that when you finally, really love a person; you need to take care of him and make sure he’s always being taken care of. Because when you really love a person, you make sure he gets the love that he truly deserves. Never take him for granted and never make him your second priority.

But giving that person your undivided attention does not mean you will forego your other responsibilities and priorities (like your family, friends or work). Instead, you need to learn how to balance and everything will start falling into their place; everything will start to go hand-in-hand.

Yes, it’s harder to maintain a relationship that stands on a foundation that’s made out of emotions rather than be in a relationship that evolves around fancy stuff – his cars, the boy-next-door image, a beautiful endowed package, or fancy dinners. But the rewards you will get from it are all worth it. Because this is when you finally know what you have is worth keeping.

 

 

(Outrage Magazine remains the only publication for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the Philippines.)

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