Suspension of Disbelief

Once there was a young activist

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Outrage Magazine | 13 July 2014

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Clyde1

In the Cordillera regions, there once was a young, outgoing, and carefree individual. He used to not care about what’s happening around him. He lived a frivolous life. But, everything changed when he learned how the macho culture of the Cordillerans affects the lives of those who are considered “different”.

Clyde2His name is Clyde Pumihic. He is 23 years old. He is gay. And he is an activist.

It started when someone he knows narrated an instance of discrimination.

The locals say that in the Cordillera regions, lesbians are more tolerated compared with gays and male-to-female transgenders. In Baguio alone, when gays and transgender women walk along the stretch of Session Road, there wouldn’t be a single time when no one would tease them, or even grope them, touching them from behind.

“That is one of the reasons why gays here in Cordillera would rather hide in the closet. They are afraid that the public would ridicule them. But, if you would look at their situation closely, it’s not healthy to hide their real selves, they need to be educated, ” Clyde said.

At the recently held Baguio Pride 2014 celebration, the call for action of the local LGBTQ community was to come out and never be afraid, “because you are not alone.”

Clyde is a member of different advocacy organizations, but he focuses more on the ones that pushes for human rights.

He makes it a point that he is always present in all community-based activities.

“Regardless of anyone’s gender identity or sexual orientation, everyone deserves to be treated equally and accepted for who they really are,” he said. “I want to be part of that social change. I know it’s not an easy thing, but this what I really want to do.”

Aside from fighting for LGBTQ rights in the Cordillera region, Clyde also advocates for wage increase, lower commodity prices, and more jobs for those who live in the provinces.

Although he is “currently unemployed”, he considers his advocacy work as his 9-to-5 job.

“Another organization that I’m also active in is Gabriela. I don’t only join their activities, but I also write articles and other things for the organization,” Clyde said.

Contradictory to what many activists believe – that you need a sustainable job to fulfill and sustain your advocacy work – Clyde thinks otherwise.

“I don’t believe in what most people say that you can’t just focus on being an activist. I know I’m still young, but I currently have this mindset, that if you have the heart to help other people or affect change in your community, then that is the only thing that matters,” Clyde explained.

Nowadays, young LGBTQ people think that if they join a clan or an organization, and they participate in its activities like outreach and feeding programs, fundraising events, et cetera, then they are already considered advocates.  In reality, they are “just defiant without understanding”.

“Young people should understand and get themselves involved in what’s happening in our society, because it is our future. You cannot just complain that the system or the current administration is not doing anything, you also need to do your part,” Clyde ended.

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

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