Suspension of Disbelief

Posts Tagged ‘lgbt empowerment

And Ryan met Sebastian

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Outrage Magazine | 18 June 2016

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“He has been my crush since I saw ‘Bubble’ (Sebastian Castro’s music video),” Ryan Chua said.

But initially, there were no intentions for the two to have an actual face-to-face meet-up.

“I was (just) thrilled when he added me on Facebook and followed me on Twitter,” Ryan added.

As is common with online friends, the two chatted now and then.

But then fate had other plans for them.

In 2013, they finally met when Sebastian invited Ryan to his art exhibit. And that first time they met, “no one had to put his best foot forward or send chocolates and flowers just to please each other,” Ryan said to Outrage Magazine.

It was not an immediate “thing”; there wasn’t even any second meet-up. At that time, Sebastian had to fly to US and Ryan had to prepare to leave for the UK for his journalism scholarship.

But their communication continued. That is, while they were away from each other, they would Skype on a regular basis and talk about different things – from Philippine politics and entertainment gossips, to ideas for Sebastian’s new songs. And there were also surprise visits in between.

Ryan-and-Seb“We became best friends first even before any love confession was made,” Ryan said.

When Ryan finished his scholarship, he returned to the Philippines. The two started living together.

As a couple, they were almost always present in LGBT-related events. But as their relationship grew stronger, it also attracted bashers, many even from within the LGBT community.

“Hearing (negative) views comes with making a relationship public, especially when it’s between two men,” said Ryan, who nonetheless noted that the observations were somewhat superficial, comparing Ryan and Sebastian on “how we look.” “But we don’t let those comments affect our relationship. Most people see only the physical. Often, they don’t see the emotional and intellectual connection.”

But just as they’ve started establishing a life together in Manila, an opportunity came up for Ryan to work for a media outlet in Beijing, China.

Being apart from each other is not new to them; after all, they started out as online friends. Now, social media has become a tool for them to constantly communicate with each other.

“It is not always easy. Being away from each other always has challenges. I miss him every day. Nothing beats physical contact and intimacy,” Ryan said. “But we’re both mature enough to appreciate the joys of a one to three-hour Skype or Facetime call. When we don’t have time to call, short messages would do.”

Sometimes they would even watch movies or TV shows together while on a video call “because enjoying anything with him is always double the fun,” Ryan added.

Though they had not planned too far ahead into the future, they are currently focused on their own respective fields, so eventually, they could enjoy their successes together.

“I am very fortunate to have a partner who knows me more deeply than anyone does, who has big dreams like I do, and who understands that, sometimes, we need to be apart so that we could build a stable future,” Ryan ended.

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(Established in April 2007, Outrage Magazine remains the only publication exclusive for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual and allied community in the Philippines.)

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Divided we fall

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Outrage Magazine | 18 June 2016

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Faces-of-LGBT

We love to say that the LGBT community revels in diversity – after all, our multi-colored rainbow flag is supposed to highlight that even if there are many of us who may come from different walks of life, we are still united in our struggle for the same cause (i.e. seeking equal rights for all).

Suffice it to say, I have seen the various faces that constitute the LGBT community in the Philippines.

I have met some who claim to represent (and – perhaps reflective of the elevating of the rich in a largely elitist heterosexual society – with actual pride at that) the “coño/conyo/konyo LGBT”, the elite who fail to see their privilege.

I have met some of the “karaniwan (common)”, whose main concern is to ensure day-to-day survival.

And I have met some of the “bekinals (a play with “beking kanal” or gays from the gutters; a term that may be politically incorrect, but is still used by many when referring to themselves to highlight their lowly status), those who are at the fringes of society; and whose very existence is marked by the hardships encountered not only by being LGBT, but also by their social status.

I’d have to say that, unfortunately, these segregations do not at all “blend”. That is, at least as far as my experience in the Philippines is showing, there’s no “waving of the same banner/flag” for the LGBT community.

We are too… broken; too divided.

And this could spell our fall.

Hear so many of the “coño/conyo/konyo LGBT” speak supposedly on behalf of the “entire LGBT community” while only focusing on such issues as marriage equality and passing the anti-discrimination bill in Congress (they do this in between parties or photoshoots or the likes). The mainstream media gives them the platform; and their allies in the ruling class (from politicians to celebrities) only “consult” with them on just about every LGBT-related issue (before publicly claiming they already spoke with the entire LGBT community). But they remain mum on other day-to-day issues, e.g. the policies being developed in Muslim areas in Mindanao that also affect LGBT people there, the effect among LGBT pensioners of the veto for SSS pension hike, and the failure of the Department of Health and PhilHealth to deal with the disparity of services offered in treatment hubs. Here, there seems to be more concern with faux publicity stunts that supposedly banned the expression of LGBT love, than actually finding practical solutions to deal with those who perpetuate the ills that affect us.

And then hear many of the karaniwan and bekinal LGBT people, whose stance is – because they are often ignored anyway – to just keep to themselves.

We call our divisions “diversity”, as if by doing so the cracks from within are covered up and are therefore made more appealing. In reality, there is nothing empowering about this often unspoken great divide.

We have to bridge the divide.

Because there is always room for everyone on the table.

Start getting immersed in different contexts. Ask the karaniwan and bekinal LGBT people to speak about their issues (in Congress/Senate, in the media). Stop only talking about the glamorous and start including issues of those who are unable to speak.

Because only if everyone is represented will our community be truly united.

And only then will we be truly a “community of diversity”.

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(Established in April 2007, Outrage Magazine remains the only publication exclusive for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual and allied community in the Philippines.)

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Fiona Solis: The transgender cometh

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Outrage Magazine | 29 March 2014

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Fiona-1

She was recently named as one of the hottest transgenders in the world, along with Carmen Carrera, a RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni. She was also recognized as one of the famous transgenders in the world. She is a fashion model and a budding actress living in Thailand.

What may not be as known about her is that she ran away from home at a very young age to do what she wanted to do: that is, to make a name for herself. And several years later, she succeeded.

Meet Fiona Solis, a transwoman who originated from Ormoc City.

Fiona-SolisART IN PROGRESS

Fiona calls herself as an “ongoing piece of performance art”.  And this, with the countless things that happened in her life, only affirms who Fiona really is.

She grew up living with her grandmother, though she later moved in with her father. But because of the bitter relationship she had with her stepmother, Fiona decided to leave and start a new life on her own.

When Fiona was 15 years old, she was allegedly raped by three men. She recalled being asked to dance in front of them, and then she was forced to play with a 1.5 Coca Cola bottle in her ass, and then they abused her with guns pointed at her. But while it was a very traumatic moment in her life, Fiona used that situation to fight and become a better version of herself.

She worked in salons so she can earn a living. Eventually, Fiona discovered the world of beauty pageants.

“I was fascinated with the beautiful display of those women on stage. They are like gorgeous peacocks. And I identified very deeply with all the color and glitter,” Fiona said.  “It might also have been a reaction to my mother dying when I was three months old. Perhaps I was trying to bring the femininity back into my life.”

Fiona first joined a beauty pageant when she was 10 years old.  Luckily, she won the title.

It was in joining beauty contests that she mastered the art of beauty and used it to her advantage.

“Most of the transsexuals who were joining beauty pageants wanted their skin to be whiter, but I was not like them. I wanted to be who I am really. I’m proud of my skin,” Fiona said.

One of her achievements was when she joined Queen of Cebu, a prestigious transgender beauty pageant in the southern part of the country. She placed as one of the 21 finalists, chosen from over 100 participants. Even if she didn’t win the title, Fiona considers it as “the culmination of the display part of my life.  It was a chance to be the ultimate peacock.”

For Fiona, “it was also a way to re-emphasize to the world how important it is to stand up and be yourself in the world.”

Aside from joining beauty pageants, Fiona is also active in the world of fashion. She has modeled for several brands internationally – in print, in TV, and in the runways. Some of her notable modeling appearances on TV include: a luxury paper bag in Italy, handbags, online poker games, and cosmetic surgery. She also did several runway fashion shows for some local and foreign designers.

“There have been many turning points in my career, and I hope there will be more in the future,” Fiona said. “I was very lucky to have a very supportive parent, my father.”

Although she already achieved and reached many successes in her life, Fiona still feels that “I have one more mountain to climb, which is the international pageant held in Pattaya, Thailand, the Queen International. After that, I hope to focus more on fashion and acting.”Meet-Fiona-Solis

CONFRONTING DISCRIMINATION

She also noted that “I did grow up, we all have, in an environment where there is constant discrimination.” But instead of succumbing to the repression she encountered, she used it to reinforce her determination to stay in her course and to continue improving her craft.

“There have also been instances in government offices where I get odd looks from the officials every time they compare my appearance to the ones in my documents,” Fiona said, adding that for transgender people, “(we) have to go the extra mile just to be allowed to travel.”

Today, she lives and works in Thailand, juggling several jobs. She is a teacher and a tour guide, while she also waits for the agents to call her.

She said that the decision to live in another country was an “effort to escape the mild oppressive atmosphere of the Philippines when it comes to LGBTQ people.”

Fiona was also featured in several documentaries, and in radio and TV programs, where she discussed what it’s like to be a transgender. Here, she always narrates her experiences during her humble beginnings in Ormoc and Cebu, describing the ordeals of being a transgender.

She also posed for several photographers, depicting the “reality” of transgenders. One of which was by renowned photographer Ingetje Tadros, where Fiona was shot in full frontal, showing her augmented breasts and flaccid penis.

“The (photography) project was a matter of being proud of who I am, all of me. I am a unique individual, head to toe. I am not ashamed of it. I am promoting LGBTQ awareness in my own little way, through my personal example,” Fiona said.

In a world where discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression is still pervasive, the likes of Fiona may be considered as unsung movers that do not always get recognition. But while she may be dismissed by many as just another pageant queen or a transgender model who is making her way in the world stage, in her journey, Fiona helps change perspectives by never forgetting who she really is. “I want to keep exploring this idea of personal creation and helping others do the same,” she said.

When asked what Filipino transgendersshould do in times of repression, Fiona said: “We cannot let a set of outdated ideas on gender and roles dictate who we are, how we act, and what we do. Have personal integrity; love yourself first, not just the image in the mirror, but the person inside you as well. It is important for everyone to live a life that they can be proud of – that is the mark of success.”

For additional information about Fiona Solis, visit www.fionasolis.net or her Facebook page.

 

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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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