Suspension of Disbelief

Posts Tagged ‘Pride

Close encounters with pro- and anti-LGBT Christ believers during Pride

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Outrage Magazine | 6 July 2017

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“They’re here again,” a gay man in his 40s said.

He was referring to the religious protesters during the annual Pride parade in Metro Manila, making their presence felt with their on-your-face way to (supposedly) teach the LGBT community members about everything that’s “wrong” with their way of living.

“I came here because I love God. And if LGBTs face God, they face their sin. And if they face their sin, they will know how much God loves them,” John, a Born Again Christian from Francisville, angrily yelled.

John was on the sidelines, separated from the protesters by some policemen. But whether they’re there to protect the LGBT revelers or the so-called Christian protesters is up for questioning – the latter may be vociferous, but the former have the number (it’s Pride parade, after all).

Another Born Again Christian protester, Angela, added: “We are are here so people will know that they would need to repent because God loves them. We love them. They need to repent so they will come to know Jesus. LGBTs need to repent in order to come to the kingdom of heaven.”

In various English versions of the Bible, homosexuality was mentioned in several books.

For instance, in Leviticus 18:22-23:

22 You must not have sexual intercourse with a male as one has sexual intercourse with a woman; it is detestable act. 23 You must not have sexual intercourse with any animal to become defiled with it, and a woman must not stand before an animal to have sexual intercourse with it; it is perversion.

Romans 1:26-28:

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.

1 Timothy 1:8-11:

8 We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9 We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebel, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality for slave traders and liars and perjurers – and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.

And for these protesters, the Bible should be interpreted to the letter.

Surprisingly, Christian leaders themselves are against this very approach.

For instance, Pope Benedict XVI, former leader of the Roman Catholic Church, said that “an authentic interpretation of the Bible must always be in harmony with the faith of the Catholic,” as he criticized ‘fundamentalist’ or ‘literalist’ interpretations and urged a “renewed appreciation for the symbolic and spiritual interpretation techniques used by the ancient fathers of the church.”

Meanwhile, Pope Francis, the current leader of the Catholic faith, still one of the strongest religions that exist, encourages people to embrace gays and transexuals. “Each case must be welcomed, accompanied, studied, discerned, and integrated. When a person (who is gay) arrives before Jesus, Jesus certainly will not say, ‘Go away because you are homosexual,” Pope Francis was quoted as saying.

So much for leadership, though, with the flock not taking heed.

In a poll conducted by Gallup, three out of four Americans actually believe that the Bible is the ACTUAL WORD of God and should be TAKEN LITERALLY. This is even after taking into consideration not only the inconsistencies, but the outdated perspectives in the Bible.

The surprising thing is the nitpicking of chapters and verses from the Bible seemingly to justify personal positions.

Take for instance Sodom and Gomorrah, which has nothing to do with homosexuality.

Even the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has stated that the LGBT community should not be condemned and should be given respect.

And there’s Leviticus 20:13, which states that “If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”

So anyone who would take the Bible literally must also campaign for the execution of homosexuals.

“We never said we hate LGBTs. We never said LGBTs do not deserve to be happy. They just need to repent and welcome Jesus into their lives again. We never said LGBTs are bad. What they are doing on the other hand… they need to change it,” Angela said.

Her companion John is louder: “They (LGBTs) are hypocrites! How can they know God if what they are doing is wrong?”

But then also at Pride, there are other Christians who are openly asking for apology for all the hate caused by religion/s to LGBT community members.

And so yes, these Born Again Christian protesters are entitled to voice their opinions while quoting Bible verses left and right. And these Christians asking for the LGBT community’s forgiveness are also entitled to air their side.

In the end, it’s safe to say that with the Bible, it’s a matter of interpretation and… morals. But judgment is anchored on the discourse of human rights; and here, alas, who’s on the wrong and on the right side of fence?

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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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Pride in the eyes of those at the fringes of LGBT community

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Outrage Magazine | 23 June 2017

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Everything LGBT-related is magnified in June every year, marked as the month when LGBT Pride is supposed to be celebrated (thanks, largely, to its Western-led identification as “Pride Month” because it was when the Stonewall Riots happened in New York City in 1969).

But while discussions on the evolution of Pride has already been happening overseas (again, largely in Western contexts, with the commercialization of Pride getting flak, such as THIS, THIS and THIS; and yes, some support), the same has not been really happening in the Philippines. Yes, discussions about the annual “walk” being identified as a “march” (meaning it’s political) versus a “parade” (meaning it’s just for show) have happened in the past, but – by and large – the evolution of Pride here to end up mimicking Western model/s can be argued to be not happening.

Fact: There will be opponents and supporters of both sides.

But in the midst of the noise, what needs to be kept in mind is that Pride is supposed to celebrate the “rainbow diversity”. That is, it’s supposed to be for everyone, not just for the select few (who can afford to access it).

Because there remain many members of the LGBT community whose narratives are often just left in the cutting room, marked as “not sexy” or “not newsworthy”.

These are the #KaraniwangLGBT, our LGBT brothers and sisters who are at the fringes not just of society, but even of the LGBT community. Those whose idea of Pride is limited to “it’s not for people like us”.

Outrage Magazine chats with some of those still looking for Pride… and yet seemingly left by the very movement that’s supposed to help them find this Pride.

THE LESBIAN CONFIDANT 

People always mistake them as lovers. They’ve known each other for more than five years now.

But “magkaibigan lang kami. May boyfriend siya at mga anak, tapos ako, may nililigawan (we’re just friends. She has a boyfriend and kids, and me, I’m wooing another),” Jeng said.

They both live in Tondo, among the informal settlers there. Each day, they share meals together – with the kids and other family members.

Alas-otso ng umaga nung tumawag siya sa akin. Iyak siya ng iyak. Binalita niya sa akin na nakuha na niya ‘yung HIV test niya, at positive siya (She called me at eight in the morning. She was crying. She told me she got the result of her HIV test, and that she tested positive),” Jeng continued.

Jeng is a pedicab driver. On a good day, “kumikita ako ng P150. Pero kung wala masyadong pasahero, P50lang. Nagbibigay pa kasi ako sa may-ari ng pedicab (I earn P150. But if there aren’t many passengers, just P50. I also have to give the pedicab owner his share).”

But nowadays, “mas mahirap kumita. Kasi binabantayan at sinasamahan ko siya palagi kapag nagpupunta sa ospital. Hindi ko siya kayang pabayaan kasi ang dami na namin pinagsamahan. Noong ako ang nagkaproblema dati, nandun siya palagi sa tabi ko. Kahit na hirap ako sa sitwasyon ko, okay lang kasi masaya ako at kasama ko best friend ko (it’s harder to earn. I go with her to the hospital. I can’t leave her alone. We’ve been through a lot already. When it was me who had problems, she was there. It’s not easy but, I’m happy I can be with her),” Jeng said.

Asked about Pride, and the annual march/parade, she looked confused: “Pride March? Ano ‘yun? Puro kasiyahan lang yata yan at same-sex marriage. Paano naman kami makikinabang dyan (What’s that? It’s just for partying and for same-sex marriage? What’s that to us)?” she asked.

THE ‘KERI LANG’ WORKER 

“Al – two letters lang. ‘Yan ang binigay sa akin na pangalan. Keri lang, at least madali lang tandaan (My name is Al – just two letters. That’s the name given to me, so that’s okay. At least it’s easy to remember),” he said.

Al flips burgers for a living.

Wala akong basic na sahod, porsyento lang. Kapag kumita itong store, may take home ako (I don’t get basic salary, just a percentage of what the store earns. If the store earns something, then I get to take home something),” he said.

Al works for 16 hours every day. Sometimes, he earns P500 in a day. But on a regular basis, his take home is from P150 to P200 per day.

Pinapaaral ko pa kapatid ko. Tapos nangungupahan lang kami (I also send a sibling to school. And we just rent our place),” he said.

Then trying to sound optimistic: “Keri lang, buti nga at may trabaho ako. Hindi katulad ng iba dyan, hirap na hirap maghanap ng trabaho (It’s okay, at least I have a job. Others have a hard time finding a job),” he added.

With Al only getting some five hours of rest every day, “celebrating” Pride is far from his mind. The priority, he said, is for him to earn a decent living – even a small amount – as long as “wala akong ginagawang masama (I don’t do anything illegal).”

THE DEVOTEE

Ano pangalan mo? Dadasalan kita. Sa ngalan sa Amahan, sa Anak ug sa Espiritu Santo, amen. Senyor Sto Niño, Mama Mary, Senyor San Pedro Calungsod, mga santos, mga santas. Mahal na Senyor Sto. Niño…”

Her name is Gretchen. She has been a candle vendor at Magellan’s Cross in Cebu for more than 30 years now. She inherited her job from her ancestors. It was passed onto her mother, and after she passed away, Gretchen took over.

Araw-araw ako nagdadasal dito kay Senyor Sto. Niño. Si Sto. Niño, mas more na malapit kami sa kanya, maraming blessing siya binibihgay sa amin,” she shared.

As a devout Catholic and believer of Sto. Niño, Gretchen is always ridiculed because she is trans.

But she said: “Unsa ang kinahanglan nga ako kaulawan? Dili ko usa ka kriminal, dili ko usa ka kawatan (What should I be ashamed of? I’m not a criminal. I’m not a thief),” she said.

Gretchen thanks God that despite the discrimination she is experiencing, there are still many people who continue to trust her with their religious intercessions.

But – aside from praying for others – every night, she also prays for people to respect her for who and what she really is.

Mahal na Senyor Sto. Niño, salamat sa pagpasaylo kanako (thank you for forgiving me). Viva Pit Senyor! Mahal na Sto. Niño,” she ended. 

THE CHARMING WAITRESS

Nagkaroon ako ng boyfriend dati, estudyante lang siya. Gwapo siya, fresh na fresh ang itsura. Kaya lang tuwing nagkikita kami, binibigyan ko siya ng allowance para may panggastos siya sa school (I had a BF before. He was a student. He was handsome. But every time we met, I had to give him money, his allowance for his schooling),” Kakay shared as she prepared the paresorders. “Wala naman akong choice. Wala ako mahanap na matinong lalaki na pwedeng maging boyfriend. Isa sa marming rason, wala akong maayos na trabaho – trabaho na pwede ako ipagmalaki at iuwi sa bahay para ipakilala (It’s not like I have a choice. I couldn’t find a proper man to be my BF. One of the reasons is I don’t even have a good job – a job that will make him proud to introduce me to his family).”

Kakay works in one of the pares houses in Manila. She has been with them for many years already, even if“mababa lang ang sahod, okay na rin (I don’t earn much, though that’s just fine).”

She tried her luck – several times actually – to apply for other jobs. But the usual answer that Kakay said she gets: “Hindi kami tumatanggap ng bakla. Mahirap na, baka magkaproblema pa kami sa iyo (We don’t take in gay people. You could just give us problems).”

Kakay identifies as a woman, and she longs to be able to transition. “Hindi ako pamhinta, hindi ako bakla, babae ako. Hindi niyo palang nakikita ang totoo kong anyo (I’m not ‘straight-acting’, I’m not gay, I’m a woman. But you haven’t seen my real personhood yet).”

Kakay is proud with her life – somehow. Pinaghirapan ko ang lahat ng ito (I worked hard for what I now have),” she said. “Pero kung may pagkakataon na mas maging okay ang sitwasyon ko, syempre attack ako doon. Pero sa tingin ko malabo na mangyari ‘yun, kasi hindi naman kami nakikita (But if there’s a chance to do better, I’d go there. Though this doesn’t seem realistic because no one really sees us).”

THE ANGEL BARKER

Outrage Magazine first met the Angel of Quezon Avenue in 2014, a transgender woman barker who said “matagal ko na ginagawa ito. Bata palang ako,barker na ako (I’ve been doing this for a while now. I was just a child, I was already a barker).”

She did not finish college because her family could not afford to send her to school. She was left with no choice but to succumb to one of the easiest ways to earn a living.

Sumubok ako rumaket sa iba last year pero walang nangyari. Tapos naghanap ako ng ibang trabaho, wala rin tumanggap sa akin (I tried looking for other jobs, but nothing happened. No one wanted to hire me),” Angel said. “Ganito talaga ang buhay, kailangan mong tanggapin ang sitwasyon mo. Ngayon tiis-tiis lang. Basta magkakasama kami ng pamilya ko (That’s life. You have to accept your situation. Now, you just put up with things. As long as I’m with my family).”

Of course, if given a chance to do a different work with a better pay, “tatanggapin ko ‘yun! Walang pagdadalawang isip (I’ll accept that – no second thoughts).”

Today, Angelo continues to be a jeepney and FX barker. She earns P50 to P60 in a day.

THE SEX WORKER

PJ just turned 18 last May. He celebrated his birthday with two of his closest friends over a bottle of Red Horse Mucho and Chippy while walking at Plaza Divisoria.

Ito lang kaya ng budget. Wala kasi masyadongcustomer. Okay na rin, na-celebrate ko namanbirthday ko (This is all I can afford. There aren’t a lot of customers. But it’s okay, I was still able to celebrate my birthday),” he said.

PJ is from Cagayan de Oro. When he was 16 years old, he went to Manila to look for work. In just a matter of two days, he got a job at the pier. He was earning P150 per day.

Pero wala akong tinutuluyan ‘nun, doon lang din ako sapier natutulog. Tapos syempre maliit lang ‘yung P150 na kita. Kadalasan isang beses lang ako kumakain sa isang araw (But I was homeless then. Often, we just slept at the pier. Also, P150 isn’t a big amount. At times we just eat once a day),” PJ recalled.

To augment his income, he resorted to sex work.

Pagkatapos kong magbuhat ng mga delivery, naglalakad na ako sa Roxas Boulevard hangang Star City. Minsan may edad na babae ang kumukuha sa akin, minsan matandang bakla, minsan mag-asawa (After work, I’d walk along Roxas Blvd. until I reach Star City. At times, older women hired me, at times older gay men, and at times couples),” PJ said.

But after three weeks, he lost his raket at the pier. And since he did not have a place to stay or know anyone in Manila, he saved up – from paid sexual encounters – and went back to CDO.

Today, he is with his boyfriend and girlfriend – yes, he is in a relationship with two people. Both are also sex workers.

Wala naman masama kung tatlo kami sa relasyon. Nagmamahalan kami. Mabuti rin ito, at least tatlo kami nagtutulungan sa buhay (There’s nothing wrong with having three people in a relationship. We all love one another. It’s also good since we’re all able to help each other out),” PJ ended.

THE FATHER AND THE SON

Dati akong construction worker, pero huminto na ako ngyaon. May anak akong bakla (I used to be a construction worker. But I stopped. I have a gay son),Mang Rey shared.

His gay son is only 16 years old and they live in Quezon province. Every two months, they wake very early in the morning, around 2:00 AM, to travel to Manila.

Nalungkot ako nung nalaman ko na HIV-positive ang anak ko. Tinatanong ko siya kung saan o paano niya nakuha yung sakit, pero hindi siya nagkukwento. Tumutulo na lang ang luha niya (It saddens me knowing he has HIV. I ask him how he got infected, but he doesn’t tell me. He just sheds tears),” Mang Rey said, wiping his own tears.

Their family used to be in a better financial situation, but because of his son’s medical condition – and the insufficient support that PhilHealth gives to PLHIVMang Rey is now struggling to make ends meet.

Lumapit kami sa iba’t-ibang agencies para humingi ng suporta. Tapos nung nalaman nila na bakla ang anak ko, parang naging komplikado yung proseso. May ganun pa pala hangang ngayon (We’ve approached various agencies to ask for help. But when they found out my son’s gay, the process changed. I didn’t know things like that still happen these days),” he said, dismayed.

He added: “Sana ung mga NGO dyan o ung mga grupo para sa mga bakla at may HIV, tignan nila ung mga may kailangan talaga, hindi lang ung mga may kaya. Kami ang mas may kailangan ng atensyon at suporta (I hope NGOs, LGBT groups and groups for PLHIVs look at those who really need help, not those who are affluent. It’s us who really need attention and support).”

Pride – we say – is for everyone, including (if not particularly for) those at the fringes, the people most in need of finding this Pride.

Because sans them in the equation, ours is a tattered rainbow, with the destruction coming from within…

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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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Fighting for what we believe is beautiful – Adore Delano

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Outrage Magazine | 01 March 2015

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timthumb-1“It’s so cliché, but it’s always ‘be who you are’. Sometimes clichés are clichés because they’re right. It’s just as simple as that.  Don’t be afraid to just be who you are. Speak up, really.”

That is Adore Delano’s (real name:Danny Noriega) advice to young LGBTQ people.

“I always say that a lot of the drag queens get flak for what they do, but the first person in Stonewall who threw that stone in the glass was a drag queen. It’s like we fight for what we believe in and I think it’s a beautiful thing. If you have a voice, fucking speak up!”

Delano finished as one of the top three contestants on RuPaul’s Drag Race‘s sixth season, thereby making a name as an international drag queen. Even if she did not win the title as “America’s Next Drag Superstar”, she was one of the few queens who joined the reality show who ended up making a name somehow.

In an exclusive interview with Outrage Magazine, Delano recalled how the whole experience opened new doors for her life and career.

“My whole life changed. I can take care of my family now. I can confidently say that I don’t have to think about how much money I have in my bank account to buy this dress or anything.”

Delano could still recall how things were in the past, when she was just starting, “I was always that poor queen who would borrow $4 to buy a pack of cigarettes,” she said.  “But I don’t really have to do that anymore.”

Delano’s first album, “Till Death Do Us Party”, logged the biggest sales in a week from any of RuPaul’s Drag Race competitors, selling 5,000 copies during the week of its release.

The record also produced several singles that charted, like Party, which debuted at No. 3 on the Dance/Electronic Albums chart and at No. 59 on Billboard 200; and I Adore You, which debuted at No. 49 on the Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart and at No. 34 on Dance/Electronic Digital Songs.

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Delano was in Manila recently, where casual and hardcore fans witnessed not only her singing prowess, but her wit.

“(My stay in Manila) has been fun. I think (the LGBT community here) is awesome. There are a lot of people who go to their favorite bars here, and they support the queens, and they appreciate all the work that these queens put on their shows. And they actually appreciate them,” Delano said.

Delano is now busy writing songs for her new album.

“I went through a lot of stuff last year and I get to put a lot of that into my music and just express myself,” she said.

And with her new album, she hopes to reach an even wider audience and inspire people through her songs.

“Hopefully people will gravitate towards the songs and can relate to them. I want to break new boundaries with my new album. And I’m really hoping that I hit the kids in the heart with my songs,” she said.

Delano recounted what it was like when she was growing up and how the things that happened to her
became life lessons.timthumb-2

“I was always unapologetic with the way that I was when I was growing up,” she said. “But it was hard. I got bullied a lot.”

Delano added: “You learn from that and you gain strength. It’s whether you fall from it or you learn from it and you build walls up. I felt like wearing makeup was like my superhero mask. And I was like, ‘no one’s going to fuck with me’.”

Delano has long moved from bitterness.  Asked what she can say to those who make the lives of LGBTQ people harder, she said: “They are wonderful. A friend of mine told me that when someone has anything to criticize against you, just look at them and say: ‘You are wonderful’. It’s good to just gravitate against all the negativity and just fuck them.”

For more information on Adore Delano, visit http://www.adoredelano.com, like her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.

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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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Introducing… Lady Gagita

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Outrage Magazine | 23 June 2014

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Lady-Gagita3

It was in 2009, during Lady Gaga’s “The Fame” era, when 20-year-old Vinzon Leojay Booc, a.k.a. Lady Gagita, started impersonating the “Poker Face” hit maker. His “Telephone” parody video, one of his firsts, attracted the attention of netizens and Filipino fans of Lady Gaga, garnering more than 100,000 hits on YouTube, and was shared many times on Facebook. Since then, he became a household name as one of the – arguably – best and funniest parody artists in the Philippines.

Lady-Gagita2RECYCLED PARODY QUEEN

“I started from scratch. The videos that I made before weren’t as polished and accurate as the ones I have recently made,” Gagita said.

All of Gagita’s parody videos were done with minimal budget.  “The production cost comes from my own pocket and sometimes, some of my followers donate to help produce the videos,” he added.

And if you will notice in all his videos, Gagita uses recycled materials to recreate the actual props and set used by Lady Gaga. Surprisingly, the finished products closely resemble the originals.

Gagita admits that, of course, his end product may not look as polished, but his main objective in recreating the videos – that is, to entertain the viewers – are accomplished.

The lack of budget didn’t stop Gagita to continue doing his parodies. He didn’t consider it as an obstacle, but rather a challenge. With the help of his friends, known as the House of Gagita, one by one, he recreated all of Lady Gaga’s music videos, album and single covers, and photo shoots.

The production of his parody videos improved through the years, and though he still uses recycled materials, the quality of costumes, props, and editing got better.

In the end, his hard work paid off.

PINOY LADY GAGA

The local entertainment industry eventually noticed Gagita’s talent. He was invited to guest in different talk shows and entertainment programs, while being dubbed as the “Pinoy Lady Gaga.”

Bars and clubs around the metro, from BED Bar, Palawan 2, and Vizio, among others, also took notice of his incredible impersonation and talent. Every so often, Gagita performs Lady Gaga’s latest material, and he never fails to get a loud applause every time he finishes his number.

Every time Lady Gaga releases a new single, music video, or performs live, in a month’s time, those following him can most definitely expect Gagita to release or perform his own version of it.

That his passion to mimic Lady Gaga earned Gagita fame is an understatement.

But more than the fame, “aside from being a Lady Gaga parody performer, which I already considered as part of my life, it is also my advocacy to empower the LGBT people in the entertainment industry,” he said. “I want to inspire the youth to release their inner talent as well as their true self, especially those who are afraid to come out.”

Gagita also became one of the faces of the 2010 LGBT Pride celebration.

“Every time I perform, I want people to see that LGBT people (should not) be discriminated, and that we should be heard by the government,” he explained.

IMPERSONATING TO THE NEXT LEVEL

Gagita has taken the art of parody to the next level. He spends all of his time practicing dance routines, recreating the costumes and props, and visualizing how he will execute his next parody.

“A big change occurred to me, especially in my lifestyle. I get to meet a lot of new people all the time, work with prominent artists and performers, and I gained more followers as the years passed. And I will continue doing this to entertain people and to empower LGBT people,” Gagita said.

Aside from Lady Gaga, he also impersonates Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Nicki Minaj, Amy Winehouse, and Elsa the Snow Queen (from the movie Frozen).

 

“I consider what I’m doing as a performance art. It’s not just about copying Lady Gaga or other artists, it’s actually embodying the character of the person and not a lot people can do that perfectly,” he proudly said.

Currently, Gagita is busy making the parody video for G.U.Y.

For Gagita, what matters at the end of the day is self-fulfillment. And so, after he washes the make-up off his face and removes the costumes, he just wants to “live a normal life with my family and with my long time partner, Raymond,” he said.

And for as long as Lady Gaga is in the limelight, “I will continue being Lady Gagita and being an inspiration to LGBT people,” he said, “I would also like to send my appreciation to my fans for their unconditional support. I will not stop giving you full entertainment. Come out and be discovered, maybe you can also make a difference.”

To watch Lady Gagita’s parody videos, visit his YouTube channel. To find out more about Lady Gagita, visit his Facebook and Tumblr pages.

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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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What Pride means

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Outrage Magazine | 06 December 2013

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Strength-in-Colors

What are we really celebrating during Pride?

I was talking to a clan member a few days ago, during the World AIDS Day 2013 observance; and I asked him what he was doing there.  “Hindi ko alam, sumama lang ako kasi may nag-aya. Ang sabi nila event daw ito ng mga may AIDS,” he said.

And then we got to talking about Pride, and I asked him if he’s joining the Pride event the following weekend, he was just as vehement. “Of course! We’re going to attend the street party. Hindi na kamisasama sa parade kasi sayang saoras at nakakapagod lang, puro kabaklaan lang naman ‘yun,” he said, somewhat dismissively.

I was astounded by his ill-educated answers.

Because, apparently, for some, Pride celebration is but a good excuse for them to get drunk or to find their next best hookup. As this guy stressed, Pride celebration is all about meeting new guys while dancing the night away with your friends.

And I worry: Is it only while doing these that we feel proud of ourselves?

He isn’t alone in having this way of thinking. In fact, many LGBTs of the younger generation share the sentiment.

But, really, are they to be solely blamed?

I’d argue that this way of seeing is because of a combination of factors, not helped by the wrong that the public is getting and that the LGBT community itself has been sending out.

What’s happening right now in the Philippines, when celebrating Pride, is limited. At times, many see it as just a political rally, with banners plastered on stage and paraphernalia given away, many of them donning the faces and names in bold letters of the politicians who supposedly helped make the celebration possible. There are times, too, when it is but an observance of something different… like the World AIDS Day, often followed by a street concert that attracts more heterosexuals than LGBTs. At those times, the supposed message of Pride is clouded.

This year’s Pride celebration was actually almost cancelled because of the mishandling of the preparations. The Quezon City Pride Council (QCPC), which became active this year with different efforts in the community, eyed to hold the supposed Pride for 2013. QCPC, by the way, depends on the local government unit of Quezon City.

With only 15 days left before the scheduled Pride March (on the first Saturday of December), QCPC announced through its Facebook page that the QC government is canceling all celebrations in the city, including the Pride March to andre-align its budget allocation and manpower to help the victims of Typhoon Yolanda.”

For me, there is nothing wrong with helping our brothers and sisters who were devastated by the killer typhoon; in fact, it’s very humane to “re-align the budget allocation’” to help them. But what’s really wrong in this picture is QCPC’s (and the QC government’s) overlooking of the importance of celebrating Pride.

What does Pride celebration really mean?

It’s supposed to be a celebration of what the community has achieved so far, a culmination of the efforts of the LGBT movement.

There are only few victories in one’s lifetime and I think it’s just right to – at times – just stand still, look at the big picture, and see how far we’ve gone. As has been noted, this year, there are more LGBTs in the politics, the anti-discrimination ordinance was approved in some cities, an anti-discrimination bill was filed again in Congress, and there are more unified and tangible efforts to fight HIV and AIDS.

These need to be highlighted.

The celebration doesn’t have to be extravagant. What the community needs is just a moment and a decent space to gather together and celebrate the victories it has achieved so far.

Many actually praised Quezon City when QCPC was formed, supposedly to help uplift the status of its LGBT members. But as QCPC just folded, we – from the LGBT community – should be asking if it has really done enough to be worthy of the praises.

Fortunately, the annual Pride celebration is still pushing through on December 7, this time, with the community itself coming together to make things happen.  And so the impossible became possible.

Pride is a time for us to take stock; but it’s also the start of a new beginning – until that time when our trans brothers and sisters are not judged according to social constructs that limit their gender identity and expression; until that time when you can introduce your significant other to your officemates as your husband or wife and not just as a “friend”; until that time when your sexual orientation is not going to be the basis of whether you will be promoted or not in your workplace; and until that time when you can honestly say to yourself “I’m proud of who I am.”

 

 

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

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LGBTs mark Transgender Day of Remembrance

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VERA Files and Yahoo Philippines | 20 November 2012

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Today, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community and their allies around the world will commemorate Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) in honor of people killed due to anti-transgender hatred and prejudice.

Here in the Philippines,  a photographic campaign, called “No different,” has been mounted by Bahaghari Center for LGBT Research, Education and Advocacy and Outrage Magazine to mark TDoR 2012.

The photographic campaign was joined by different transgender (TG) organizations in the country. The 30 participants seek to end transphobia (or the fear of or hostility towards transgenders) in the Philippines and to raise awareness that they are not different from other people.

Over 140 cases of transphobia-related crimes have been recorded since 1984, according to Pink Watch—an LGBT hate crime watch. Furthermore, there have been various cases of discrimination against LGBTs recorded by different nongovernment organizations ( Ex. Some LGBTs were discriminated during job applications,  some expelled from schools, and some prohibited from entering establishments in Makati restaurants and bars).

“Truly, it is easier to hate us when you don’t see us,” said Michael David Tan, Bahaghari Center executive director and Outrage Magazine editor.  “We continue to be cast as ‘others’, so that the discrimination we experience are given justification. This is, at least, the excuse of those who keep claiming that we want ‘special rights’, even if we’re only after equal rights.”

Transgender is a term that refers to people whose gender identification and expression don’t fit  what have been culturally associated with their assigned sex at birth. The TG community is composed of cross dressers, drag kings, drag queens, butches, femmes, genderqueer, intersex and transsexuals.

The observance of TDoR is intended to remind everyone that violence in the TG community is still happening and that the government should give enough attention to the problem.

TDoR was originally conceived in response to the murder of Rita Hester in Allston, Massachusetts on Nov. 28, 1998. Hester was an African-American transgender, who was brutally killed because of transphobia.

The annual commemoration was begun in 1998 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender graphic designer-columnist activist. From a web-based project,  TDoR has evolved into an international day of action, observed in more than 20 countries including the Philippines.

“This campaign helps promote the visibility of the transgender community in the Philippines and the issues that we face,” said Naomi Fontanos, founder of Gender and Development Advocates (GANDA) Filipinas. “Up to now, transgender people worldwide remain vulnerable to the most heinous forms of gender-based discrimination and hate violence. As TDoR shows, hundreds of transgender people are brutally murdered each year at a rate that has not been observed in other sectors of society.”

“This November 20, GANDA Filipinas takes the occasion of TDoR to call on governments of the world particularly those in the ASEAN to do more for and care more about their transgender citizens. Our lives have value and we, too, deserve dignity,” Fontanos added.

Nil Nodalo, vice chairman of TransMan Pilipinas, said:  “We want to stand up for transmen rights. We want the Filipinos to know that we exist. That we’re also human beings like them. They only know “girl, boy, bakla, tomboy” and I think it’s about time to let them know that transman is different from a lesbian or a butch lesbian. We identify ourselves as male but we are female assigned at birth, we undergo hormone replacement therapy and surgeries to match our gender identity.”

“We want to have equal rights in the TG community. We want to be heard though coming out in public is never easy and it never will be,” Nodalo said.

Until now, there is no law that protects the welfare of the LGBT community in the Philippines. Still pending is the Anti-Discrimination Bill that promises to end the discrimination and indifference the LGBTs are facing. Among other things,  it seeks to ban discrimination in the workplace, schools, government service and public access areas.

Commissioner Coco Quisumbing of the Commission on Human Rights said that one of the main reasons why the bill hasn’t moved forward is because some congressmen and senators, like Sen. Vicente Sotto, wanted to update the House version of the bill with the exclusion of the LGBT provisions.

 

 

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

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Manila Luzon, the Asian Glamasaurus

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Outrage Magazine | 8 November 2012

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Born Karl Westerberg in Minnesota, United States to an American father and a Filipino mother, this Filipino drag performer may be said to have triumphed in the world of performing on and off stage, and on and off camera. This is actually not that surprising, since – while she was growing up – it was always her dream to become an artist, to find a career where she can use her creativity; leading her to first become a graphic designer for a design firm in New York.

But while “being a graphic designer seemed like a fun job and I enjoyed doing it… it’s an office-based job, and you have clients who will approve your artistry; it’s not your own creative artistry all the time,” she said.

When she found her drag persona, it paved (and still does) the way for her to express her creativity and her passion for artistry in a different form. And then she made a name when she placed second in the third season of American reality TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Meet Manila Luzon.

CELEBRATING FILIPINO

In an exclusive interview by Outrage Magazine, Manila said she wanted to celebrate her Filipino heritage, to bring her Asian-ness to her drag persona, thus her name “Manila Luzon”, which pays homage to where her mother was born (Manila), and Luzon the island where the city of Manila is on in the Philippines.

“Some critics say that my name is ridiculous, but others like it. I love my name, and I think it suits me very well,” Manila stressed.

Dubbed as the Asian Glamasaurus in the world of drag in New York, she is a self-confessed party girl, using different influences from the ‘80s, ‘90s and the naughties (2000s) – though she’d like to think she takes it to another level, the Manila Luzon way.

The “Manila Luzon way” means recreation – e.g. she once performed wearing one of her creations, a kimono made of Ramen noodle wrappers.

And what makes Manila Luzon different from other drag queens? “I am just me all the time… not many other people can honestly say that. Other queens just ain’t me!”

Manila was chosen to join the All Stars season of RuPaul’s Drag Race for a second time. She partnered with Latrice Royale during the competition, but they were eliminated after three episodes.

FINDING A VOICE

And how did Manila’s career start?

“I’ve always looked for excuses to get dressed up in costumes. Then one day I discovered that my sister’s clothes looked pretty cute on me. When I finally came out of the closet, I decided I was going to go ALL OUT and be the gayest I can be. That’s when Manila was finally born.”

Manila’s inspirations include: Madonna, Kylie Minogue and Barbra Streisand.

“I’m known for my outrageous lip sync to Donna Summer’s ‘MacArthur’s Park’ from Season 3 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. But I really love performing my original songs, ‘Hot Couture’ and ‘Best XXXcessory’ because I created them myself from scratch. It’s nice to create something and then show it to people.”

The two are Manila’s already released singles: “Best XXXcessory” (2012) and “Hot Couture” (2011).

Manila credits RuPaul for shared life lessons – “I love how Ru says that whatever other people think of me, is none of my business. As a drag queen, I love the spotlight, but being out there you can attract a lot of negative feedback from complete strangers. It can really get to you. But I’ve learned that if I am to be the best Manila I can be, I don’t have to listen to all the bad stuff,” she said.

Asked how her life changed after joining RuPaul’s Drag Race, Manila said: “I’ve been given a social responsibility now since I’ve been on TV. I try to live my life in my truest form, and I have the audience to set an example in our community.”

CHANGE WILL HAPPEN

Asked what she’d do if she was President of the Philippines, Manila – true to form – said: “First thing I would change is the preservation of Imelda’s shoe collection. Then I would start my own!”

Then, turning serious when asked for her stand on the fight for equal rights of the LGBT community, she said: “Oddly, I know deep down that right will conquer. It may not be now, but it will happen; and I am excited to witness it take place in history.”

Manila is eyeing visiting the Philippines “hopefully soon”. For now, though, she has “lots of fun projects on the way, you’ll have to wait and see.”

And for the Filipino LGBT community, she said: “Keep fighting. Love will always win over hate.”

Like Manila Luzon in Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/manilaluzonfanpage, or follow her on Twitter via http://twitter.com/manilaluzon.

 

 

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

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