You can’t deny the strength in numbers—strength necessary for a war that’s surprisingly still fought today. When Philippine church and state think homosexuality can be suppressed and many Filipinos consider it a joke, it helps to present a reality that’s clear, vivid, and as solid as the number 100.
The B/PROUD campaign was born from this need to overpower narrow-mindedness and empower the fearful and restrained. B/BLOG gathered 100 LGBT folk across Manila’s ambitious new crop of establishments to show queer society out, about, and standing dignified with a rising city.
The campaign’s first venue, EDSA Beverage Design Group, aims to move Filipino craft drinks forward as purposefully as the expressway it stands on. The same can be said about the following 37 individuals and their stance on identity and equality. By capturing the various faces of gay, we’re showing a people loving, living, and building our nation’s tomorrow just like everyone else.
Throughout the first two weeks of Pride Month, we will unveil these personalities being bold, being free, and being proud. Consider this proof that with much pride in being absolutely yourself comes much joy.
Support the campaign and tell us what being gay means to you today. Our hashtag: #100HappyGays.
Jigs Mayuga & George Defiesta, Jr.
36, Make-up Artist // 33, Training Manager for a Consulting Company
George: “Being gay has changed a lot. It’s more tolerated now. People have a broader understanding of what gay is now. They have deviated from the usual misconceptions and stereotypes so I think we’ve come a long way in terms of our evolution in society.”
Jigs: “When I was in UP, I was a big activist when it came to gay and lesbian rights. It was the ’90s and there wasn’t much gay visibility then. Today, it’s not as political. Well, being openly gay is political itself. It’s just not as militant as before. It’s just showing people that this is how I am being gay and there are many facets to it. Now it’s more than being just an advocacy. I think being gay now is living my life as myself. ”
Franz Mayo, Jappy Posadas, Matthew Chan, Deric Dario, and Karlo Hernandez
21, Student at CSB // 22, Fresh Graduate // 21, Fresh Graduate // 21, Student at CSB // 22, Student at PSI
Deric: “Being gay today is having more confidence. You believe in yourself more. You don’t limit yourself from anything. You don’t hold back.”
Jappy: “Coming out of the closet is not easy. It’s not a walk in the park. It’s not just saying, “Hey, I’m gay.” It’s a transition; it’s a big change in life. How you deal with people, how you relate to people. It’s opening yourself to the possibilities because the possibilities when you’re straight are so much different from the possibilities when you’re gay. Coming out of the closet is very much liberating in a sense that you are very much free but of course there are certain changes that you have to adapt to.”
Matthew: “I think we’re heading to that point where it doesn’t matter anymore because people are so gender-fluid now. There’s no particular word that can define you anymore because there’s so many types of sexuality: metrosexual, sapiosexual, etc. It’s just another term that’s just gonna be a distant memory. Everything is opening up, all the opportunities.”
Jose Mendoza, Gille Apilado, Gelo Echon, Rica Salomon, Enzo Tuason, and Tina Micu
21, 21, 21, 22, 20, 22 // Members of Ateneo de Manila University’s DOLLHOUSE
The Dollhouse: “Gay today is confidence in owning your sexuality. I know there’s still oppression in several parts of the world but I think the society in general or the world in general is more open about it. Not necessarily open to what being gay is but they know that it exists and it’s not going anywhere. But even if there’s still oppression in different parts of the world, there’s a strong opposition to the oppression. So you know you have your detractors and you have your haters but you also have your freedom fighters. Some are actually putting up a fight that being gay or the idea of being gay is not even a moral issue to begin with. And I think that that in itself gives us, the gays of today, confidence and comfort in our sexuality.”
Marga Meily Bermudez
24, Club & Events Emcee
Marga: “Gay is evolving and is slowly being accepted by society. Which is something we have all been waiting for for the longest time. I hope this campaign will help push that even more.”
37, Commissioner-at-Large at the National Youth Commission
Perci: “While some people would say that gay people are accepted now, I strongly disagree. The fight for equality still has a long way to go. I would characterize the situation as more of tolerance. I hope that there will come a time, maybe not today but in the very near future, that acceptance and equality with be the norm rather than the exception. As long as people still don’t feel comfortable having a gay mayor, a gay senator, a gay congressman, and as long as parents would rather have their children straight rather than gay, there’s still a long way to go. Being gay today is still a constant struggle for acceptance, for equality, for equal rights. I just hope that the advent of technology, where people are more aggressive in putting their content out there, will be able to use that platform to promote the message of equality and respect for gay persons. Diversity is as real as the more tactile things in society.”
Creative Director at Metro Magazine
Patrick: “It’s one of the decisions you make when you’re growing up. And It’s a big decision that entails a lot more decisions that affect the direction of your life. I like the idea of being able to choose. I mean it goes for any other person but in this case particularly, the most important point is the celebration of your choice.”
40, Senior Features Editor at Esquire Philippines
Jerome: “Gay for me is a party. It’s a celebration of who you are no matter who you are, what you love, and who you love. I just think that it’s like a party, Woodstock or a Pinoy fiesta, or Coachella maybe. Embracing who you are. That’s it.”
Eldzs Mejia & Fold Canela
24, Fashion Editor at Metro Magazine // 26, Videographer & Lecturer at SoFA
Eldzs: “When I was a kid, I thought being gay was wrong. Eventually I saw many creative achievers who were gay and that inspired me to be out. This generation of gay people is very lucky to have more sources of inspiration.”
Fold: “It’s being proud of what you can bring to the table. It’s a celebration of who you are, what you can do, and what you can show the world in your own way.”
Physical Therapist & President of Take the Test Campaign, Inc.
Ryan: “Gay today is to be free, responsible, and an empowered individual. These people are responsible enough to be safe, to know their status, and empowered enough to make responsible choices.”
34, Poet & Advocate of HIV Awareness & Prevention
Wanggo: “Well, right now it’s very polarizing. Because now, you either have to accept it or totally don’t. You have countries in Eastern Europe, Asia, and the Middle East where people can die just for being a homosexual. And then there are states in the US and countries that are allowing gay marriage and saying that’s it’s perfectly alright to be gay. These are things that I never thought would be happening in my lifetime. The difference in my situation is that I’ve never had a problem with it. My parents have always known. I had a brother who came out before me. My whole family knew, my friends knew, the people in work knew. I’ve never had to hide. And I never had to be afraid. And I’ve never experienced discrimination or stigma. But it’s not that way for the whole world.
It’s a very exciting time to be gay. Because now if you fight for it, if you stand for who you are, you choose to want people to accept you for who you are. You’ll have people to come to your defense. It’s a big step forward. We’re at a turning point. There’s no denying that it’s out there and people have to make a decision about it.”
Koji Arsua & Nikko Panti
Writer at Philippine Star’s Supreme & Art Publicist // Writer & Segment Producer
Koji: “It’s not about your sexual orientation. It’s about being who you are.”
Nikko: “We’re everywhere, in different fields and industries. It’s more accepted now than before. Because of that, I’m happier to be gay.”
26, Freelance Theater Actor, Dancer, and Art Director
Gio: “Being gay is about breaking a structure. It’s really openness to different kinds of possibilities and opportunities. We, a lot of gays, lesbians, homosexuals, we venture into different fields. I mean what you’re doing now, you’re featuring a 100 gay people and they’re all from different industries, keeping themselves busy, their interests varied. It’s not just freedom na I’m free to do whatever I want. It’s freedom with direction. You can dabble in creative work, be a businesswoman, businessman, business…gay (laughs). I’m sure there’s still discrimination but at the end of the day, if you’re gay and you’re doing it your way, then that in itself is already outstanding.”
Robbie Piñera & James Burn
35, Make-Up Artist // 21, Chef
Robbie: “It’s an exciting time to be gay. More so for the next generation.”
James: “Gays will conquer the world someday.”
Performance Artist & Fire Dancer
Daniel: “I think that there is a division between how Filipinos are taught to see gay and feel about being gay. Gay today in Manila is a bit confused between its head and its heart. What I’m really interested in is the heart that seems to be really open not only to what it means to be gay but what it means to love who you love. What I use is the word queer. It doesn’t really matter what’s attached to the body or what’s between the legs. What you fall in love with is the person. And what I think is that Filipinos in a very deep and intuitive level understand that wholeheartedly. It’s just that we get caught up in our belief system, which I think is a little bit behind.”
Don Jaucian & Paulo Edrosolano
26, Assistant Editor at Rogue Magazine // 32, Senior Research Director for a Market Intelligence Firm
Don: “Pop culture-wise, there’s been a shift in the depiction of gay men. There are films like Zombadings that hinge to the stereotype but at the same time talk about the whole situation. And then yung TV shows like Looking where being gay is not central to the whole show but manage to show the lifestyle more broadly. I also think gay men don’t want to be labeled solely as gay. They want to be associated with the work that they do, the lifestyle that they have. May stigma ‘pag sinabing “ay bakla yan.” But I think a lot of gay men right now are pushing that stereotype away, fighting the perception that being gay defines you as a person. There’s really so much more than that.”
Paulo: “A lot of the cultural concepts that we associate with gay have already changed in the span of what, a decade? In the Philippines, siguro ’til the late ’90s, you’d still hear the word “silahis.” Now, you won’t hear it at all unless it’s an older person talking. Although there are some people, especially in the fringes of the country, that aren’t affected by this because of their cultural isolation. I think that also has an effect on human rights. People in the metro are more tolerant, but if you’re in the provinces, people still have the stereotypes and gay people still have to put up with their consequences.”
25, Brand Manager at Rajo Laurel
Martin: “Gay today is everything. Gay today is a totes must.”
Alex Castro & Camille Legaspi
23, Law Student at UP Diliman // 25, Agency Communication Specialist for PrulifeUK
Alex: “In the context of the LGBT movement, I do recognize, for example, there are a lot of improvements that we need. But I don’t think that “gay” or “LGBT” should matter. I think in the long run that there shouldn’t even be a word for it anymore. Like right now, people say, “Ah she’s a girl, he’s a guy. And the rest are gay people,” but if you’re aiming for true equality in our society, the goal should be to abolish the labels, the divisions, the divisiveness of what we have now.”
Camille: “To put it simply, it’s as normal as breathing. It shouldn’t be hyped up the way it is now. Para kasi siyang trend, especially sa TV shows, na nagkakaroon ng “Pogay” and “That’s my Tomboy,” although I think it’s okay ’cause mas nae-encourage mag-out yung tao. Kasi feeling nila mas tanggap sila.”
Martin Castañeda, Adrianne Concepcion, and Nyko Rodriguez
27, Public Relations Maven // Fashion Editor at Garage Magazine // 25, Public Relations Maven
Adrianne: “Gay today is #DontFuckWithUs.”
Nyko: “Gay today is being the best in everything you do.”
Martin: “Gay today is love.”
32, Slasher – Host, Blogger, Fierce Advocate of Gay Rights, and “Mother”
Divine: “Having gay friends has always been about love. Even at my lowest point, they have always been there for me. Love is sacrifice, too, right? Now, I’m happy to know that many of them sacrifice less. But honestly, these things that they’re fighting for and that we’re fighting for for them should be freely given. And yet they still come off as the happiest people I know. They’re being deprived of human rights yet they still have it in their heart na ‘Tulungan ko muna si ate kasi may problema.’ I feel like they were so overflowing with love that society had no choice but to accept that love.”