Friday, April 29, 2011

EQUALITY for the LGBT Community...Divine Lee's battle cry

To all the becky and butch out there, here's an inspiring read for you :)

EQUALITY   

BATTLE CRY
 Let's hear it from the Becky Queen...Divine Lee

I'm reposting this blog for my love for the most fabulous becky I've known (No, hindi po kami close but i know it is so easy to love her because she is so natural and true ang baklang-bakla to the highest level.  I also have gay and lesbian friends and I want to share this with them to inspire them and to make them feel happy knowing that someone so sosyal, someone who is an epitome of class and beauty, is willing to do anything (even asked her cutipie boyfriend dressed like a girl for a photo shoot) to join her in this advocacy that calls for equality for the LBGT (Lesbians, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender) community.

It’s a long read but I assure you that it is worth your time. If you care for your LGBT friends, go read, share and spread Divine’s battle cry. I just did :)

Her words moved me, here’s a preview:

"Labels can be empowering or demeaning. I think labeling yourself matters in instances when you want to let people understand the version of humanity that God has given you. "When I genuinely and deeply interact with other people, I realize that what really matters is the quality of our relationships with people and not the labels of those people we are interacting with. Hence, I realized that the only label that should matter is HUMAN."

"Being a lesbian doesn’t make you less of a woman and being a gay man doesnít make you less of a man. I don’t think we need people to be classified as first, second or third sexes.  What we need is for ALL kinds of humans to be afforded the same right to life, dignity, liberty, and pursuit of happiness." -- AMEN to these

"I want my lesbian, gay, bisexual, and  transgender friends to experience the same freedom from fear of discrimination and violence and the same  social acceptance..because we all deserve to live in dignity and happiness."

"By giving people the chance to excel, it reap results that can be beneficial to all. People in their respective fields should be assessed on their merits and results, and not based on sexuality, preference or what is in between their legs."

Ready na kayo? GAME!

2BU: EQUALITY PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER APRIL 29, 2011 (FRIDAY)
Photography: Frank Hoefsmit
Styling and writing: Carlos Concepcion (www.kingdomofthec.blogspot.com)
Makeup: Joyce Platon (Makeup forever)
Hair: Eddie mar Cabiltes (Loreal)








In any issue the biggest crime is silence. It shows either a lack of interest or a fear to stand up for what you believe in. The topic of homosexuality is an issue wildely debated or avoided just like religion. A topic so sensitive that most choose to ignore its existence. But would it not be better, even if you disagree to voice it out? Would it not be better to speak? In order that any reservations or points made can be dissected and that we may all be educated.

What really is homosexuality? In general we know it is the attraction of the same sex of the same species. But as I have discovered myself, working in an industry dominated bythese fantastic individuals, there is so much more than the label placed upon them. And you cannot box them in that one category because each is an indvidual with their own personal traits just like everybody else. Most people associate homosexuality with the flamboyant loud gay males or the tough butch females. And while yes they are part of the community, they do not compromise the group in its entireity. These perceptions have to be broken in order for everybody to fully understand that they are individuals. Some are colorful and loud, while others are quiet. Really at the end of the day, they are just people too.

What is most alarming in this day and age, when information is so readily available at the click of a mouse, is there are people out there who still choose to be ignorant. 

Therefore resulting in such a large misunderstanding. The suicidal rate among the young homosexual community has been growing in recent years and before it gets any worse it is a time for all of us to take a stand. It has gotten so bad that there are reports of even young boys who are simply effeminate, ending their lives because of the endless teasing they receive.This is the result of ignorance. This is the result of society as a whole putting the homosexual community in a box. You act like a girl, oh well then you must be gay. 

Well today, we make a change. Today, I stand up and say enough is enough. I myself throughout my life have been plagued by gossip so I know how it feels. A male stylist/ designer is someone certainly worth questioning to other people. I did this article because I feel like the media has to take the next step into really representing the homosexual community as a whole.

Everybody needs to be educated so we can start saving lives. Who knows, one day it may be your child, or mine.

Divine Lee and Victor Basa are the perfect couple to talk about this cause. Divine, heralded as the “gay icon” of the Philippines, on the surface it is evident why. Beautiful in that strong or dare I say “fierce” way that so appeals to the gay communinity, limitless sparkly dresses, sky high heels and hair plus a perfect grasp of the gay linggo. While Victor, the perfect heartthrob actor who is probably fantasized many times over yet also questioned about his sexuality, as all young actors are. So then it interested me, behind all the illusions, all the sparkle or gossip, what do these two really feel about the issue? Stripped and bared from the mystery, I sit down with the two and discuss the situation honestly. It takes brave souls to speak openly about a topic that can easily spark anger and controversy. Agree, disagree,  as long as what we have said arises emotion in you, then we have all done our job. And maybe tomorrow, you my dear reader will take a stand and speak up.

1.) Do you think in this day and age it is still important to place a label upon ourselves? (Gay, straight, bi etc.) Why or why not?

D: Male, female, gay, straight, bi, transgender, your nationality, religion, age, race, and occupation are all labels. Labels by themselves are harmless, it is what we do with them and how we use them that matters. We must be careful and responsible enough to know what the labels mean. Labels can be empowering or demeaning. I think labelling yourself matters in instances when you want to let people understand the version of humanity that God has given you. Diversity is one of the characteristics of humanity. We are all different from each other and the varied labels we have highlight those differences.  I think we should use labels as our bridge between ignorance and understanding. We must be careful not to substitute the label for the person for doing so is to substitute words for worth.  When I genuinely and deeply interact with other people, I realize that what really matters is the quality of our relationships with people and not the labels of those people we are interacting with. Hence, I realized that the only label that should matter is HUMAN.  

V: Sure, this may be stated or adhered to for clarification purposes to lessen confusion.  Most I think is case to case, but I also believe that the more we specify and button down things the less we unriddle and the more myopic our microgenres or classifications become, which in turn alienate people who don’t understand the topic even further. 

2.) What do you love most about the LGBT community?

D:What I like about the LGBT community is their courage.  The LGBT community has suffered so much discrimination and violence because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.  They have suffered family rejection, bullying in schools, and employment discrimination among other things. Yet they remain beautiful, fabulous, and wonderful despite all of this. They have shown me nothing but laughter and joy. They are a living testament of the strength of the human spirit. 

3.) What is the biggest misconception about the homosexual community? 

D:That they are too carefree. Gay people are just very expressive of their happiness but we should not translate this as being too unbothered without a care for the world. Most of the gay people I know are breadwinners (taking care of their whole family), sensitive (my gay friends are always the first to call and console even without you asking for company or advice), responsible (I know a gay guy who brings and picks up his siblings to school everyday, and goes back every lunch to cook for a sick mom while working a 9-5 job), and most caring (letting go of a career dream to be able to take care of a sick parent.)

The LGBT community is actually my biggest inspiration to a more positive and happy outlook in life.

4.) There is still a large debate about homosexuality being considered a third sex or simply a condition- please share your thoughts on this.

D: I think this is a conceptual error. Homosexuality, just like heterosexuality and bisexuality, is not a gender but a sexual orientation and an innate aspect of being human. Being a lesbian woman is one of the myriad ways of being female and being a gay man is one of the varied ways of being male. Being a lesbian doesnít make you less of a woman and being a gay man doesnít make you less of a man. I donít think we need people to be classified as first, second or third sexes.  What we need is for ALL kinds of humans to be afforded the same right to life, dignity, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

V:A condition? I wouldn’t be too sure about that because don’t some children show signs early on? And from the word itself, it’s not about being a gender either. Its about the sexual orientation and not if the subject is male or female

5.) The suicide rate in the homosexual community (especially among teens) has been growing -What message can you send to these young individuals to tell them its alright? 

D: Lady Gaga said it perfectly :”I’m beautiful in my way, because God makes no mistakes. I’m on the right track baby I was born this way. Don’t hide yourself in regret, just love yourself and you’re set”
We all have the power to transform this negative energy. What’s important for these kids to remember are not the words that people throw at us but what we know when we see ourselves in the mirror. In the end, there is still more love than hate in this world, and that is worth living for. 

V: Life is too precious to let it go to waste. Think of all the people who care for you and the plethora of unlived experiences that will enrich your life. Think of your family, your friends, and hold on to your faith.

6.) What role can the straight community take to help in the acceptance of all these different individuals? 

D:As a straight and non-transgender woman I know that I wouldnít suffer violence and discrimination because of my sexual orientation. I can experience the peace of being in a consensual, healthy, loving, and caring relationship with a man, dress as I wish, or strive for success in my chosen field because there will be no people telling me that being me is wrong. I want my lesbian, gay, bisexual, and  transgender friends to experience the same freedom from fear of discrimination and violence and the same  social acceptance. Because we all deserve to live in dignity and happiness. You donít need to be in the LGBT in order to know that the discrimination and violence they are experiencing is wrong. You just have to be a human with a sane mind, lucid heart, and compassionate soul in order to know that this is wrong. 

We often use a lot of reasons as an excuse for us to exercise our prejudice, bigotry, and ignorance. So perhaps we should ask ourselves these things are really making us closer to God.  I believe that God is a God of love, compassion, and justice. Not of hate, exclusion, and injustice. 

V:To help individuals, one must think like an individual.  Question your own intentions, acting on morals rather than justification, peer pressure, or personal grudges.  Education and information goes a long way, which should start in your immediate circle.  Intolerance and bigotry runs rampant if ignorance is left alone.

7.) How does the Philippines compare to the rest of the world in accepting the homosexual community?

D: It all depends. In the circles I move in, no doubt that love, respect and acceptance are a given- we treat everyone with an open mind and open heart whatever preference or sexual orientation. I have heard stories of LGBT community experiencing violence from their family, being discriminated in schools, and some are being rejected or fired by companies because of who they are.I have also witnessed how people ridicule them in the streets and on television. But I think it is evident everywhere ,even in countries that have anti-discrimination and hate crime laws. I think the biggest difference is that we don’t have explicit laws that address the discrimination and violence being experienced by LGBT pinoys. Hopefully, more information will help in establishing proper laws against discrimination. Hence, that’s why WE are doing this article. I believe that Pinoys are loving and understanding. We just need to voice it out and remind everyone that we are all God’s children. 

V:At the very least, the Philippines doesn’t persecute homosexuals like a number of other countries. But neither do we have written laws that prevent discrimination against them. There’s certainly room for huge improvements. It would be possible to be put into action depending on whom you vote for, because your politicians make the laws and if you do not vote, it would be foolhardy to think that there can be a lasting solution to this relentless topic

8.) What is the state of equality in your respective work forces? (Div from an office standpoint ) 

D:Women’s rights have come far and we are able to hold ground to this day and age. Thankfully, because of people who fought hard and are continuously fighting for womens rights. Also because through time women have already proven success in different fields. This is a fact that no one can deny. And that’s what I want people to see. By giving people the chance to excel, it reap results that can be beneficial to all. People in their respective fields should be assessed on their merits and results, and not based on sexuality, preference or what is in between their legs. 

As for LGBT rights in my workplace, we have guidelines against discrimination and that includes both straight or LBGT. And we are used to practicing equality in our work environment. 

9.) Divine, why do you think (gay men in particular) are so attracted to you? And Vic, how do you feel that your girlfriend is considered a gay icon? 

D:I am honestly still wondering when this started and who started it, but regardless i am very, very flattered. Being an icon gives me the opportunity and venue to help others, communicate information and inspire people. And I am very very grateful. I don’t think this is for me to answer, I can assume so many different things but I would love to hear the reason behind it too so 

I decided to call a few friends to answer the question for me. 

Elmer Lapena (Director)- You are our Gay Icon because you are the epitome of every gay guy’s fantasy, you’re fun, liberated, successful and true to yourself. But most of all, it is because you do not discriminate. You accept each individual for who they are. And you make every person comfortable regardless of their sexual orientation and preference.Acceptance (by others) is something that gays continously strive for. And you give it without a question. AND…. baklang bakla ang taste mo. Clothes, shoes, bags, friends, language, boyfriend, hairstyle, name it!

Veejay Floresca (Designer)- You’re a gay icon because you have important qualities a gay would dream of.. Physical attributes, attitude, body, and success from hard work. But more than all the eyes can see, gays love you because you have a genuine heart. You are one of the best persons I have met. You don’t discriminate. 

Rajo Laurel (Designer): Just your name itself is so gay already! DIVINE LEE! LOL! You are gorgeous with a killer body and killer fashion sense. You are a walking, living, breathing gay dream.. But above all that, you have a beautiful soul- genuine, caring and thoughtful. Exactly what a gay icon should be-that’s why you have my vote a Queen of Vahs!

Martin Bautista (Designer): Divine is a gay icon because she embodies what every gay men fantasizes to be yet she herself embodies embodies the characteristic of a real Gay- colorful personality, drag, all out, witty, smart outspoken and brave enough to fight for people and voice her opinions.

Dennis Torrepalma (Operations Manager-SAGA EVENTS): You live, breathe, talk all things gay. You are one of us. You always make our dreams/wishes come true. We can relate to you. 

Nix Alanon (Interior Designer): Some people were raised by wolves, and some, well by gay men. Enter Divine Lee. Underneath that flash is a true friend that will always be there no matter what, through the good and the bad!

V:I think it’s great to become a positive influence on people is a responsibility as much as it is a privilege.  Divine is one of the most genuine persons I know, and she has always felt a need to help others.  It doesn’t matter to her whether they are gay, straight or bi.
______________________________________________________________________________________

So there you go guys. A sneak peak of my brain but mostly my heart. I may be talking about my becklings here but honestly, this applies to anybody who has experienced inequality in any way or form. If you believe in my BATTLE CRY. LET’S HEAR IT!

Repost, Reblog, Fb link, tweet it and more. Maybe in doing so you can open someone’s eyes to a more positive world. WORLD PEACE NGA DAW!

Before i end my post, there is one person I want to thank. 



SASS ROGANDOI SASOT. You are beautiful. I got your photos when you are most carefree. Idol kita girl! You taught me a lot and helped me with this article. You helped me understand kasi kahit gaano ako kabecky or feelingerang becky- babae pa din daw ako. Marami akong hindi nadadanas. Thank you for the enlightenment. 

Sass is Communication Officer in Asia at International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans & Intersex Association (ILGA). Bilib ako dito. I’ve known her since highschool and i know the hardships she’s been thru pero kareer. Never ko sya nakita sumimangot. Kahit anong hirap ng buhay. WORRIED ATA SA WRINKLES SI SASS! I love you baby! Ang mukha kukulubot, pero ang puso mo pabongga ng pabongga!

And again Carlos, thank you. From me and buong kabeckihan.

Much love,
D


-- If you want a bonus story, about how Divine convinced her boyfriend Victor posed for the photo shoot, more insights and convictions for the LGBT plus lots of funny ka-beckihan read her tumblr here.

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