Top LGBT Supporters That Inspire Us

Advocacy

June 28, 2018 | BY Philippine Tatler

In celebration of #PrideMonth, we round-up some of the inspiring advocates for the LGBT community in the Philippines. Browse through below to find out who are the personalities that continue to fight for equal rights and respect for our fellow countrymen and women:

Awarded as the sixth Filipino Ashoka Fellow
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Laurindo Garcia 

Founder of B-Change and Ashoka Fellow

"Laurindo Garcia founded the B-Change Group in 2011 motivated by a wish to support the well-being of diverse communities, and use to alternative models and methodologies in order to enable this work to be sustained in the long-term. He is an accomplished community advocate and communications specialist based in the Philippines and openly living with HIV for over 10 years. He serves on the board of B-Change's units in Manila, New York and Singapore and leads the Group by carrying executive duties." 

Through his confidence and accomplishments, Garcia is an advocate through and by example. A staunch supporter for the LGBT and inspiring personality, he continues to be vocal about his beliefs and programmes for change. 

See More: Ashoka selects sixth Filipino Fellow

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Top LGBT Supporters That Inspire Us
Photo: Geraldine Roman Facebook
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Geraldine Roman 

Transgender Congresswoman Advocating for LGBT Rights in Congress

As the first transgender congresswoman in the Philippines, Roman has already broken many a glass ceiling. Elected as the Representative of the 1st District of Bataan following the 2016 Philippine elections, further on becoming part of congress. Roman attended Ateneo de Manila University in her formative years, and enrolling in the University of the Phillipines as a college student. She managed to secure a scholarship to pursue journalism at the University of the Basque Country in Spain and attained two master's degrees. She worked in Spain as a senior editor for the Spanish News Agency before returning to the Philippines. A force as strong as her continued political projects, Roman serves as an icon to many. 

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Ronivin Pagtakhan

Founder of Love Yourself Foundation

Lauded for his prolifc work and involvement in HIV screening and development of clinics around the country, Ronivin received the much-deserved TOYM award last year. He founded LoveYourself (LY), an organisation that advocates for the LGTBQ community, promotes sex education, and aims to counter the spread of and impact HIV has had on the country. LY is now powered by over 700 volunteers and over 30,000 online supporters. Annually, the foundation tests 20,000 individuals through its two community centres, which are responsible for at least 50 per cent of all reported cases of HIV in Metro Manila and 20 per cent nationwide. More centres are poised to open in the near future, all of which will pilot the use of new medicines and care facilities. The LoveYourself clinics plan to roll out a project called #CondimentStation, to increase condom accessibility for Filipinos. LY will also up its presence in academia, educating students on sexual health.

His legacy: Loving your selves. “I want LY to be a safe haven for Filipinos. I want it to be the go-to community centre where the youth and the LGBT-MSM community can feel safe.”

See More: Inaugural Love Gala

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Top LGBT Supporters That Inspire Us
At the inaugural Love Gala | December 2017
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Pia Wurtzbach 

UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador

More prominently known as Miss Universe 2015, Pia Wurtzbach continues to proves that she is more than just a pretty face. An empowered woman in every right, she carefully uses her platform to vocally support change and progress for the LGBT community, particularly addressing the pressing stigma agaisnt HIV/ AIDS. Recently declared as a UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador for Asia and the Pacific, Wurtzbach continues to shine by example for young Filipinos.  

Read More: Pia Wurtzbach on the Cover of Philippine Tatler 

Bemz Benedito and J. Neil Garcia | Photo: from enjoyingwonderfulworld.blogspot.com
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J Neil Garcia

Academician and author of numerous LGBT scholarship

Known primarily as a writer annd scholar, Garcia has written numerous works that examine the gay condition and atmosphere in Philippine Society. One of the minds behind the famed Ladlad series, which features stories form the LGBT community, Garcia paved the way to open conversation and acceptance. He is currently a Professor of English, creative writing and comparative literature at the College of Arts and Letters, University of the Philippines Diliman, where he also serves as an Associate for Poetry at the Likhaan: U.P. Institute of Creative Writing. Some of his pivotal works include: Philippine Gay Culture: The Last Thirty Years (1996) and Slip/pages: Essays in Philippine Gay Criticism (1998), where he discusses in detail the sociocultural ramifications of the queer experience in the Philippine landscape. 

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Top LGBT Supporters That Inspire Us
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Bemz Benedito

Chairperson of Ang Ladlad Partylist

A beacon of transgender light and an LGBTQ rights advocate, Bemz can proudly say she was Chairperson of the LGBTQ political party in the Philippines, Ang Ladlad. In 2016 she received the Global Transgender Heroes award for challenging the LGBTQ status quo and gender stereotypes. The award was conferred by the True Colours Fund, a New York-based LGBTQ organisation co-founded by international pop star Cyndi Lauper in celebration of International Women’s Day. The bubbly Bemz shares: “I’ve always looked up to Dr. Boy Abunda and Senator Loren Legarda. Working with and for them gave me the inspiration, passion and dedication that is indispensable to my advocacies. Dr. Abunda always taught me the value of compassion and honesty, while Senator Legarda showed me malleability and endurance in pushing one’s advocacy. However, I must give credit to my beloved parents for their love, care and support and that which all made me the best that I am today.”

Life advice: “We must keep fghting for equal rights and acceptance and keep building mother-loving communities. We owe it to the next generation so that being LGBTQ will be more dignifed.”
 

Tootsy and Sonny Angara at the 2017 Tatler Ball
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Sonny Angara

Senate, Author of Anti-Discrimination Senate Bill No. 948

As the author of the Anti-Discrimination Bill No. 948, Angara opened up the conversation for equal treatment regardless of age, racial or ethnic origin, religious belief or activity, political inclination or conviction, social class, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expressions, marital or relationship status, disability, HIV status, health status or medical history, language, physical features, or other status. Meant to be a comprehensive and penalizing bill, Angara hopes that this is a step forward for the Filipino people, as a whole. 

"As the country celebrates Pride Month, we are joining the call to fight for equality and to end all forms of discrimination. We must protect every citizen against discriminatory acts in order to promote equal protection, equal opportunity, and to eliminate stereotypes and prejudices," Angara said of the bill. Truly an inspiring force, the Senator continues to strive towards fairness and tantamount respect for every citizen. 

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Top LGBT Supporters That Inspire Us
At the inaugural Love Gala | December 2017
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Risa Hontiveros

Senate, Author of SOGIE Bill

The SOGIE Bill, which stands for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression Bill, promotes rightful treatment for members of the LGBT community. Recognising the cultural disparity that is oftentimes at play in many levels of Philippine society, the bill has been a figural, cultural, and politcal step forward for the community. Pride Month platforms continue to support it with the hopes that it will be passed sooner rather than later (if at all). A champion of many causes, Hontiveros makes it to our list for her continued bravery and inspiring advocacy.