7 ways to show support for the LGBTQ community

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Because discourse can only do so much and because actions speak louder than words, here’s a quick list of LGBTQ-inclusive and supportive acts that are more likely to have a positive and palpable impact. Illustration by FIEL ESTRELLA

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — American Apparel recently received some flak for releasing tote bags that feature the term “ally” — specifically, implying that this word is the A in LGBTQIA, which of course stands for “asexual.” There was, understandably, an uproar from people over the ignorant oversight, which is part of the controversial brand’s “Pride ‘16 Collection,” a partnership with the Human Rights Campaign and The Ally Coalition. There’s enough erasure committed against the community as it is, and to have it done in relation to a project that aims to express support hurts more than it helps.

It’s great that people can come together and show solidarity, empathy, and acceptance, because even with all the progress that has been made, there’s still a lot more to be done in terms of discrimination, prejudice, and, yes, hate — covering both the words and actions that surround them. And while it certainly helps to get the conversation and education going on social media and in real life about pressing LGBTQ issues, it’s a fact that discourse can only do so much, and it’s time to take action in ways that have real, lasting effects for the betterment of the community.

American Apparel American Apparel recently received some flak for releasing tote bags that feature the term “ally” — specifically, implying that this word is the A in LGBTQIA, which of course stands for “asexual.”  

Anything done in support of the LGBTQ community has two major goals at its center: to show that their identity is valid and let them know they matter, and to fight for their rights, equality, and safety as human beings. And as with anything worth doing, it helps to start small and work your way up. Here’s a quick list of LGBTQ-inclusive and supportive acts that are more likely to have a positive and palpable impact. 

  1. Learn the terms and pronouns.
    This is the first major step to showing people who identify as LGBTQ that you accept who they are and believe that their identification is real and part of being human. There are many helpful sites online that show the proper terms to refer to members of the LGBTQ community, because there’s more to them than the standard Filipino “bakla” and “tomboy.” In the same way, it is important for people to respect them and refer to them using the pronouns that they choose for themselves. 
  2. Stop using using “gay,” “bakla,” “tibo,” and other related terms as insults or negative expressions, and making jokes or asking insensitive questions.
    We all know that there’s nothing wrong with being queer, so why should any term that falls under this umbrella carry any negative connotation? It’s also not helping anyone when you make tasteless jokes about someone’s gender or sexuality, which are most likely not even funny in the first place, and when you ask a lesbian couple, “So, sino yung babae sa inyo?” It’s just not an ideal or comfortable situation for anyone.

    Ang Huling Cha-Cha ni Anita A still from "Ang Huling Cha-Cha ni Anita," where the title character, a 12-year-old girl, falls in love with the new woman in town.  
  3. Support LGBTQ-themed media.
    Since “My Husband’s Lover” premiered in 2013 to considerable success, TV networks have kept up the effort to provide LGBTQ representation in ways that don’t feel exploitative or like they’re for shock value, and that go against the traditional perception of gay men and women in local pop culture. And while the scope of gay representation in the Philippines — as seen in films both mainstream and independent (such as “Jay” and “Ang Huling Cha-Cha ni Anita”), literature (such as J. Neil Garcia and Danton Remoto’s “Ladlad” anthologies and Carlo Vergara’s “Zsazsa Zaturnnah”), a transgender teleserye (“Destiny Rose”), and some episodes of a docudrama show (“Karelasyon”) — isn’t as wide as it is internationally, it pays to seek them out, experience them, voice out your support, and show that there’s a following for them. If creators know that their work is going somewhere and appreciated, then they would feel compelled to put better-executed gender diversity out there.
  4. Go to the 2016 Metro Manila Pride March and Festival. Head over to the Lapu-Lapu monument on June 25 to participate in this year’s Pride March. Started in the late 90s as a simple march to commemorate the Stonewall riots, the event has evolved into a venue to celebrate love and equality. It aims to be a safe space to highlight stories and to continue the discourse on the human rights of the LGBTQ. This year’s theme is “Let Love In: Kahit Kanino, Kahit Kailan,” as a response to all of the hatred that’s been prevalent lately.
  5. Support the activities organized by Metro Manila Pride.
    The organizers behind the Metro Manila Pride March need enough funds in order to make this year’s event a success. As of June 15, they’ve raised only 37 percent of their ₱184,702 goal, which is only enough to pay for a few things like the marching permits, venue rental, and food and drinks for the volunteers. Find out how you can donate on their website, or buy tickets to their fundraising events happening today, June 17, and on June 19.

    Pride march A local LGBTQ organization participating in a Pride march.  
  6. Join or donate to LGBTQ organizations.
    If you want to take your support a step further, you can consider joining any of the following LGBTQ organizations that fight to make the Philippines a more liveable, safe, and loving place for the community: LAGABLAB Pilipinas, which focuses on legislation and policy-making; Galang Philippines, a lesbian-initiated nonprofit dedicated to the needs of lesbians, bisexual women, and trans men; Rainbow Rights Project, Inc., an organization made up of lesbian and gay lawyers and legal activists dedicated to promoting active discourse on LGBTQ issues; Society of Transexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP), which advocates transgender rights; and Ang Ladlad, a political party dedicated to promoting equal rights for members of the LGBTQ community.
  7. Let them know about LGBTQ-inclusive churches.
    There are many members of the LGBTQ community who would like to express their religious faith but are worried that they will not be accepted. Fortunately, there are churches that are just as accepting, such as the Philippine Network of Metropolitan Community Church, a network of LGBTQ-affirming churches in Quezon City, Makati, Marikina, and Baguio that reclaims spaces for sexuality and spirituality.