Ladlad's vision and struggle

DIRECT LINE - Boy Abunda -

In the eyes of the law, in the minds and hearts of people as it is in God’s everyone must be equal. This is the truth and this is what is right. This is Ladlad’s (The LGBT Party List) vision and struggle at the same time. I have committed to be part of this movement that simply asks that LGBT people be given the right to be people.

Two weeks ago, Chair of Ladlad Party List Ms. Bemz Benedito was invited to deliver a message at the launch of the multimedia exhibit on gay men and transsexual women dubbed Human Soul in the House of Representatives. The exhibit, spearheaded by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), aims to gather support from lawmakers for the urgent passage of Anti-Discrimination Bill or ADB. Ladlad continues to deliver its message that whether you are gay, lesbian or transsexual, you have a right to be here in this changing world.

Here is the full text of Bemz speech. Read on.

We’ve been called lady boys, she-male, X-men and many other insulting and hurtful words.

We are called by many names, all of them centered on the belief that we cannot make up our minds. More and more, gay men are now being accepted by society, especially if they fit into the mold of the clean-cut, short-haired men who work in so-called “respectable” jobs.

But we are still relegated to stereotypes — the sex worker who walks the streets at night, exposing herself to indignities and the possibility of acquiring sexually-transmitted diseases. The entertainer with blonde hair who sings and dances in Japan. The comedy-bar host in stiletto shoes and flamboyant dress.

But stereotypes are like cardboard cut-outs: they do not form the complete picture. Not even a fragment of who we are.

I am a transgender, and I feel that I was assigned the wrong sex at birth. That is why, as in all journeys, the wrong has to be righted, the flaw corrected. In my heart and in my soul, I am a woman.

But what has society done? I would line up at the female section of the LRT, and I would be ordered to line up at the men’s section. A respectable spa would ask me to go to the men’s section. A foreign consultant would grope me while I was giving his group a tour of Tagaytay, per the order of my office. A call center would tell me they cannot hire “a man with breasts,” even if I did well in their employment exams and my grades at the university were high. A homophobic Commission on Elections would call me and my party — the LADLAD Party List — a group of “abnormal, threat to the youth and immoral” people.

But fight we did. With our voices, with our words, with images. And now, we are fighting for equal rights right here, in the halls of Congress. We are asking our congressmen to finally pass the Anti-Discrimination Bill that makes sure no lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender Filipino will be oppressed again in his or her own country.

For this is our country, too, and we are all the children of God. In His — or Her — infinite wisdom God made us all different. For only in our differences can we see our similarity, which lies in the human soul that is found within us all.

Sana po ang mga kuwento at karanasan namin na aming ibinabahagi ngayon dito sa kongreso ay magbukas sa isip at puso ng mga mambabatas na ipasa na ang Anti Discrimination Bill para maprotektahan at matanggal na ang mga tanikala ng pang-aapi, pang-aalipusta at pangungutya ng lipunan sa aming hanay.

Mapagpalayang hapon po sa inyong lahat.

In attendance were Renaud Meyer, UNDP country director, Sebastien Farcis, Roman Rivierre, UNDP, TLF-Share and Hain, representatives Teddy Casino (Bayan Muna), Walden Bello (Akbayan), Luz Ilagan (Gabriela) at Akbayan spokesperson Risa Hontiveros.

* * *

When some people complain that gays are not marginalized because “they are noisy, they scream and they have a lot of money,” they are ignorant of the plight of LGTB people all around the country who continue to suffer in silence from discrimination, battery, violence, injustice. I have traveled around the country and the sordid stories are scary. A 10-year-old boy is made into a katulong doing the laundry, cleaning the house, preparing food for his family of 10 with his siblings, going to school or working while he stays in the house because he is no good as he is bayot. A 70-year-old gay man refuses to leave his house because kids would throw candy wrappers and stones at him while the elders watch in glee as they shout at him derisively, Lola, Lola, ang sexy mo.

A 14-year-old girl is physically battered by her father because she refuses to wear dresses. A young gay boy of 16 was stabbed by his drunk father on the boy’s birthday because he is malas. And in Imperial Manila, gays are abused in different ways. A high ranking Ladlad officer was once invited by a high ranking government official to a meeting except that at the venue there were only toilets for men and women. A sick joke from a sick mind.

It’s 2011. If we were to take Harold Camping and his disciples seriously that rapture could happen, or the Mayan calendar that says that Dec. 21, 2011 is the end of the world, (preposterous this maybe to a lot of minds) the world is old and yet the LGTB community has not yet been given the right to be equal with all. Ladlad will fight to the very end to start a life that has been stolen by the bigots of hell.

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