By Atty. Farah G. Decano
BEFORE there was Cebu City’s 2012 ordinance that prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, there was Dagupan City’s Gender Equality ordinance which was approved on June 28, 2010 by then Mayor Alipio Fernandez Jr.
I wrote that piece of legislation together with the Magna Carta of Women in Dagupan City and the Ordinance on Global Dagupenos as among my final acts as councilor of the city. Yes, I take pride in writing my own ordinances whether the same were upon my own initiative or upon request of the executive. Whenever the City Administrator requested from me certain legislative measures, I did not delegate to or impose the job of drafting the proposal on department heads.
The Gender Equality Ordinance basically recognizes the humanity of people belonging to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transexual (LGBT) group and, therefore, acknowledges their inherent rights that should be respected and protected by the city government and society. Among those penalized in this ordinance are prejudicial, intolerant and inequitable acts against them on the basis of sexual orientation.
Interestingly, the day of approval of the Gender Equality Ordinance in Dagupan City fell on June 28, the same day in 1969 when gay patrons of a New York City bar called Stonewall Inn rose against police harassment and persecution. This historical event called the Stonewall riots started the movement against intolerant and bigoted practices against LGBT+ members. Every month of June, various organizations around the world commemorate this day of resistance.
This yearly movement has been called the LGBT+ Pride, or simply June Pride which means Promote Respect, Inclusion, and Dignity for Everyone. It teaches everybody to feel comfortable and safe being themselves wherever they are. It also urges government and society to recognize and protect this right.
It is sad, however, that June Pride events are more known for their flamboyant parades only, wherein the LGBT+ people loudly show off and proudly flaunt their difference. These may have resulted to images of members to be limited to mostly two: overly made-up girly gays, and stocky, binder-wearing mannish lesbians. The ordinary looking ones, of course, may have been ignored.
Society must understand that not all members of LGBT+ do inversion of roles: women behaving and looking like men and men behaving and looking like women.
It would be good strategy, therefore, in the campaign for acceptance and respect to not only underscore the diversity but also the group’s similarity with the rest of the people. It would also be a good approach to highlight famous LGBT+ members who are in mainstream occupations. They are your everyday people whom you also meet in schools, in workplaces, in markets, in government institutions and in the streets. They come in various colors, demeanors, appearances, preferences and orientations. Some are political leaders, intellectuals, actors, scientists, athletes, newscasters, teachers and students. Far from the caricature etched in the minds of the unexposed, most members of the LGBT+ are very human and ordinary. They cry, hurt, laugh and love just like everybody else.
While it is true that having colorful and flamboyant parades is a means to combat the invisibility of the LGBT plus members, it is also good to focus on other means to celebrate June Pride. Let the strategy be two-pronged: to celebrate the difference from, and to celebrate the similarities with, the rest of the world.
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