27 September 2012

Philippine Queer Geographies: Gender, Sexuality and Space

The Department of Geography and the Proud to be LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) Campaign hosted a forum on Philippine Queer Geographies: Gender, Sexuality and Space last August 29, 2012, held at the CSSP AVR (PH 207) from 1-5pm. This collaborative effort, the ‘coming out’ of Philippine Queer Geographies, aimed to discuss and put forward variegated concerns and issues about gender identity, sexuality, and space in the Philippines.  Invited speakers were songwriter/performer Tao Aves, former president of LGBT organization Babaylan  Hender Gercio, fashion industry practitioner Santi Obcena and Ira Briones who is into full-time work on LGBT rights and welfare, as well as HIV and AIDS.

The speakers shared their experiences about how gender identity and sexuality are expressed and accepted in different spaces and places.  Ms. Aves discussed gender issues in performative spaces.  She shared that as a performer, she did not experience any form of discrimination, which could be due to the fact that she ‘looks’ heterosexual.  However, her use of ‘she/her’ instead of ‘he/him’ in her songs elicits noticeable reactions from the audience, as she is expected to sing about the opposite sex.  Meanwhile the fashion world, which is dominated by gay men designing clothes for women, is more accepting of people of all gender identities and sexual orientations, according to Mr. Obcena.

The University of the Philippines as an academic space is still a long way from being gender-sensitive in Ms. Gercio’s opinion.  Though there are courses that tackle gender issues (e.g. PanPil 19, SocSci 103) there are still courses that put distinction between men and women, particularly PE Courses (e.g. Basketball for Men and Women, Swimming for Men and Women, etc.).  The use of the male/female dichotomy for the category ‘sex’ in the UPCAT form and other forms used by the University was, for Ms. Gercio, an example of a gender-insensitive practice. 

As a reaction to the rising HIV cases among MSM (men who have sex with men) in the country, Ms. Briones discussed the emergent concerns of the gay community.  She talked about how discrimination is happening not only to the members of the LGBT community, but to HIV patients as well.  She stressed the importance of support and acceptance for people who have contracted HIV.

Geographers, Ms. Ros De Vera, Ms. Mylene De Guzman, Mr. Kristian Saguin and Dr. Andre Ortega integrated the issues that were identified by the speakers and talked on how these issues could be further explored by members of the academe, in the hope of increasing awareness about gender-related concerns in the country.#  Mylene de Guzman

No comments:

Post a Comment