by: Renz Baluyot, SPARK Intern 2018
Straight women by themselves are commonly discriminated against—second-class citizens for most of the world thus giving birth to movements linked to women that would otherwise be mere actions aimed towards equality: feminism, women’s suffrage and women empowerment.
These things, too, reflect on the LGBTQIA+ community. Gay men have always been the bigger poster boys for equality—with the Philippines, barely having a cesspool of female homosexual films. This leaves people uninformed about the micro-culture of lesbians, FTM (female to male) transsexuals and of course, bisexuals. It seems that even though the concept of a “girl crush” for girls—implying a cute light-hearted attraction for another female with no actual intent of pursuit, is fairly common and acceptable, it is still unclear how female-on-female relationships work.
According to a PEW Research Center study entitled “The Global Divide on Homosexuality”, the Philippines ranks first in Asia for being accepting of Homosexuality; A solid seventy-eight percent(78%), proudly say they’re accepting of homosexuals. Spain ranks at number 1 globally with 88%. They, with Canada, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Australia are the only countries that are more accepting than the Philippines.
Spain, Germany, and Canada allow same-sex marriage. The Czech Republic hasn’t granted same-sex marriage but has allowed registered partnerships and even sex change. In the Philippines, only Quezon city and the provinces of Davao and Albay have anti-discrimination ordinances. A little less than half of the countries have already passed equitable laws for LGBTs, but how come the way-higher-than-average tolerant Philippines hasn’t done anything for the progression of LGBT rights?
Queer woman representation lies deep in the cracks of media, discussion and society. One could easily parallel queer characters in mass media (being limited to so few who either adhere to out-dated tropes or as token characters to otherwise banal plotlines) to the even smaller group of female characters in the circle of these limited queer characters—women lie in the margins of the margin themselves and for them to be heard and understood they have to scream twice as loud.
It’s important to talk about queer women’s visibility. We’re otherwise constrained to our perception and stereotypes in our heads—butch lesbians and women who’ve shaved half their heads. We should ask: Where are those in between the gaps? Nasaan ang mga lesbiyanang ina? Nasaan ang ang babaeng Maximo Oliveros? Ang mga babaeng silahis na minamasdan hindi sa lente ng kalalakihan—makatotohanang pagkukwento sa buhay ng isang lesbiyana ayon sa lesbiyana?
The more we familiarize ourselves and the less we alienate females in the LGBTQIA+ community, the further we progress. We will no longer fear for we understand, we know and we’ve made them visible for the rest of us. Let’s talk about queer women, open doors to build bridges, and let us bust women’s closets wide open.
May 17 is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOTB). SPARK is one with the global community in pushing for the rights of people with diverse sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) because Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transwomen are women too.