PH is "Asia’s gay-friendliest nation," says Aussie writer
Freelance writer Doug Hendrie, whose work has appeared on The Huffington Post, discussed how the gay community is viewed in the Philippines in his September 7 column, "Asia’s gay-friendliest nation?"
Hendrie’s introduction put the spotlight on a taxi driver named Mark who reportedly told him, "I sometimes wish I (were) gay. Gays are very hard workers. They do well in business, in school. They are more successful. Often, they are the breadwinners for an entire family. ’I admire them, actually.’"
With that as a take-off point, Hendrie then proceeded to put the spotlight on several successful gay Filipinos such as TV host/talent manager Boy Abunda, comedian Vice Ganda, beauty salon mogul Ricky Reyes, and director Jose Javier Reyes.
To help explain the phenomenon, Hendrie quoted Andrew De Real, owner of prominent Manila gay club The Library, who thinks that "gays are more accepted because many end up supporting their families financially." "Because most gays don't have children, they become responsible for their family, their siblings, their nieces and nephews," De Leal explained.
Hendrie revealed that Bemz Benedito, chairperson of the country’s (and the world’s) only gay political party, also acknowledged that "greater degree of passive tolerance exists in the Philippines than elsewhere in Asia." "The problem is that tolerance and leniency doesn't always equate to opportunity and equal protection before the law. That’s why we are pushing for acceptance."
Hendrie likewise quoted lesbian activist Ging Cristobal who said: "Tolerance is high in the Philippines as long as you conform to the stereotypes. As long as you are funny, as long as you don’t rock the boat and ask for your rights, it's okay to be gay and lesbian here. To avoid family shame, you regulate your own sexuality. You don't come out."
While Filipino gays still have a lot of issues to resolve, Hendrie pointed out that they’ve already blazed a lot of trails. For instance, there’s Golden Gays, a gay and lesbian retirement home in Pasay City. Ladlad, on the other hand, has set its sights on three seats in Congress in the next elections.
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