Monday, June 15, 2015

The Best In Us

It is common knowledge that the LGBT community is discriminated and that stigma and discrimination fuels the deepening oppression of our community, which undoubtedly results to violating the rights of the LGBT community to actively participate in all aspects of community development.
Hence, our participation in any endeavor, whether artistic or not, that helps clarify issues and transform peoples’ lives and communities, is always welcome (but risky) because we believe it is effective in eradicating the oppressive gap between the LGBT and non-LGBT community.
More specifically, our participation in the Theatre for Development (T4D) project of UNICEF Philippines and Tanghalang Pilipino elevated our status and reaffirmed our commitment to gender equality and human rights advocacy in a post-Haiyan context.
One of our core programs is the promotion of Queer Culture and Arts. It is common knowledge that excellence in any art forms performed by the LGBT community is apparent. Even if we are not a theater group or an artist organization for that matter, we supported various cultural and artistic endeavors in the city and province of Cebu mostly performed by young heterosexual adolescents (i.e. Binisaya Film Festival, Lilas Binisaya and Cinema Rehiyon 7 all National Commission on Culture and the Arts funded projects).

In fact, on February 2013, during the celebration of Cebu Arts Month, the Cebu provincial government, acknowledge the contribution of Bisdak Pride, Inc. 

Known to many, when the LGBTs performed during various occasions, often fiestas to honor Roman Catholic saints, we are always the performers and our performances are often viewed as “lewd and tasteless” without even an iota of “sense of social and inner justice”. In other words, performances that allows people to laugh at the expense of deepening oppression, discrimination and stigma.

However, the T4D proved that we can do more and serious in providing entertainment to affected communities. The T4D proved that we raised the bar of LGBT performances, and that is something that we want other LGBT groups in communities to replicate.

Because the T4D empowered not just an organization like ours, but more importantly it allowed every member of the theater group to acknowledge, after careful discerning, that we can actually change the existence of “tasteless” performances into worthwhile performances that not only includes an exclusive LGBT actors but an inclusive membership where anyone, regardless of sex and gender can come-up with a powerful story about people’s lives and issues and how to change it for the common good.

The actors of our group, coming from different social backgrounds, different sub-populations within the LGBT community, and a few equality advocates, learned the hard way to be accepted, heard and integrated in a group so dynamic and diverse.

But the T4D proved to be unifying.

It does not only educate affected and concerned communities, in our case, it changed our stand and viewpoints, perspectives and attitudes on how we deal with ourselves and the people we want to educate and organize.

The issues that we tackled during our presentation, LGBT rights, adolescent reproductive health, informed choice and teenage pregnancy were the same issues and concerns that we’ve discussed in various platforms. But theater for development, using theater forum, changed the way issues and stories were told and performed. More importantly, it also changed the storytellers themselves. 

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