Tuesday, July 4, 2017

What does Courtney Act and Rich Fernandez have in common?

Self-proclaimed Courtney Act fanboy Rich Fernandez does a fun and quirky shoot with Filipino photographer Adrian Gonzales.

So who is Rich anyway? From liking drag queens to helping push LGBT advocacies to his thousands of social media followers, get to know the guy who is a geeky programmer by day, and a fierce and fabulous party boy by night! Introduce yourself. Who is Rich Fernandez?

Basically, I'm just a web developer with a heart. Haha!
I heard about this quote once, "We become whatever we choose to fill our minds with." I believe that if you're full of negativity, you have to be ready for the consequences. However, if you're keeping positive and if you know how to appreciate the world around you, then it will show you all the happiness this life can offer.

When did it occur to you that you were gay?

I’d like to think I was born gay. From childhood, I’ve never really had a liking for girls and I thought it was normal for me to like boys. It was not until I heard of the word "gay" and saw how it's frowned upon in our society that I’ve come to realize I was one.

What struggles did you face growing up?

It wasn’t going through the bullying and people’s judgment that I found difficult, but rather, I think the greatest struggle for me was to figure out if there was anything wrong with me. I constantly asked myself as to why I felt different from all the other kids. It was not until eventually that I learned I was perfectly normal. That there’s nothing wrong with me. It's our society that needs fixing.

How has your experiences honed you?

I’ve become braver, I guess. When I was young, I was scared of the word "gay" because of the negativity it connotes. Now, being gay is something that I have learned to celebrate.

At which point did you realize that you were happy with your identity? How would you advise others who are going through the same thing?

Just recently, I think. I used to care too much about what other people would think of me before. Prior being out, I was afraid of what my family would think of me. Then when I was out and open, I became afraid of being judged by my own community – gay people may think I'm too gay (read: effeminate) because discrimination still exists within the LGBT community. I think I just learned not to care (about what others say) at some point. You just can't allow that much negativity in your life.
I don't think coming out was really a problem for me. I mean, I never really had to open myself to my parents and tell them I was gay. They already knew it since I was a kid. I think most parents will know that their kid is special if they pay attention close enough.
For all the kids out there who are still struggling, just know that your happiness shouldn't depend on what people think about you. Just live by your own values and be a good person. What's the worst thing they can call you? A fag? Big deal!

What made you realize that you were perfectly normal the way you are?

As a child, I was taught that it was wrong to love people of the same gender. As I grew older, I started to ask myself why. What's wrong if my heart finds it more natural to love another man? Nothing is ever wrong with love, I believe. As long as your heart is pointing you towards a direction that feels right, then follow it.

Did anyone influence you to accept yourself more?

I'm very fond of drag queens. They spit on the walls of a binary gender construct. It feels so “punk-rock” to me. Gender equality in America wouldn't be as recognized as it is now if weren't for them and the people who rallied at Stonewall.

My favorite queen is Courtney Act (look her up if you haven’t!). She's most known for being a finalist in Australian Idol and one of the top 3 in RuPaul's Drag Race Season 6. What amazes me about her the most (besides her unbelievable beauty and many talents) is the fact that she uses her fame as a platform to make change. Fighting for gender equality in Australia, voicing out her ideas on gun regulation laws in America, riding for AIDS life cycle, fighting for trans people's right to use the bathroom they're comfortable with. And that's just to name a few. I hope more people would be as dedicated as her.

How similar or different are you from fellow LGBT?

Hmmm, I really don't know. Although I think that this generation of LGBT is a little more concerned about getting a boyfriend, getting laid, and climbing up the social ladder. Especially now with social media having become a great part of our culture. Most of us would rather use this platform to get likes, hookups, followers, and attention with apps like Facebook, Tinder, and Grindr. What others don't realize is that social media is also a great tool for us to cause change. Social media is giving all of us a voice, but sadly most are taking it for granted.

Where do you think does the LGBT stand in our society now?

Here's the thing. Our society, as a whole, I think is progressive. More and more kids are getting comfortable with their sexuality because they're starting to see the diversity of genders everywhere, especially in mainstream media. And that's a good sign because it means that people are starting to tolerate our existence. But it shouldn't end there. The fight for acceptance will not be over until the smallest and most vulnerable members of our society is treated as equal as the others.

PH dialogue pushes for gender-responsive disaster risk reduction and management

“Strengthening Gender-Responsive Sendai Framework Implementation: Addressing the GIR and Promoting Community Resilience in the Philippines” 

To ensure that the GIR meets the specific needs of Philippines, the partners, in close collaboration with the OCD, facilitated a consultation dialogue “Strengthening Gender-Responsive Sendai Framework Implementation: Addressing the GIR and Promoting Community Resilience in the Philippines” between 20th and 21st June 2017. The meeting was held to identify common challenges that Philippines is facing with regard to addressing gender inequality through DRRM but also to identify key priorities and good practices that should be addressed and promoted through the proposed GIR Programme, The event was also supported by the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) and attended by gender focal points from various national government agencies, civil society organizations and non-government organizations from different parts of the country.

Round Table Discussion: The Gender Dimensions of Risk: Experiences in the Philippines 
Panelist (from left to right): Atty. Amparita Sta. Maria of Ateneo Human Rights Center (AHRC), Ms. Ellen Dicta-an Bang-oa of ebtebba Foundation, Roxanne Omega Doron of Bisdak Pride, Inc., Mr. Jaime Antonio Jr., Program Coordinator, Program Coordinator, SDG Localization iWaSH.

#UNWOMEN #LGBT #DRR #ClimateChange #PasigCity #BisdakPride #BisdakPrideInc #PatasAngGugma #GarboLGBT #DYCM #DYCM1152

Link: PH dialogue pushes for gender-responsive disaster risk reduction and management

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Forgotten no more: LGBT-specific disaster response in the aftermath of Haiyan

 Image may contain: 23 people, people smiling, people standing and indoor

Forgotten no more By Roxanne Omega Doron After the onslaught of any disaster (natural or man-made), various responders are quick to provide sector specific interventions. In Samar, for instance, after supertyphoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) damaged the area, donors started an egg-laying livelihood program for women survivors. In Tacloban, projects were started to help women grow home vegetable gardens so their families would have a source of fresh vegetables. And in almost all areas affected by Yolanda, psychosocial experts started supporting the mental rehabilitation of women and children. But for a while, one glaring absence was notable among the responses – and that is the inclusion of the marginalized LGBT community. This is, for me unfortunate, particularly because it emphasized the double marginalization experienced by the LGBT community after the onslaught of disasters. For example, the risk of sexual violence may increase during social instability. We’ve come across anecdotes of refugee tents used to molest young boys. Sexual and reproductive health needs, which continue and increase during crisis, also remain unanswered. And since personal grooming and hygiene is not a priority of disaster survivors, the livelihood of many LGBT people are affected (e.g. parloristas), which is unfortunate considering that most of these LGBT people are the breadwinners of their families. I believe that a truly inclusive society responds to disaster inclusively. Already, last February 2014, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) funded a pioneering LGBT-specific disaster response in the Visayas – “The Haiyan Aftermath: Listening to and Understanding the Unheard LGBT Voices in Haiyan (Yolanda) Affected Communities in the Visayas.” This was historic because it was the first of its kind in the Philippines. But more importantly, it significantly contributed to understanding the unheard voices of LGBT communities affected by Yolanda and contributed to the realization of gender identity and expression specific interventions tailored within the context of disaster risk reduction and management. With 120 participants from various regions in the Visayas (90% of them gay or trans, the rest are lesbians), the effort generated three great effects: 1) LGBT-specific views on the impact of typhoon Haiyan; 2) positioning of the LGBT communities and leaders in the Visayas on climate change adaption (CCA) and disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM); and 3) creation of local LGBT advocates. UUSC eventually funded “Build Resilient LGBT Communities: Organizing, Strengthening and Networking” in three regions in the Visayas, with the intention of bringing together more than 100 members of the LGBT community in the Yolanda-affected areas to enhance their understanding on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression; human rights; and the importance of organizing, networking and advocacy. Building resilience, in this case, means providing opportunity for various LGBT organizations helm locally-led activities that will not only enhance their organizational capacity and human rights advocacy and commitment, but also help them become sustainable. Already, at least three livelihood development plans are being initiated by LGBT groups; even as the LGBT communities in the Visayas also organized themselves into one network (aptly called “Hugyaw Ka!”, an expression common to LGBT communities in the Visayas, which loosely means “Rejoice! Wonderful! Excellent!”). All efforts to help disaster-affected communities should be recognized. But these efforts also need to be made more inclusive to ensure that everyone affected – LGBT people included – are served. Because in the case of the LGBT community, we can help ourselves if we are, to start, given the tools to do so, including in increasing understanding of commitment and solidary on LGBT issues, documenting of our experiences as affected by the likes of supertyphoon Yolanda, and establishing of LGBT groups and networks. We ought not to be forgotten anymore.

What does Courtney Act and Rich Fernandez have in common?

Self-proclaimed Courtney Act fanboy Rich Fernandez does a fun and quirky shoot with Filipino photographer Adrian Gonzales. So who is Ri...