To commemorate the Stonewall Riots in June of 1969 where the American LGBTQ+ community took to the streets to fight for liberation, the annual Pride Month ensued on June 1 as the world continues to celebrate the community’s positive impact on society amid the threat of the coronavirus pandemic.
As expected, mounting the traditional Pride March across major cities around the globe has been cancelled, including here in Metro Manila, which has always delivered the biggest turnout for the celebration in Southeast Asia.
But with the need to do away with the colorful parade this year to avoid a second wave of Covid-19 infections, there remains many other ways to continue fighting for equality and open-mindedness in support of LGBTQ+s.
This was the message of Blued Philippines — the world’s largest dating app for gay men — in a Zoom event on June 10.
More than being a social app, Blued takes pride in being a safe space and support system for the community. Since coming to the Philippines in 2016, the company has regularly mounted various activities and online content on such topics as femme empowerment, sex positivity and HIV/AIDS awareness among others. Ultimately, their goal is to highlight diverse voices in the community and empower them as a whole.
“We want to give a platform to some of the leading thinkers and voices from the Filipino gay community to inspire, educate and empower them to live their best lives, not just for themselves but for society at large,” said Blued Country Marketing Manager Evan Tan.
He went on to discuss the LGBTQ+ community has also been struggling throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, with many unable to work and sustain their day to day living. Such circumstances, according to Tan, can be very dangerous for LGBTQ+s, especially for those who may live in a home where they are not accepted, making them vulnerable to verbal or physical abuse.
Therefore, to commemorate Pride Month this year, Blued has changed its usual content for the celebration with a fundraiser for various LGBTQ+ organizations.
Dubbed #LetsTalkOnBlued, the newly-launched campaign will mount livestream sessions featuring notable speakers in a very interactive format. Scheduled twice a month from June to November of this year, the live event will also feature drag queen performances and quizzes for subscribers to enjoy.
According to Tan, the beneficiaries of the fundraising include Home for the Golden Gays, the Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (Strap) and the AIDS Society of the Philippines (ASP) whose members are most hit by the effects of Covid-19.
Home for the Golden Gays is a Pasay-based non-profit organization founded by columnist and LGBTQ+ activist Justo Justo in 1975. They provide support and care facilities for the elderly members of the community.
Strap is a pioneering support and advocacy group for “transpinays,” or transgender/transsexual Filipinas. It was formed in 2002 to combat stigma and discrimination based on gender identity.
Finally, ASP is an association of government, non-government and private sectors groups and individuals with the common interest of preventing the spread of HIV and AIDS in the country.
Blued donated the seed money for the fundraiser in the amount of P50,000.
#LetsTalkOnBlued is ultimately focused on reconnecting and re-strengthening bonds for the rest of the year, and will further build support systems within the sessions for the community with valuable partners.
Renowned names in the local creative industry photographer BJ Pascual and creative director Vince Uy will be the first to take part in the series on June 18 and 25, respectively on the topic of social injustice.
Online during the campaign launch, they enumerated their points of discussion which range from shaming to their coming out stories, as well as their thoughts on the SOGIE or Anti-Discrimination Bill. Less serious yet important matters they will also cover include working efficiently from home, prioritizing mental health, and elevating style and grooming.
“Since we’re all just online now, wala pa tayong choice to go out and express our pride, especially since it’s Pride Month. So [the livestream] will be a good way to talk about these issues and also to reach a different set of people, because I think that’s what’s important now — being opinionated and reaching a lot of other people,” said Pascual.
Uy followed on, “Just from the hashtag ‘let’s talk,’ it resonates with me because it’s important to create personal conversations right now, and I think what the community needs is a support system where people can really freely converse and learn from each other.
“Ultimately, if you want to voice your opinion and you convince one person [to have an open mind], that in itself is already a win,” he added.