Acceptance and identity: being queer and Filipino in Calgary
Brands like Converse, Mac Cosmetics and Levi’s are donning on rainbow designs or even producing rainbow-specific products in celebration of the LGBTQIA2S+ community of Canada. For media organizations like ours, it’s the perfect time to come out with stories of love, struggle and redemption from the queer community. But aside from Pride, June is also the month where Canadians celebrate the diverse culture of one of the biggest immigrant groups in their country – Filipino Heritage Month.
With this unique intersection of the celebration of two uniquely different cultures, The Reflector has decided to launch a series of stories called “Acceptance and identity: being queer and Filipino in Calgary”. This series focuses on the nuanced stories of Filipino gay couples from Mount Royal University; how they grew up, how they adjusted to Calgary and Canada and how their intersectional identities shaped them to become the people they are today.
A study from the University of Rochester and University of Essex examining the psychological effects of coming out as lesbian, gay or bisexual increases emotional well-being. It decreases the likelihood of depression, anger and increases overall self-esteem.
According to the study’s coauthor, coming out allows queer people to “an authentic sense of themselves and to cultivate a positive minority sexual identity”.
But another coauthor of the study said that “environment plays a huge role in determining when coming out actually makes you happier,”.
For the 20-year-old Mount Royal University (MRU) nursing student Ian Rivero, coming out was the last thing he thought of doing in high school. Because of his fear of being bullied, he repressed his feminine traits and interests and instead put on a masculine front.
Know more about his story and his current partner Kit dela Cruz, a 23-year-old graphic designer from southeast Calgary, as they reflect on how their experiences shaped their identity and relationship here.
But discrimination for each person can look very different when put into a different context. That’s the situation of MRU alumni and 25-year-old nurse Keith where back in his hometown he was ridiculed for being gay while also being favoured for having light skin.
Know more about his story and his current partner Seb, a 26-year-old graphic designer; how they tackled Filipino derogatory words while growing up and more about their relationship here.
But not all gay Filipinos have experienced a lot of bullying and discrimination when they were younger. This was the situation of Matthew Madrid, a 21-year-old animation student from southwest Calgary, when he was growing up and when he moved to Canada.
Know more about how this affected his relationship with Joshua Zarate, a 23-year-old preschool teacher and MRU alumni, who experienced bullying when he was younger here.
A common factor as to why Filipino families negatively look at gay people is religion. About 80% of Filipinos consider themselves Roman Catholic and what comes with that is the notion that God is not accepting of people in the LGBTQIA2S+ community.
This is what Carla Villeta, a 24-year-old MRU Information Design student, experienced with her family when they found out she’s dating a girl. She describes what she went through with her parents as “traumatic”
Know more about her story and her current partner Hermie Ocenar, a 23-year-old MRU Broadcasting student, how Ocenar experienced racism at a young age and how their relationship confronted the challenges of having religious parents here.
The Reflector published an article last year detailing the lack of queer people of colour representation in both film and TV in the past year. With the launch of this series, The Reflector hopes it will open more opportunities and ideas for the media industry to produce worthwhile queer stories that truly feature the significant lives of people of colour.