In fight for equal rights, queer Filipinos build communities on social media

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In the Philippines where the majority are Catholic, those who are queer won’t always find support from their immediate communities. They end up creating their own.

PRIDE. Members of the LGBT community join a Pride March in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines, June 25, 2022. File photo by Lisa Marie David/Reuters

In tears, Louis recounted the incident on TikTok where it quickly went viral, drawing widespread reactions from the queer community. The support spilled over to the physical world. People started to reach out to Louis to send her comfort food, while business owners invited her to their stores. Most important to her was the legal support she was offered by concerned groups and allies.

But the trauma will likely remain, Louis said, recalling the volume of hate she received online. “I received more hate messages after it went viral…especially on Facebook. Some even threatened to kill me,” she said. After the incident, Louis said she was anxious to return to Taguig City for a while, fearing that the threats may actually turn real. “If only there was a law against discrimination, there would definitely have been a case against the store.

The Philippines looks like an anomaly in Pew Research Center’s survey. Where data shows a high positive correlation between the country’s wealth and its acceptance of LGBT, the Philippines is almost as accepting of the queer community as its wealthier counterparts. Over the years, they have leveraged the power of social media to spark collective action and challenge the status quo. Many organizations like Bahaghari, have relied on the supportive and social media-savvy queer community online to push the gay rights movement forward.

 

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donkevinhapal Produced in partnership with the pulitzercenter.

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