Seat at the Table: Empowering Queer Voices and Claiming Your Rightful Place

Jun 20, 2024 0 comments

The Philippines enjoys a reputation as a welcoming nation for the LGBTQIA+ community. Year after year, it is recognized as one of the most gay-friendly nations globally. Ironically and truthfully, the same cannot be said for the protection of the very community it presumably welcomes.

Even with daily breakthroughs towards ending gender stereotypes, remnants of bigotry and heteronormative biases still linger in the chambers and tables of those who are supposed to be making it equal for everyone.

The gaps in our lawmakers' priorities and the delay in protections such as the SOGIESC Bill prompt a crucial question: What can the LGBTQIA+ community do to ensure their voices are heard now more than ever?

On the cover: Deo Cabrera (@deogelo_), Yani (@yanihatesu), M1ss Jade So(@m1ssjadeso), and Queen Mathilda (@mathildaairlines).

A Seat at the Table

Every year for Pride Month, we celebrate the strides and progress of the LGBTQIA+ community. However, at the heart of this event, beyond the celebration, lies a protest and a safe space for discussing the need for action on diversity, equity, and inclusion, specifically focusing on rights and protection.

Some progress has been made in the past few years, but there is still much to do. Many narratives and voices from the LGBTQIA+ community have been told and listened to in the last decade, but the community remains underrepresented in many major aspects.

The metaphor "a seat at the table" signifies having a voice, an opinion, and a perspective. It represents inclusion, participation, and the ability to influence decisions. The table has become a powerful symbol of opportunity, a place where diverse voices can be heard, and individuals can contribute to meaningful dialogue and change. Having a seat at the table means being recognized as an equal participant, with the chance to shape outcomes and drive progress.

This Pride Month, Metroscene Mag, a platform for the young, empowered, and creative, rallies alongside our queer icons Deo Cabrera, Yani, Miss Jade So, and Queen Mathilda, encouraging everyone to take their rightful seat at the table.

We all deserve a place where our voices are heard, our ideas valued, and our contributions celebrated. It's not just the right thing to do; it strengthens the table itself.

Claiming Your Rightful Place

There is much more to coming to the table than simply taking a seat. It represents more than just a physical presence; it embodies the unique voice of a holistic experience that is being listened to, appreciated, and valued.

Queen Mathilda's journey as a queer activist and social justice advocate is a powerful testament to taking your seat and making your voice heard. Reflecting on her experiences, she says,

"As a queer activist and a social justice advocate for years, I've seen enough stories of struggles deeply rooted in a hetero-patriarchal society. Inclusivity is not just inviting a person to join your table but also making that person feel that they belong there and should include their stories in the conversation."

In photo: Yani (@yanihatesu) and Queen Mathilda (@mathildaairlines).

As we claim our rightful place at the table, it's also essential to ask: what is that table for, and who else should be included? Yani's advocacy extends beyond the queer community, emphasizing the need for inclusive decision-making: "Through proper representation, we can present our experiences and demands clearly. We should not wait decades for a law that will protect not only our community but everyone. I believe through proper representation, our calls will be heard without being misconstrued. These are our experiences, and we can better fight for and explain why we need this."

In photo: Deo Cabrera (@deogelo_) and Queen Mathilda (@mathildaairlines).

Taking a seat at the table is more than just an opportunity—it's a responsibility to represent and advocate for change. As M1ss Jade So eloquently puts it,

"Taking a seat at the table for me is about prioritizing us to have the power to make a change. It’s time that you listen to us, right here, right now, as an LGBTQIA+ individual and as a citizen of the Philippines, with equal rights.”

M1ss Jade So leverages her platforms—through performances, content creation, and everyday interactions—to amplify her voice and be heard. “With my platforms, I take the Goddessafjcation movement as an empowerment for my kind, not only showcasing beauty but also heart and brain during Pride Month and beyond,” she added.

Claiming a spot at the table brings with it the responsibility to voice what truly matters for the community we represent. As Deo Cabrera asserts,

"Queer representation and opinion in policy-making and legislative processes are crucial so that lawmakers understand how the bills and laws they create affect our community directly or indirectly. Moreover, queer representation will allow our lawmakers to create or help pass laws that benefit our community."

Cabrera emphasizes that queer representation in governance ensures that lawmakers understand the real-world impacts of their decisions on the LGBTQIA+ community. This visibility is crucial not only for preventing harm but also for proactively crafting legislation that supports and uplifts queer individuals.

You Have the Right to Be Here

In Photo: Deo Cabrera (@deogelo_), Yani (@yanihatesu), M1ss Jade So(@m1ssjadeso), and Queen Mathilda (@mathildaairlines).

The call for everyone to take part in this discussion at the table is not an easy task. The strides made by every generation of queer people before us have brought us to this moment. It is our duty, as the current generation, to make this call stronger, more understanding, and more just for the next generation.

A fight for our rights is a fight for the lives of every queer person questioning their mere presence and existence in a world that often denies them the basic right to be human and protected as such. We start by taking our seats at the table until everyone is included and protected.

As we celebrate Pride Month and fight for our right to have rights, let me end with a line from Max Ehrmann's poem, Desiderata: "You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here."

Produced by Mark Elwyn Baccay (@markelwyn)
Cover Images Photographed by Miggy Broño (@miggybrono_)
Creative Direction: Mark Elwyn Baccay (@markelwyn)
Editor-in-Chief: Mark Elwyn Baccay (@markelwyn)
Makeup: Artist: Jia Cruz (@jiaachacruz)
Hairstyling: Gab Villegas (@grandpagabo)

Fashion Styling: Bryan Laroza (@iambryanlaroza)

Designers: Yves Camingue (@ycmng_), East of Eden (@exploreeastofeden
Kurt Abonal (@kurtabonal), and Thian Rodriguez (@thianrodriguezmnl)
Set and Production Design: Studio Tatin (@studio.tatin) by Migs Alcacid (@migsalcid
Assisted by Vienna Bleza (@viennableza), Neil John Remolin (@neiljohnremolin), Mariz Fetalvero (@mariz.fetalvero)
Videographers: Gimo Natanawan (@gimomigo)
Shot at Studio LAJ (@studiolajph)
Story: Mark Elwyn Baccay (@markelwyn)
Special thanks to Chicken Chingu (@chickenchinguph)

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