Seat at the Table: Yani and the Trinity of Awareness – Listen, Understand, Speak Up

Jul 2, 2024 0 comments

Privilege comes in different forms, and for Yanihatesu, it comes in the form of being aware. The gravity of our awareness could weigh down the ignorance that could potentially cause further discrimination, lack of unity, and mishaps in our community. Through awareness, change can be achieved— and this plays a pivotal role in our future.

For this year’s Pride Month Special with Metroscene Magazine, Yanihatesu takes ‘A Seat At The Table’ with other promising queer people with wide advocacies and brave personalities that cover their goal of spreading awareness within and outside the community. Being one of the youngest features for this month’s issue, Yanihatesu showed not only her quirky side but also her authenticity and heart in serving the people.



The art of awareness and how it affected Yani’s advocacies, as well as her perspectives in life, were all unraveled in the exclusive interview with Metroscene Mag. Get to know Yanihatesu, her journey, and the advocacies she calls for. 


Yanihates—who? Yanihatesu!



Like Yani said when asked about who Yanihatesu is off and on cam, she is not just a content creator.
“Hindi lang ako si yanihatesu na content creator; ako rin si yani na struggling sa thesis, ako rin si yani na pabyahe-byahe, si yani na nakikita mo sa LB na umiinom.” She is a multifaceted person; she is a queer content creator who undertakes the responsibility of bringing awareness to different socio-political issues, a daughter, a student, and most importantly, a young adult who still has so much to learn about the world. 



As a young teenager who was trying to grapple with the real concept of life and her identity, Yani used Twitter as her personal diary, an outlet to express her thoughts and opinions with no restriction. This caused her to be exposed to the spotlight of being a content creator at a very young age. Yani stated that ‘Inexpose ko yung sarili ko ng gano’n online na bumalik din naman sakin,’ as she burned from the judgment and criticism, both constructive and destructive, of netizens. The pressing and constant scrutiny of the public eye taught Yani one valuable lesson: Too much vulnerability online is not ideal, especially at such a young age. 


Yanihatesu and Friends! 


Despite experiencing the backlash of making her life available for the public’s viewing, Yani still remains grateful for her online life as it played a big part in Yani’s journey in navigating her queerness, identity, and life as a young woman; it gave her an avenue to express herself, raise advocacies, and a community that she can lean on during tough times. “(Through podcast) Parang hindi ako nagkaroon ng struggle with expressing my identity online. I was very outspoken about it and I had a community that supports me sa pagiging queer, and happy ako na gano’n yung mga tao na nasa circle ko.“


Yani talked about the importance of having a community and a solid support system. Yani shared that after coming out as bisexual, the queer community on Twitter showed so much support and warmth. ‘Doon ako nakahanap ng community and doon din ako nakafeel na “okay lang pala.,” 


The importance of being a part of a community wherein you feel accepted, welcomed, loved, and supported, is one of the biggest lessons the internet has taught Yani. And as someone who received so much warmth and love from the said community, she took it to herself to make sure that she contributes to making the world a safer place for the queer community, one step at a time, and in her case, she started with her turf; different social media platforms. 


Yanihatesu and the platform to listen, speak, and learn. 


Another thing that Yani was thankful for is having the privilege of not only making her voice be heard but also having a place where she could listen to the struggles of other people. "as a queer individual, meron din tayong responsibility na ituro, or ipakalat siya," she said.

She was a part of the podcast ‘Gabi ng Bading’ a friendly conversation between two queer people who talk about their experiences in life as queer people in the Philippines. ‘Gabi ng Bading’ was a platform that taught Yani the importance of compassion and empathy. This podcast allotted room for authentic and vulnerable anecdotes, allowing Yani to discuss her struggles and learn about other people’s struggles by listening to their stories as well. 

 

Being able to speak and hear from other people’s experiences helped Yani build herself up piece by piece and be the person she is today. Through Gabi ng Bading, Yani was able to navigate her bisexuality and was able to learn about the struggles that come with it, some she experienced already and some she heard from other bisexual people. Biphobia is so rampant in the Philippines. Many bisexuals, Yani included, have had experiences wherein other people invalidate their bisexuality. Yani shared that “some people (from the community itself) say that bisexuals are just straight people in hiding, and some straight people would often claim that bisexuals are just closeted gay or lesbian. Hearing these lived experiences of people who identify as bisexual opened Yani’s eyes to the fact that the topic of the lack of proper representation of bisexuality needs to be put on the table of queer discussions. 


The previous generations who fought for gay rights despite the highly homophobic community allowed today’s generation of gay people to have the freedom to express themselves. And now, it is our chance to share it with other people. 


Yanihatesu and the advocacies she carries.


When asked about her advocacy, Yani stated her great desire for a wider representation of the queer community within the country, Yani spoke about her struggles as a bisexual person while still being mindful of the struggles and plights of the Filipinos who belong to the marginalized sector; workers, farmers, and Indigenous people. discrimination that our fellow trans sisters and brothers are experiencing in the country. She firmly believes that the plight of every Filipino is the plight of and for the queer community. She believes that fighting for LGBTQIA+ rights is fighting for the rights of the Filipino masses, and fighting for the rights of the marginalized is fighting for the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community. 

Yani also shared her thoughts regarding the lack of proper sex education and SOGIE-based resources in the country. Although there is progress, still, it is not enough. Yani believes in an institutionalized education on these matters, in making resources about positive information on SOGIE available to the Filipinos with or without access to social media or the internet. While SOGIE information is yet to be institutionalized, it is our (the community) responsibility to spread awareness about it. Yani stated “As a queer individual, meron din tayong responsibility na ituro, or ipakalat siya. Pero minsan nakakabuwiset na “ano ba yan, may internet na, bakit hindi mo pa isearch,” pero kasi iba kapag galing sa experiences mo mismo, mas napapaliwanag siya ng mas malalim. Mas iba kapag sa online, may detachment kasi. Kahit nakakapagod ituro, tireless persuation talaga, kasi di rin naman ako nagstart na may perfect knowledge, natuto lang din ako sa community, so iextend natin yung patience na yon to teach other people. So sana maabot natin yung education system sa bagay na y’on.” 


The holy trinity of awareness; listening, understanding, and speaking up. 


As a content creator who is constantly exposed to progressive ideas that go against the current, Yani learned the importance of extending grace to the lived experiences of marginalized people, may it be people from the LGBTQIA+ community or other marginalized sectors in the society. One does not need to belong to a certain sector or spectrum to be able to understand and empathize with them. Yani’s journey taught her a lot and in sharing her stories and perspectives, she hopes that we learn from it, too. Awareness, as Yani stated right from the start, plays a vital role in society. But it doesn’t stop with being aware. When you become aware of things, of issues, you will now have the responsibility to spread what you know. If there is something that we can learn from the interview with Yani, it is that awareness and spreading awareness include three important steps; listening, understanding, and speaking up. We listen to other people’s stories and struggles, we try to understand where they are coming from and to empathize with them, and then with understanding, empathy, and compassion, we will help them amplify their calls by speaking up alongside them or on their behalf. We listen, we understand, and then we speak up. 


With Yani sitting at the table, it is guaranteed that the years of listening to other people’s plights, and years of studying other people’s lived experiences, will make Yani’s voice not only her’s, it also a voice to the people who do not have the privilege to seat at the table. Yet.


— 
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)

Designer:  R
ein Fortich (@reinfortichgram
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: Trisha Jane Caseria and Arnelle Maureen Omanito
Special thanks to Chicken Chingu (@chickenchinguph) 


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