Understanding and Accepting the LGBTQ+ Community Beyond Words

If you're like me, you might find yourself puzzled by the evolving discussions around gender identity. Growing up in Albay during the 1980s and 90s, I witnessed firsthand how terms like "bakla" were delivered with a sting that branded it an insult. Considering this background, my attempt to talk about gender fluidity and other LGBTQ+ topics might seem intricate. If this resonates with you, this article aims to cultivate understanding and respect for a community that is rightfully asserting its place in society.

Understanding Sexuality and Gender Through Personal Stories

I'm not an expert on this topic, so I reached out to several people to share their experiences, helping me explore the varied and personal nature of these identities. Here are their stories:

  • Bea's Story - Heterosexual: Bea has always been attracted to the opposite sex. Her journey is filled with romantic interests and deepening relationships that reflect a heterosexual orientation, where emotional and romantic connections with men are profound and meaningful.
  • Marco's Revelation - Gay: Marco's true feelings became clear when he met Paolo at university. Their deep connection evolved into a loving relationship, helping Marco embrace his identity as a gay man. His path to acceptance is a testament to the power of self-discovery and community support.
  • Nico's Dual Heart - Bisexual: Nico discovered his attraction to both genders during his youth, feeling equally connected to his close female friend and a male neighbor. This realization helped him identify as bisexual, embracing a dual attraction that defines his unique perspective on love.
  • AJ's Quiet - Asexual: AJ finds fulfillment in friendships rather than romantic or sexual relationships. This lack of sexual attraction defines their asexual identity, emphasizing that personal fulfillment can come in many forms beyond romantic love.

Gender Identity Through Personal Lives

I believed I understood gender identity until I heard these stories, revealing its complexity and diversity:

  • Camille's Alignment - Cisgender: Camille's gender identity as a woman matches the sex she was assigned at birth. Her story is one of congruence, where her internal identity aligns seamlessly with external perceptions, providing her with a straightforward path in terms of gender identity.
  • Eli's Transition - Transgender: Born as Eliza, Eli knew from a young age that he was a man. His transition during his teenage years was a pivotal journey towards aligning his external existence with his true gender identity, marking a profound transformation from the expected to the affirmed.
  • Sam's Fluidity - Genderqueer/Non-Binary: Sam's style varies, embodying neither strictly male nor female identities. Identifying as genderqueer, Sam challenges traditional gender categories, living a life that reflects a broader spectrum of gender beyond the binary.
  • Rica's Variability - Genderfluid: Rica experiences shifts in gender identity, feeling more feminine or masculine on different days. This fluidity allows Rica to express a spectrum of gender identities, highlighting the dynamic nature of their personal gender experience.

Understanding Gender Sensitivity: A Personal Journey

In the world of evolving identities, the journey towards gender sensitivity often starts unexpectedly, usually intertwined with our everyday interactions. This was true for me during a pivotal day at work in the early 2000s. I was working under a CEO in Makati who happened to be gay. He overheard me using the term "bakla" and later asked, "What do you have against gay people?" I was taken aback, replying, "Nothing." His next words made me rethink not just what I said but how I said it. He pointed out that the way I used 'bakla,' a word deeply rooted in my childhood vocabulary with often a hint of disdain, carried unintended undertones of disrespect. This moment showed me that true understanding and sensitivity go beyond acceptance; they require us to actively adjust our behaviors and expressions to respect others' identities.

From that moment, I consciously adjusted my language and sought to learn about the various aspects of LGBTQ+ identities and experiences. Each step towards sensitivity is a step towards creating a more inclusive environment for everyone.

Embracing Inclusivity and Respect in Our Evolving Understanding

Engaging with the complexities of gender identity and sexuality highlights the importance of understanding and respect. My experience with a colleague affectionately referred to as "Mommy" and discussions with my sister about her son's emerging homosexual identity taught me about the nuanced implications of personal identity in different environments. These personal anecdotes show how everyday moments can serve as opportunities for promoting a deeper understanding of the LGBTQ+ community. By engaging in respectful practices, such as being mindful of our language, we contribute to creating more inclusive environments where all individuals feel acknowledged and valued.


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