Five media personalities honored for defending gay rights in the Philippines


OutrageMagPhilippines: The first Bahaghari Awards launched by Outrage Magazine, the only LGBT magazine in the Philippines, has honored five media personalities for defending gay rights.

Celebrated advice columnist Dr. Margarita Go-Singco Holmes, journalists Cheche Lazaro and Jessica Soho, University of the Philippines professor Solita “Winnie” Monsod, and singer-actress Lea Salonga were the winners as announced by the magazine on March 10, reports ph.news.yahoo.com.

The award is conferred on media personalities identified by Outrage Magazine, with the help of select LGBT organizations, as having made efforts to educate and inform the public about the struggle of LGBTs for equal rights.

“Gay people are no different from straight people in terms of their needs, ” said Holmes. This statement became a recurring message of her widely-read advice column “BodyMind,” published in the Manila Times in 1989.

“Many letters were from adolescents who were seriously considering suicide because they believed that God would punish them for their ‘abnormality.’ I was furious and wanted to explain the difference between the opinion of some moralists and what current research said about homosexuality,” said Holmes, a psychologist.

Lazaro, another awardee, helped provide positive media exposure to LGBT Filipinos. It was in the 1990s when she made a special report on the first-ever solidarity march in the Philippines and in Asia. Since then, Lazaro has continued to cover and report stories on the plight of the LGBT community.

“Like any other issues facing our society, our intention as media practitioners is to clarify, inform and give our audience information that is based on facts. Many times, our understanding of issues are based on wrong information or a lack of it as well as biased perceptions,” Lazaro said.

Today, Lazaro produces a monthly documentary that airs on ABS-CBN. It tackles pressing issues in the country like LGBT issues along with the pork barrel scam and election automation, among other things.

Monsod, more popularly known as “Mareng Winnie” has been an analyst in Philippine media for more than three decades.

In 2012, Monsod tackled an important issue troubling many members of the LGBT community—HIV. She attempted to answer why HIV continues to be a problem in the Philippines, and stressed the importance of self-awareness of people’s behaviors to clearly grasp the risks of HIV.

Salonga, who has been making waves in the international scene with her countless appearances in the world of theater continuously making Filipinos proud, has become vocal about her pro-LGBT stance.

In her column “Backstory,” published in Philippine Daily Inquirer in March 2013, she wrote: “I spend much of my time around gay people. Some of it is purely by circumstance, but a lot is by choice.” She is also active in the social media, confronting issues that are LGBT-phobic.

For multi-awarded broadcast journalist Soho, LGBT issues are deemed a regular issue that deserves proper reportage and airtime.

In her investigative news magazine shows on GMA-7 like “Brigada Siete,” “i-Witness,” and “State of the Nation,” Soho highlighted and mainstreamed the issues of the LGBT community.

Soho also discussed intersecting issues on sexuality, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, thus, giving the viewers a closer glimpse of what it’s like to be an LGBT in a country where discrimination is still happening.

The five Bahaghari winners were chosen based on the following criteria: fairness, accuracy, inclusive representations, and most significantly, the impact of their efforts on the community.

“Best practices need to be emphasized as they could help influence other endeavors attempting to do good,” said Michael David C. Tan, editor in chief of Outrage Magazine.

Outrage Magazine, which Tan established in 2007, initially focused on coverage of LGBT issues and events in the Philippines. Through the years, the magazine also launched several LGBT-related projects, including photographic campaigns and established Bahaghari Center that focuses on LGBT research, education and advocacy.

Source: ph.news.yahoo.com

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