With the elections fast approaching, presidential and vice presidential aspirants are scrambling to secure votes from certain demographics. One of the communities that hopefuls seem to be working harder to woo is the LGBTQIA+.
Or at least that’s what we thought, until Mayor Inday Sara Duterte-Carpio said that she was part of the LGBTQIA+ during an event where members of a network called LGBT Pilipinas reaffirmed its support for Bongbong Marcos’s UniTeam Alliance.
At the March 10 event held at the Great Eastern Hotel in Quezon City, Duterte-Carpio told the crowd that she “loves” the LGBT community because she’s a part of it. She said so while recalling an exchange with a supporter: “Sabi niya, ‘Hindi, mahal ka namin dahil mahal mo ang LGBT.’ Sabi ko naman sa kanya, ‘Paanong hindi ko ba mamahalin ang LGBT eh LGBT din ako?’”
The Davao mayor added that cutting her hair short was her way of becoming a man. “Sa gender stereotyping, ang sinasabi nila ang lalaki maikli ang buhok, ang babae mahaba ang buhok. Kaya po minsan nakikita ninyo maikli ang buhok ko; gusto ko po maging lalaki niyan. ’Pag ayaw ko na po maging lalaki, pinapahaba ko po ang aking buhok.”
Duterte-Carpio did clarify that she isn’t attracted to women but is drawn to work stereotypically associated with men. She shared that she was told in a previous conversation, “Ang sexual orientation mo ay babae, ang gender expression mo ay lalaki.”
PANTAY Pilipinas national convener Vince Liban called Duterte-Carpio’s statement on identifying as queer because of her gender expression “misleading.” “GENDER ROLES are performative acts and expectations set by society that DO NOT necessarily equate to Identity. You can still be a woman and do ‘manly’ things and vice versa,” he wrote in a Twitter thread.
While it’s nice to hear a politician discuss SOGIE, a person’s sex isn’t synonymous to their sexual orientation nor gender expression. Sexual orientation refers to whom one is attracted to, not the gender by which one presents themselves or identifies as. Perhaps the mayor would appreciate our SOGIE guide as a refresher.
The highly private candidate didn’t mention whether she identified with a particular SOGIE label. Interesting to note is how her father, President Rodrigo Duterte, once said that he had “cured” himself of homosexuality with the help of beautiful women. One can’t help but wonder whether they have ever discussed these in private.
Policies over performativity
We’re far from the type of people to question or discredit a person’s journey to self-discovery and coming out. The bigger thing to note is this: For the first time in Philippine history, voters will be asking themselves whether a vice presidential candidate who identifies as part of the LGBTQIA+ community is their best bet.
Some members of the community are cautious about Duterte-Carpio’s supposed coming out. Bahaghari Chairperson Rey Valmores-Salinas accused the candidate of seeking sympathy votes from the LGBTQIA+. “Ang pagiging bahagi ng LGBTQIA+ community ay hindi po costume na sinusuot nalang bigla pagdating ng eleksyon: it is a lifelong struggle in a world steeped with deep hatred and exclusion of our community,” she said in a statement.
So, why are the likes of LGBT Pilipinas supporting this VP bet? The group’s national president Dindi Tan said in the event that with their choice, the group wants to “push for policy continuity.”
After becoming more wary of performativity in politics during the pandemic, we’re not looking for token LGBTQIA+ leaders anymore. Representation matters, but that needs to go hand in hand with the commitment to aggressively push for policies like the SOGIESC-based Anti-Discrimination Act and the legalization of same-sex marriage or civil unions.
We’ve yet to see a queer president and vice president. But we’re hoping that all the candidates are at least educated on SOGIE and key LGBTQIA+ issues. Instead of flowery speeches, we’re basing our vote on their own platforms and track record, as well as their understanding of the queer struggle—whether they’re part of the community or not. Who do you think can best represent the interests of the LGBTQIA+?