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Pinay.com | January 24, 2018

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So What If I'm Queer? I Am Proud of It |Pinay.com

So What If I’m Queer? I Am Proud of It
M.T. Vallarta

I first encountered the identity of “queer” as a first year in college. I attended a meeting for one of the Filipino organizations on campus, and one of the coordinators introduced his program as a “space for queer Filipinos.” I was surprised to hear that term. In high school, the term “queer” was used to insult or tease those who were or looked gay. I learned it was derogatory—offensive—and didn’t know it could be used to identify oneself. I had no idea “queer” was a term of reclamation—of resistance—a way to empower those who identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and many more.

Queerness, along with the love and support of other queer individuals and spaces, has helped me accept, embrace, and find pride in my identity as a bisexual Pinay, as a queer woman of color. Queerness is more than a sexual orientation. It is a community, a movement, a process for self-reflection and transformation.

However, queerness is not without its tribulations. For a while, I struggled with identifying as queer because I thought I did not fit in with the term. For one thing, almost everyone I encountered in queer spaces were men. As a woman of color, it was uncomfortable to be in these spaces, especially when I heard sexist and patriarchal comments. Some queer men think they are exempt from upholding patriarchy because of their sexual orientation, but the fact that they dominate the queer movement and make such comments is proof that many queer spaces have not been inclusive to women.

Secondly, I don’t look “queer” at all. Right now, my hair is long. I wear make-up. I love wearing skirts and dresses. I don’t look like the standard, masculine, queer, tomboy woman. Because of my appearance, I have been called a “fake.” “Confused.” Just “pretending.” Not really, truly “queer.”

Although this exclusion left me feeling angry and bitter for some time, these reactions made me realize how important it was for queer women—specifically queer Filipino women—to create their own spaces, to have conversations that center the struggle and experience of the queer Pinay while providing support, healing, and friendship.

As a second-generation Filipina-American, I understand why queerness is difficult to comprehend and accept. I don’t have many conversations with my family about it and even among my friends, sexuality is an unspoken issue.

However, having these difficult conversations will ensure that these issues will be brought to the forefront. That queer Pinay women will no longer be ignored, and that those who identify as feminine—or femme—will no longer have their identities disregarded or made invisible.

I have found these spaces. I have been nourished by these spaces. I have found strength, courage, and self-acceptance, thanks to the people I encountered in these spaces. Community is essential for self-love and self-growth. Because of this community, I now feel pride in identifying as queer. It is just another part of me, one more unique thing for me to love.

Queerness is more than an umbrella term for the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community. It is an identity—an experience, a community of beautiful, unique, and resilient individuals.

I know I was born a queer Pinay for a reason, and I believe that reason is to embrace and find the beauty in difference. I want to encourage others to do the same. I want everyone to find that sparkle, those special things that make them shine. It may be a struggle but the world is all the more beautiful as a queer Pinay.

"I am a proud queer Pinay femme," says our author, M.T. Vallarta.

“I am a proud queer Pinay femme,” says our author, M.T. Vallarta.

Sparkle and Shine Like Maria!

  • Embrace yourself.
  • Being Filipina is a gift.
  • Brave the darkness & flip negativity on its head.
  • Divisiveness—unsubscribe.
  • Learn, change, grow.
  • Trust the process of Life.
  • Smile and laugh.
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Maria Vallarta is an incoming Ph.D student from Los Angeles, California. She was editor at {m}aganda Magazine. You can read more about her in her blog Sampaguita Girl. All images are courtesy of the author, except one with credit noted.

 

M.T. Vallarta

M.T. Vallarta is a Ph.D. student from Los Angeles, CA. She received her undergraduate education at the University of California, Berkeley, where she double majored in English and Asian American Studies. While at Cal, she was an editor of {m}aganda Magazine and was heavily involved in student of color groups and community organizing spaces. She identifies strongly as a scholar-activist, and hopes to produce scholarship that directly impacts and benefits the very communities she serves. When not blogging, writing, or studying, she enjoys reading, playing video games, drinking tea, and eating good food.

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