The LGBTQ Community + Allies Respond To The Couples For Christ Foundation For Family And Life Statement On The Ateneo Pride March

Let's #ResistTogether.
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Just recently, Ateneo De Manila University celebrated the passing of the Ateneo-Loyola Schools Gender Policy. Back in March, the Catholic university celebrated with #OneBigPride their second ever Pride March. (The first one was held in 2014, organized by Ateneo PEERS and UP Babaylan.)

However, the Couples for Christ Foundation for Family and Life (CFC-FFL) did not think this was appropriate. In a statement released on June 19, 2019, they said, "Genders are social constructs…These have no basis in nature and reality" and "The LGBT Pride message and its celebration of homosexuality are contrary to the Catholic faith and thus injurious to the faithful, especially the young."

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The Sanggunian ng mga Paaralang Loyola ng Ateneo de Manila posted their response to CFC-FFL, but the rest of the LGBTQ community and allies also had some strong feelings about the statement.

Missy Maramara

Assistant Professor, actor, director; pansexual

COURTESY OF MISSY MARAMARA
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Their logic is full of slippery slopes and hasty generalizations.

God never deteriorates, and accepting the LGBTQ+ community means bringing them closer to God. Discriminating against them means being the barrier against God and His people. "Cast the first stone" is what [they've] done, and sinned in the process. As for immoral (un)dress and behavior, how is it immoral to be one's self as God made us?

If gender inclusivity and acceptance of LGBT were taught to grade school children, then fewer children would be bullied and persecuted at such a young age. As for drag queen story hours in libraries: I don't see what's wrong with costume and makeup and fabulousness and fun. Hatred should never be tolerated. Laws should protect everyone against hate.

Freedom of speech is a basic human right. So is education. And so are love and acceptance.

If the LGBTQ+ community isn't discriminated against, then why are you telling them not to celebrate who they are? Why are you pushing that there be no laws to protect them? Why can't they enjoy the same privileges you do?

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As a professor, my role is to provide students with a safe environment where they can thrive. I have been surrounded by loving and supportive Catholics and Christians my whole life and brought up with faith and love. My faith and love will not falter in the face of fear and hatred, and I will allow the marginalized to feel safe in the community where I work. I will offer the queer community the same benefits of self-expression as any other stout heteronormative. Freedom of speech is a basic human right. So is education. And so are love and acceptance.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros

Mother, senator, Atenean

COURTESY OF SEN. RISA HONTIVEROS
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RESPECT, YES; PRIDE, YES; COMPASSION, YES; CELEBRATION, YES!

As an Atenean and a mother, I join my spirit and voice with the hope, strength, and common good advocated by One Big Pride, an expression of charity and acceptance for the LGBTQIA+ community.

Genders are social constructs. It is both a lived and socio-cultural experience, a personal definition of oneself. Gender is not binary but comes in a spectrum. It is a lived and everyday reality. Genders are part of how we are "born this way," with every basis in nature.

Homosexuality is no longer classified by the medical community as disordered. The wide range of human sexuality is part of a spectrum of emotions and acts of attraction, love, and pleasure through which we human beings appreciate, reciprocate, and participate in the beauty of creation.

Denying a person's God-given identity and demonizing expressions of love are harmful to us faithful, especially to our children. To deny the stigma and discrimination that LGBTQIA+ persons continue to suffer in the Philippines, and which have made the passage of the SOGIE Equality Bill all the more needed, is to turn a blind eye to human suffering. To do so is contrary to the Catholic faith that bids us to uphold human dignity and to love one another as He has loved us.

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As an alumna, I thank the Ateneo, our alma mater, for remaining faithful to and continuing to make our Catholic (universal) education more inclusive, raising strong human beings, humanists, spiritual, Filipino.

Marco Sumayao

Writer and sex comedian: Deus Sex Machina; straight

COURTESY OF MARCO SUMAYAO

How do I feel about this statement? Honestly, I worry about their kids. They think that gender inclusivity lessons and LGBT acceptance being taught in elementary school is a *harmful* effect of Pride? Since when did kids learning to be nicer become a bad thing? Is treating people as equals meant to be excluded from GMRC classes?

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If anything, it's these adults who need better education. The statement is misinformed on so many levels, from asserting that homosexuality isn't normal to insisting that transgender women are still men.

The people behind it need to swallow their pride (pun intended) and accept that their views are wrong. They need to realize that their "tough love" rhetoric—which indirectly promotes hate speech and intolerance—causes unwarranted emotional, mental, and physical harm to LGBTQIA+ people. They need to accept that their denial of valid human identities contributes to the wrong notion that LGBTQIA+ individuals are lesser people. It's incredibly, ironically un-Christ-like.

But I don't think online outrage alone is the answer. While outrage serves a purpose in alerting people to the problem, it also distracts from the more important matter of finding a solution. Worse, it tends to make people double down on their convictions, rather than open themselves up to learning.

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We can try to stop making the hate cyclical. We shouldn't keep responding to hate speech with hate of our own, even if it does express the pain their words have caused. As people who aren’t stuck in the same sociocultural bubble, it’s our responsibility to pop them out of it.

If intolerance finds its roots in a lack of understanding, then we have to take it upon ourselves to educate the intolerant. We need to talk to these people and show them the harm they're causing; how many people are suffering and dying because of bigotry. And if they don't want to listen, we need to find ways to make them listen.

I hear Pride events are a good start.

Denice De Guzman

Catscratch Club pop up events founder and podcaster; former member of Youth for Christ

Courtesy of Denice De Guzman
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The problem with these kinds of statements is that they claim to be speaking with truth, but the statement itself is full of biased opinions. It hurt, personally, because it was a statement made by a big organization with massive reach, and they are peddling lies.

I think we need to resist even more. I would totally be down to attend or organize Drag Queen Story Hours to teach kids about compassion. And now that they mention it, we should totally pass legislation penalizing hate speech, because denying people of their identity IS hate speech.

Alphonse Nazario

Graduate of BS Psychology 2016, Ateneo de Manila University

Courtesy of Alphonse Nazario
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At first, I felt incredibly disappointed and frustrated with the statement. I felt it was an attack on my humanity and on what the sexual and gender minorities community stands for. The statement could have been an opportunity for them to learn about the lives and experience of individuals in the community, but they used their statement instead to spread negativity.

Upon repeated reading of the statement, I realized that these members are Christians. As Christians, they are supposed to embody the teachings and ways of Jesus Christ. Christ was a listener, and he worked on the ground by immersing himself with different members of the community, like prostitutes and tax sinners.

In the same way, the CFC, as an institution, should veer away from this attitude, and instead ask what we are experiencing and what can be done, not just to stop discrimination, but also to stop the abuse and the killings of our community members, like Jennifer Laude. It is not just a matter of the sexual and gender community living their expressed lives, but also a matter of life or death. They present themselves as a family-oriented Christian community, so CFC should be inclusive and welcoming of others' ideas and opinions, and not be an exclusive community of members who cannot accept different identities. Think about how parents cannot accept their gay sons and lesbian daughters; this is unbecoming of an ideal and inclusive family.

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Reese Calimbas

Student; non-binary

This statement is very close-minded, and I think it tries to put limits on what universities like Ateneo are teaching. The Pride March was a plea that society be more accepting and open-minded towards the different kinds of people around us, but this is exactly what the statement of the CFC contradicts.

I personally believe acceptance plays a big role in supporting the LGBT community. For those who are Catholic, I think it's important to understand God's message of love and acceptance of the people on Earth, no matter who they are.

Hanah Camille Faraon

Writer, media practitioner, front desk receptionist; genderqueer/gender neutral

Courtesy of Hanah Camille Faraon
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My younger self would have been offended and hurt by the CFC-FFL statement. However, over time, I have come to terms with the fact that in most cases, bigotry is a result of ignorance. Most of the time, this ignorance is also coupled with a huge ego that keeps people from seeing things from a different perspective. They simply don't want to accept other people's points of view and refuse to admit that they may be wrong about something. These days, statements like it make me laugh. I also feel sorry for people who make them.

How can you respect and have compassion for individuals you refuse to understand? How can you say that you respect and have compassion for individuals, but at the same time, regard their very existence unnatural?

Their statement should have been: "Respect, No; Pride, No; Compassion, No; Celebration, No." How can you respect and have compassion for individuals you refuse to understand? How can you say that you respect and have compassion for individuals, but at the same time, regard their very existence unnatural?

Gender is not a social construct. Sex and gender are also two different things (and sexuality is an entirely different thing from sex and gender). While I agree that gender roles are a social construct brought about by a patriarchal ideology, I truly believe (and there have been studies that prove this) that gender identity is not. I would like to encourage people to really get to know us without any preconceived judgment. It's the best way to understand someone. If you know any members of the LGBTQIA+ community, particularly transgender individuals, get to know them and you'd realize that gender identity, expression, and sexuality are very complex. They go beyond social construct.

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Homosexuality is not disordered and not contrary to the natural law. If it goes against the natural law, how can it exist in 450 species? Homophobia only exists in one. Which one is unnatural now? Also, before Christian intervention, Native Americans saw gender fluidity as a gift from the gods and acknowledged five genders. The Bugis people of pre-Islam and pre-Christianity Indonesia also have something similar: They also acknowledged five genders as an integral part of their culture. Some research also show that similar traditions were evident in Thailand, Malaysia, India, and Bangladesh. Homosexuality is also not considered a sin in Thai Buddhism.

And finally, the LGBTQIA+ community is not well-accepted in the Philippines. It is just tolerated. We are continually discriminated against and persecuted (not just in the Philippines, but across the globe). You just don't hear about such incidents. Why? Shame, because of the discrimination, and fear of further persecution. Furthermore, we are discriminated against and persecuted because of the norms that were set by a patriarchal society (which, btw, is a social construct). If you truly support the LGBT Community, get educated and be informed.

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PJ Punla

Call center professional; queer

Courtesy of PJ Punla

I'm really not a fan of an organization that would say, "Stop this thing that we claim is terrible and bad and not conforming to our beliefs! Won't somebody stop and think of the children!" They impose their version of belief and they don't have the compassion or the foresight to consider, maybe *love* works? They claim to spread love, but that statement has none at all.

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Love as best exemplified by words like acceptance and compassion and support. That's all that's needed really. And to the people who still have no idea why Pride is needed, please be kind enough to educate yourselves.

Eva Callueng

Teacher

Courtesy of Eva Callueng

At first, I was amused that they only now reacted to the Pride March that happened last March 15, 2019. But as I read their statement, I was saddened by the fact that there are members of the Catholic Church who choose to remain antagonistic towards LGBTQIA+.

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I am saddened by the fact that there are still those who would use their beliefs to discriminate and undermine the lives and love of LGBTQIA+ Catholics. As a member of Rainbow Catholics Philippines, an organization that works for the affirmation, inclusion, dignity, and equality of the LGBTQIA+ community within the Roman Catholic Church and civil society, we believe that actions like these are contrary to what Jesus taught us, which is to love one another.

Instead of drawing lines and releasing statements that push people further away from the Church, we should be more accepting of one another, as Jesus was accepting. Love is at the core of our faith, neither judgmental nor selective but unconditional. Jesus tells us to love one another; Jesus did not judge nor condemn anyone. We should follow Jesus' example.

In fact, I agree with one part of the CFC-FFL statement: We, too, call on all Catholic schools to return to the very nature of the Catholic education, which is to teach students how to live their lives the way Jesus did, by showing love and compassion towards others. Maybe if we are true to the very nature of our Catholic Faith, we would be more accepting of everyone. After all, even Pope Francis said it, who are we to judge?

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Jill Fernandez

Research associate and part-time SHS teacher; lesbian-queer

The statement given by the organization is alarming and disappointing. I am a firm believer that as Catholics, love is the greatest testament of our faith. As an organization "for Christ," their disrespect and condemnation of the LGBT community is  contradictory to what they claim to pursue.

We must highlight the need for equal rights. Support the passage of non-discriminatory and gender-sensitive legislation. Give adequate support mechanisms to the LGBT community. Acceptance and respect should be applied not only in celebrations, but in all social, cultural, and political aspects of society.

Ings Isungga

Visual designer, artist, performer, events head; gay

Courtesy of Ings Isungga
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The statement is hurtful, dated, and wrong, but not surprising. Religious institutions have been using fear-mongering for forever, and this statement is just another example of that. And they conveniently ignore the fact that homosexuality has not been classified as a disorder for over three decades now.

On their Facebook post, they tried to deflect the negative comments by saying, "We're glad that this is turning into a discussion." If they really wanted a discussion, the statement would have been more welcoming and they would not have demonized [us]. If they really wanted a discussion, they would have updated their way of thinking and stopped using the Old Testament to justify bigotry. They would also be unafraid of homosexuality becoming a norm, of kids learning about gender sensitivity and inclusion, of drag queens reading stories, and of legislation penalizing hate speech. They would also not brand our transgendered brothers and sisters as invaders. The hate in this statement is ghastly. They say that the LGBTQIA+ in the country are "accepted, not tolerated," yet they say these things.

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Instead of telling us we shouldn't be who we are, maybe they can get to know us and understand us, and not hate us for who we are. We are all navigating a world that—for one reason or another—hates us, homosexual or not. We should stop spreading hate.

Mikee "Mutya" de la Peña

Full-time NGO worker working in child and adolescent health and welfare, part-time law student; proudly gay

Courtesy of Mikee de la Peña
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The capacity of the members of the LGBT community to participate effectively in nation-building is facilitated by their capacity to express themselves without condemnation, especially from any religious organization. As a member of the LGBT community and a development worker, I find the statement of CFC-FFL disheartening. This is disheartening because we choose to hate rather than to love. This kind of generalization views the LGBT community as less human.  But this is wrong. LGBT are like anyone else; they play a role in our development as a nation, and they, too, have rights. 

My faith teaches me to love, to be inclusive, to forgive, and not to judge. My faith did not teach me to label my brethren as inferior, as second-class citizens. 

But to fight back with hate and wrath is also wrong. My faith teaches me to love, to be inclusive, to forgive, and not to judge. My faith did not teach me to label my brethren as inferior, as second-class citizens. The real genius of being an LGBT, for me, is our ability to expect a rainbow after a heavy rain.

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We must focus on working together because we are stronger together. As a community, we need to shift the conversation from highlighting gays as divergent; instead, we must focus on emphasizing that gays are humans, and they deserve the rights and all the guarantees our country has to offer. 

Instead of attacking these religious institutions, we need to start the revolution on the ground: one day at a time, one door at a time, one friend at a time.

For my fellow LGBT members, we must remain strong and steadfast, as a community, to emphasize that being different does not translate to immorality.

Talia Ruiz

Working in IT, geekery, and equality advocacy; bisexual

I've gotten to the point where I don't really expect religious people to be very compassionate or politically correct anymore, and this is standard for most religious groups. Beyond my jadedness, I look back fondly on my years going to UP Pride Marches as a university student and enjoying how much safer I felt there compared to public pride marches. Universities should be a space where young people can be free to explore and express without fearing judgment, and I worry about how younger LGBT folks will be affected by statements like this. Events hosted in universities are normally considered safer spaces, and to have a university pride march attacked like this can be really disheartening, especially to LGBT Ateneans.

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In Pride Marches, I really appreciated the parents and religious people who would come out to give hugs and love to the marchers. I think that there is power in letting people know you're an ally, like how most Pride Marches will have a section for allies nearing the end of the parade. More recently, a viral video of pastors showing support to the LGBT came out and they discussed their journeys, going from bigoted and homophobic to gradually seeing beyond what they were taught and appreciating the statements of love and understanding even within the bible. Hopefully, this can show people that there is a way to reconcile their beliefs and the acceptance of the LGBT community.

At the end of the day, we're all people who deserve acceptance and the freedom to be as we are.

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