June 30, 2020 (9:23 PM)

3 min read

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PRIDE IN ARMOR. SALEM and Ateneo Libulan Circle with keynote speaker, Mr. Jesus Montajes, hold an online webinar, “The Queer in Times of Dissent: A Peek on Gay Discourse” discussing the realities of the everyday lives of LGBTQIA+ community members in the Philippines, June 29. Photo taken from @jess_montajes Twitter page

Closing this year’s World Pride Month, a webinar titled “The Queer in Times of Dissent: A Peek on Gay Discourse” organized by the Society of Ateneo Literature and English Mavens (SALEM) in partnership with the Ateneo Libulan Circle was held yesterday highlighting the value of resilience as a form of dissent.

The said webinar discussed the concepts of queer resilience among the LGBTQ+ community members in the context of Mindanao through a short story analysis of a Carlos Palanca Award-winning piece, John Bengan’s”Armor”.

Mr. Jesus Montajes, Ateneo Culture and Arts Cluster (ACAC) Head and the webinar’s lead discussant, explained that queer resilience is a term that pertains to “the flexible yet empowering mindset of having a holistic development in adapting to a society with their identity.”

“If you have empowered yourself, you are conditioned that you are like that as long as you fully grasp the changes holistically within you,” Montajes noted.

The ACAC Head shared that Bengan’s “Armor” challenges the misconceptions of gender expression and self-visibility with the situations on gay pageantry, as manifested in the plot of the said story.

‘Armor’ revolves around Ronnie, a gay individual with talents in arts and a complicit shabu user who found hope through joining a Miss Gay pageant on a gymnasium in Mintal.

As stated by Montajes, Ronnie’s creativity is evident in the story. The protagonist took jobs relating to arts which include becoming a choreographer, makeup artist, designer, and a pageant beauty queen.

Montajes pointed out that the main character’s participation in the public and private sphere as a gay pageant contestant and his dedication in showcasing his creative side as an artist sends ‘a strong message of visibility for the LGBT community,’

These aspects, according to Montajes, make Ronnie ‘a gay character that manifests empowerment’.

Montajes added that the protagonist exemplifies dissent by still exercising his agency despite the terror brought by the Davao Death Squad to drug users.

“Hence, Ronnie’s life is a matter of choice: his complicity to drugs even with the presence of the Davao Death Squad and his queer resilience through creativity and gay pageantry to the state apparatus,” Montajes said.

Hannah Marie Yarso, Business and Management Representative and a participant of the said webinar, shared the prevalent discrimination to the LGBT+ community and recognized the main character’s impact in facing these challenges.

“The LGBTQIA+ community [is still] surrounded by discrimination. Even within the community, there is discrimination.” Yarso shared.

“But as what Ronnie did, he used [his] ‘otherness’ to stand out from the disjunctive society that he lived in. To make this happen, there will be a lot of battles to conquer including stereotypes and discrimination,” she added.



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