“Love is what matters; gender is not important.” – US Ambassador Harry K. Thomas Jr.

We are all different, but we must embrace and respect our differences. We must come together through the very emotion that makes us human: love. – US Ambassador Harry K. Thomas Jr .at at the LGBT Pride Month Reception

A dinner reception was hosted by US Ambassador Henry K. Thomas Jr. on June 14 in honor of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month in the USA. President Barrack Obama proclaimed June 2011 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month.

The US administration is taking steps to engage with LGBT communities even outside the USA.

The message is clear. The Ambassador started off his speech with “I am gay..I am gay”, that one should not be ashamed to say if one is gay, or lesbian:

Magandang gabi sa inyong ang lahat!

I am gay.

I am gay.

I am gay.

Three little words.

Six letters.

Three syllables.

It is not a phrase that trips the tongue. It is not a phrase that should take lifetimes to utter.

But my friends, these are some of the hardest words in the English language—in any language—for many of our friends, colleagues, and family members.

And this should not stand.

Our loved ones, our friends and our colleagues fear expressing their sexuality, condemned instead to a lifetime of anxiety and repression.

This should not be.

They are our brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers. Aunts and uncles.

Sons.

Daughters.

These are not nameless, faceless members of a foreign or forgotten race. They are our families and our friends. And they are scared to be who they are.

They fear expressing their sexuality. They cannot tell their own loved ones who they really are. And I regret that there are those even in our Embassy community who fear coming out and expressing their true selves.

Why? Because instead of expressing our love for all human beings, we choose instead to ostracize and exclude.

This will not continue.

Tonight, coming here together in this house for the first time, we are breaking new ground. It should give us pause to reflect how LGBT persons across the world, in every country, from every culture, are breaking new ground every day, and breaking courageously through the barriers that hold them back. As Saint Teresa of Avila once said, “To have courage for whatever comes in life — everything lies in that.”

Yet even with courage, many of us still struggle to overcome prejudices driven by factors no human can control: the color of our skin, the expression of our gender, and the nature of our sexuality. While these prejudices are very real to us, many in the world can never understand.

And the reaction by that world to those struggling with such prejudice is both disappointing and disheartening: “You are imagining things,” they say. “It’s not as bad as you say it is, and if it is, it’s not my fault.”

That one’s core being can be such an affront to others is one of the greatest tragedies of humankind.

It is a tragedy not only because of the pain and suffering it causes, but because it prevents people from doing, being, and becoming their best. Sa diskriminasyon, maraming likas na galing at talino ang nasasayang.

Discrimination based on difference, whether it’s age, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion, is wrong. It deprives society of some of its most creative and productive members; it demoralizes communities. It shatters families.

It is not acceptable, and it should not be tolerated.

The ambitious spirit of the Philippines’ LGBT community will no doubt carry it over these and other challenges. Americans know from centuries of experience that the march against discrimination and prejudice is long and difficult, and sometimes it feels never-ending.

But we also know that every step forward makes life a little better here and now — and most certainly for future generations who will look back and marvel at the sacrifices and advances you all made, wondering at how you managed to accomplish so much.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am not tonight asking you to leave shouting that you are gay; I am not asking you to endanger yourselves in the face of other peoples’ hatred and blindness. But I am asking you leave this place on this night with one thought and one goal: to protect and love someone. Love is what matters; gender is not important.

In his Gay Pride Month proclamation, President Obama called upon Americans to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists, and to celebrate our great diversity. Those are goals worthy of all people, everywhere, and I hope all of you here tonight will join me in their pursuit.

We are all different, but we must embrace and respect our differences. We must come together through the very emotion that makes us human: love.

Bakla ako.

Tomboy ako.

Bakla kayo.

Tomboy kayo.

Pero lahat tayo ay tao.

Maraming salamat po.

There has been so much discrimination on the basis of gender identity and bullying on young LGBT kids. President Obama adds that ” No one should be harmed because of who they are or who they love, and my Administration has mobilized unprecedented public commitments from countries around the world to join in the fight against hate and homophobia.”

Concrete steps have been taken by the Obama administration for their fellow Americans.

First , they are working to address and eliminate violence against LGBT individuals through the enforcement and implementation of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

Secondly, they are working to reduce the threat of bullying against young people, including LGBT youth.

Third, the Obama Administration is actively engaged with educators and community leaders across America to reduce violence and discrimination in schools. To help dispel the myth that bullying is a harmless or inevitable part of growing up, the First Lady and President Obama hosted the first White House Conference on Bullying Prevention in March. Many senior Administration officials have also joined President Obama in reaching out to LGBT youth who have been bullied by recording “It Gets Better” video messages to assure them they are not alone.

As part of the It Gets Better Project, President Obama shares his message of hope and support for LGBT youth who are struggling with being bullied.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers a message to the LGBT community that “Tomorrow Will Be Better,” at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., October 19, 2010.

President Obama added that they recognize LGBT rights are human rights. His Administration stands with advocates of equality around the world in leading the fight against pernicious laws targeting LGBT persons and malicious attempts to exclude LGBT organizations from full participation in the international system.

We led a global campaign to ensure “sexual orientation” was included in the United Nations resolution on extrajudicial execution — the only United Nations resolution that specifically mentions LGBT people — to send the unequivocal message that no matter where it occurs, state-sanctioned killing of gays and lesbians is indefensible. No one should be harmed because of who they are or who they love, and my Administration has mobilized unprecedented public commitments from countries around the world to join in the fight against hate and homophobia.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in the Philippines have a distinctive culture but limited legal rights. Gays and lesbians are generally tolerated, if not accepted, within Filipino society, but there is still widespread discrimination. ” Bullying in Philippine schools is now taken seriously by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) but the government has no specific laws to combat bullying in schools.

The Philippines can certainly learn a thing or two from the proclamation of LGBT Pride month in the US.

Noemi Lardizabal-Dado is a Content Strategist with over 11 years experience in blogging, content management, citizen advocacy and online media publishing and over 21 years in web development. Otherwise known as @MomBlogger on social media, she believes in making a difference in the lives of her children by advocating social change for social good.

She is a co-founder and a member of the editorial board of Blog Watch . She is a resource speaker on social media , blogging, digital citizenship, good governance, transparency, parenting, women’s rights and wellness, and cyber safety.

Her personal blogs such as aboutmyrecovery.com (parenting) , pinoyfoodblog.com (recipes), techiegadgets.com (gadgets) and beautyoverfifty.net (lifestyle) keep her busy outside of Blog Watch.

Disclosure:

She was a Senior Consultant for ALL media engagements for the PCOO-led Committee on Media Affairs & Strategic Communications (CMASC) under the ASEAN 2017 National Organizing Council from January 4 -July 5, 2017. Having been an ASEAN advocate since 2011, she has written extensively about the benefits of the ASEAN community and as a region of opportunities on Blog Watch and aboutmyrecovery.com.

Organization affiliation includes Scrap Pork Network. I do not support or belong to any political party . Family friends with House Representative Pia Cayetano and Former Senator Alan P. Cayetano. I did not vote for any presidential candidate in the 2016 elections.

Updated July 30, 2017

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