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TikTok spotlights LGBTQIA+ content creators’ personal journeys

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THROUGH the influential short-form video platform TikTok, perspectives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex, asexual plus (LGBTQIA+) Filipinos are now more visible in public. As a fitting end to Pride Month, five TikTok content creators laid out their life stories for more members of the community to hear and learn from.

Chrishanna Austria, known for her viral phrase “Forda Ferson” (for the person), is one of these social media personalities. It is the judgment of others that keeps one from living their true self, she said at the TikTok Pride Monologues, held on June 27 at The Fort Strip in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.

“Marihap kapag hindi tanggap ng magulang (It’s difficult when your parents can’t accept it),” she explained, which happened after they discovered her early trauma with men and her first same-sex relationship in high school.

With acceptance being a process, Ms. Austria pointed out the gradual approval of her family of the six-year relationship she has had with her current girlfriend. They have a large community supporting them.

For Dan Laudit, a gay content creator known as “Mentor” for his entertaining and satirical videos, it took a long time to shed the Filipino belief that gays were weak.

“Dati kapag sinasabihan ka ng bakla, mahina ka. Tumatak sa akin iyon kaya tinatanggi ko pa (Back then, if people called you gay, it meant you’re weak. It left an impact on me so I would deny it),” he said.

He added that sexual orientation and gender identity and expression (SOGIE) is something to discover and “not something that should burden you.” Mr. Laudit found that it takes self-confidence and a strong support system to work through it.

Licensed psychologist Riyan Portuguez, who champions mental health awareness on TikTok under the moniker “Your Millennial Psychologist,” is another pillar of the online lesbian community. She recently partnered with the government’s ongoing “Rise Up” mental health program.

Suppression and denial are common coping mechanisms for young LGBTQ+ people who feel they need to excel at school or their talents to compensate for “being different,” she said at the forum.

“There are ‘conditions of worth’ that we use to prove that we deserve respect despite being who we are,” said Ms. Portuguez. “It’s a type of internalized homophobia. But we should know that we are enough, without having to compensate or prove ourselves.”

Sharing a similar view was Tots Carlos, a lesbian volleyball player who suffered the judgment of her family back in high school. It was in college that she finally felt that her value was “not diminished because of sexuality.”

“A support system is a major part of it, so I always try to surround myself with the right people,” Ms. Carlos explained.

Meanwhile, for those who are LGBTQ+ but have a more straight-passing gender expression, being true to oneself is a continuous process, said TikTok content creator Warren Daniel Osinago, known online as “Poca.”

“You don’t have to find who you are right now. You can work at your own pace, even if you’re surrounded by friends who are out. Be comfortable and celebrate while in the closet, still discovering yourself,” he said.

In agreement with Ms. Portuguez’s insights on shedding “suppression and denial,” the panel ended with a message of solidarity. “We can embrace being LGBTQIA+ together,” said Mr. Osinaga.

The five TikTok Pride representatives can be found at these handles: @chrishannaustria, @danlaudit, @yourmillennialpsych, and @totscarlos_, @warrendanielosinaga. — Brontë H. Lacsamana

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