Being Queer is Indigenous
Queerness in Filipino Indigenous communities has been traditionally viewed in a positive light in the roles of shamans, healers, and spiritual leaders. These individuals are seen as having a duality that represents balance and is a bridge to connect the earth with the divine.
In these communities, queer individuals have the capacity to embody feminine or masculine energies from the spiritual realm, which are manifested through the tone of their chants and movements. The idea of duality is not limited to gender but also extends to the balance of nature, the spiritual and physical realms, and the complementary energies that exist in the universe.
Being queer was never an issue to Indigenous communities in the Philippines. The categorization of gender is a Western construct that was introduced during the colonial period. Prior to this, gender roles were more fluid and flexible, and individuals were not defined solely by their biological sex.
Today, we continue to see the impact of colonialism on the Filipinx LGBTQ+ community. Many queer Filipinx face discrimination and marginalization, particularly in urban areas where Western ideals of gender and sexuality have taken hold. However, the traditional acceptance of queerness in Indigenous communities serves as a powerful reminder that gender and sexuality are not static but rather fluid and multifaceted.
Queer individuals in Filipinx Indigenous communities continue to play important roles in modern society as healers, artists, and cultural leaders. Their unique perspectives and experiences bring joy and color to the world, reminding us that diversity is a strength to be celebrated, that fluidity is an ancestral knowledge. As we work towards creating a more inclusive society, we can learn from the examples set by Indigenous communities and their acceptance of queerness as a natural and positive aspect of human experience.
Image by Guerrilla Pump, Styled by: Elle Karayan, Model: Larry Mallari