I am a shy person, and I would find it hard to express myself in fear of being judged. I feared that if I came out, I would be rejected by my family. This really deterred me from coming out. This was normal in The Philippines where there are so many stories of families turning their backs on their children because they are gay.
My coming out was emotional for everyone in the family, but I was relieved to know that they support and love me regardless. Knowing that I have a support group really helped me accept myself fully and understand my sexuality. I felt that a heavy burden was lifted since coming out, and I could stop hiding. My confidence comes from my family’s acceptance. It helps me face the world and not care what strangers think of me.
Philippines is a largely Catholic country. In the past, during Pride Month parades, religious groups demonstrated against the LGBTQ+ community. It’s hard to believe, but using the word “gay” as an insult is still a thing in Philippines. Coming out used to not be an option – people feared being disowned and hated by family and friends.
While things are slowly changing in our society, there are still people who think that if you’re gay you’re a lesser person. This is where our allies come in. They help us communicate what it feels like to be discriminated against, they help us educate people who don’t understand our community, providing them with the basic knowledge they need to become more supportive. My ideal ally is someone who empathizes and understands the struggles of the LGBTQ+ community.
The Amdocs Philippines LGBTQ+ community is very small. In spite of our small numbers, we can all be open as Amdocs is an accepting and inclusive work environment. I don’t personally experience any discrimination at work, but there’s still room for improvement, especially in the area of pronouns. Calling someone “he” when they look like a girl and go by the pronoun “she”, can be very offensive. I try to explain wherever possible that people are sensitive and should be respected for the pronouns they identify themselves with.
Amdocs is a place where I can grow as a person and as a professional, and feel comfortable about who I am. It’s a workplace that’s open to the LGBTQ+ community and to freedom of expression. It’s the supportive respectful people around me who make me proud in so many ways.
For some members of our LGBTQ+ community, Pride Month activities are more than just fun events. It’s a real sign of change in The Philippines that Pride Marches are being held here, and we’re starting to be accepted. Some members of the community at Amdocs Philippines are still in the closet and don’t want to expose themselves (no judgement!). Seeing the activities at Amdocs Philippines in particular, and at Amdocs around the world in general, gives them more confidence and makes them feel better about themselves. It may not seem obvious to most people, but the attention given to our community during Pride Month at Amdocs can change lives.
Martin Louis Ebarle