To be gay in the NPA
When I was young, my father always wanted me to enlist in the military hoping to get rid of the gay in me. Now that I am grown-up—still gay as ever—his wish was fulfilled. However, I became a soldier in a different army, a better one. I’m a Red fighter of the NPA.”
Ka Oliver is among many gay and lesbian comrades who embraced the revolutionary armed struggle in the countryside. He likes to joke when he recalls his childhood and struggles of growing up homosexual in a conservative family. But when he explains what he stands for, he is serious and determined.
“The only way the LGBTQ community can find liberation from gender oppression is by ending class oppression.” For him, the Filipino LGBTQ struggle should encompass the struggle to dismantle the semi-colonial and semi-feudal conditions of Philippine society that breeds and perpetuates oppression, discrimination, and fascist persecution not only of the LGBTQ community but all oppressed classes.
Before joining the NPA, Oliver’s notion of “gay pride” was heavily influenced by bourgeois and post-modernist ideas centered on individualism, and detached from social realities of class struggle. Back then, his understanding was limited to pride and self-acceptance devoid of the material conditions and structures that deny people—gay or not—their democratic rights. “How can we have ‘pride’ when we are deprived of education, when we are exploited, when we cannot feed our families, or when we are being driven away from our land and our only means of living?” he said.
Ka Oliver believes that being a “woke” gay means firmly grasping the universal truths of the national democratic struggle beyond gender identity politics. “We should unite with other classes and sectors against a common enemy. Gay or not, we are all victimized by imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism,” he said. Gay fighter
Living as a gay revolutionary in the countryside has its extra challenges, but for Ka Oliver, the fact that the CPP and the NPA respect and support the LGBTQ community spells the difference.
Once in a while, he experiences vestiges of discrimination and patriarchal notions, although not as vicious and systemic as those which he experienced before joining the the revolutionary movement. “Years in the NPA have tempered me enough to know that these comments are generally not expressed to hurt or embarrass me. Often, these come from the one-sided and demeaning representation of gay people in the mass media. Some others are also just genuinely concern over the welfare of a “soft-mannered petty-bourgeois.”
To counter myopic views, Ka Oliver actively engages in discussions to challenge gender stereotypes.
“As members of the LGBTQ community, we must not remain as passive receivers of acceptance. Instead of waiting for the masses to accept us, we must go to them directly and share our experiences and struggles. We can learn firsthand about their struggles and find commonalities.”
Oliver is confident that prejudices of some comrades and the masses on gays can be corrected through constant education, proletarian remolding, and criticism and self-criticism. He himself still struggles to reject the individualist and liberal bourgeois ideas of so-called “gay pride,” which he has come to realize are being exploited by the ruling class to maintain the status quo, and gloss over the true roots of society’s biases against the community.
“In terms of relationships, my generation is also being fed the notion that ‘pride’ means being able to engage in anarchic sexual encounters with multiple partners, with no compunction about its consequences. Inside the movement, the Party’s policy on courtship and marriage aims to ensure that women and sexual minorities are protected from violence, harassment and sexual opportunism.”
In the 1990s, the Party institutionalized that all LGBTQ relationships must be under collective knowledge and development like heterosexual relationships. All LGBTQ couples have equal rights within the relationship, and they shall enjoy all the support and care of the Party, just like those in heterosexual relationships.
“The Party’s unconditional acceptance and protection of the LGBTQ community is no mere lip-service but a matter of principle.”
“Since I am now part of a larger collective, of a larger struggle, the way I maintain discipline is not simply a form of repressing my sexual urges but an aspect of my proletarian remolding,” concluded Ka Oliver.
As we celebrate Pride month this June, gay revolutionaries proudly wave the flag for the national democratic struggle. “There can be no pride if there’s no liberation for all of us.”