Fellows’ Corner: The BEF Experience

Written by: Altan Bermejo

My experience as Fellow under the Babaylanes Equality Fellowship had influenced, taught, and exposed me to various possibilities in the LGBTQIA+ advocacy and activism. Since this fellowship aimed to capacitate graduating and alumni student-leaders, it was an honor and stroke of good fortune being part of this. I was in the process of stepping down from my LGBTQI organizations in order to focus on academics and career preparations. But I did not want to forget my commitment to serve in the community regardless of where I will be. However, outside the university limits such opportunities to do so unless one thoroughly seeks it out. Hence, I am honored and grateful for Babaylanes for providing this chance to learn and work with like-minded people for the LGBTQIA+ agenda. 

I enjoyed and learned a great deal from the D&D sessions and the modules. There were things I wanted to learn more about but did not know where to begin or have the resources for. BEF has provided the starting ground for the pursuit of LGBTQIA+ topics especially on community organizing, intersectional feminism, human rights advocacy, and lobbying. I know for sure that even after my time as a Fellow is finished, I would still continue learning more about these topics and integrate it with current and future projects in various queer communities and advocacies close to my heart. The mentors I have met were inspiring in their works and gave me possibilities that I will consider in the near future. As for my Fellows, we were a diverse bunch and I enjoyed listening to their perspectives and working with them. Despite the differences in schedules, we found ways to make time and work on our batch projects that we chose to do and collaborated with.

Under the Project GORA, one of the batch project of the Fellows, my group had focused on anti-discrimination ordinances (ADO) in the country. We have reviewed various existing ADOs and reached out to communities who are developing their own respective ADOs in their respective municipality. Though small our group was, we have learned a great deal and gained firsthand experience when it came to ADO lobbying and mapping. It was no easy feat for our group but we did what we can and we will carry forth the lessons imparted from this project.

Being a Fellow was not an easy journey given the online setup but it was worth the time and effort in a span of a year. There are still several things to do for LGBTQIA+ in the country, but one does not need to do it alone. There is Babaylanes to help out along with the Fellows and mentors in the process.