GALANG started out as a small group of lesbian friends who were either keenly observing or actively engaged in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) activist communities in the Philippines. Regular and casual conversations eventually turned into meetings about what else the group could do to concretely advance LGBT rights. Because the Philippines is a developing country, we felt it was imperative for local activists to learn more about the relationship between sexuality and poverty in order to gain ground in advocating to and for the rights of sexual minorities.
We could not ignore the fact that out of around 88 million Filipinos, 27 million are poor, surviving on less than US $1 per day—hardly enough for basic needs such as food and shelter. These numbers are consistent with our observation that while some Filipino LGBTs are financially stable or gainfully employed, the predominant face of local LGBTs is of those of us who are poor, uneducated, and unemployed or underemployed—the same segment of the sector that is often most prone to becoming victims of employment discrimination or violence.
Confronted with these realities, we felt it was urgent to develop a model for organizing and mobilizing poor LGBTs who comprise the majority of the sector, not only because they are the most vulnerable among us, but also because of the belief that without a critical mass of organized Filipino LGBTs, they will continue to suffer from discrimination, with limited access to and control of education, health services, and employment opportunities.
Registered with the Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission as a non-government organization (NGO) on August 29, 2008, GALANG takes pride in being a lesbian-initiated, lesbian-run feminist human rights organization that works with lesbians, bisexual women, and trans men (LBT) in urban poor communities, or women who either self-identify as lesbian or bisexual and/or have relationships with women but self-identify as heterosexual, as well as persons labeled as females at birth but self-identify as male (trans men). While our organization currently has both male and female—both gay and straight—staff and volunteer professionals, we continue to espouse and aspire for the feminist values of respect, economic justice, equality, diversity, fairness, and empowering processes at all levels of our work.