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Pride Spotlight: An Interview with Kesh Tatlonghari, Marketing Manager of Lush Philippines

Feb 11, 2021

Pride month may be over, but the fight for LGBTQIA+ recognition isn’t. In our Pride Spotlight series, we talk to LGBTQIA+ business owners, clients, and friends in an effort to strengthen visibility in the community and keep the conversation going even after the pride parties have ended.

Tell us about what you do.

I am the Senior Marketing Officer of Lush Philippines. I handle PR, Events, Charity Pot, and Visual Merchandising. I also work closely with the charities that the brand is supporting.

How would you describe the LGBTQ+ community in Manila?

I would say that the LGBTQ+ community has a much stronger voice now than before. For the past 2-3 years, I’ve been seeing advertisements that promote the LGBTQ+ community, while pride marches for the past few years have been well-attended and well-promoted. Even TV shows would create a segment or contest just for gays and lesbians, which I think is great for people to see these kinds of activities, for the LGBTQ+ community to be recognized, and to promote acceptance and equality.

What was it like for you growing up?

I grew up studying in an all-girls exclusive school and college, which I think was an influence in me being bisexual and honing me to becoming a feminist.

Have you ever been discriminated against or treated badly for your sexuality?

Well before when I was younger, I would get a lot of comments like “sayang ka” just for sharing that I have a girlfriend, which was kind of annoying because I felt degraded for being honest with my sexuality, and because of their mindset that I should be with someone from the opposite sex so that I would not be “sayang.” But when I think about it now, I feel sorry for them for the lack of open-mindedness.

Hearing these kinds of comments, of course I grew up conscious of my sexuality, and I learned to ignore these kinds of people or comments as long as I am comfortable with who I am, who I am with and of course as long as I am happy. But as I got older, I realized that a simple comment like that is purely discrimination already and that they should be educated.

How about professionally? And were there any obstacles you needed to go through that your straight counterparts didn’t have to?

Luckily for me, I did not have any problems dealing with people at work when it came to my sexuality.

What issues do you think people need to be talking about in terms of how members of the LGBTQ+ community are treated in the workplace, as professionals (i.e. doctors), and as business owners?

You should never judge a person and his/her capabilities by gender preference. Like what I said, promote equality, acceptance, and respect. Be more sensitive when talking about them, especially when it comes to making jokes. Stop shaming gays and lesbians for who they are, how they look like, or their preference for a partner. Create a comfortable space where they will feel accepted.

What is your opinion about brands that support pride month or the LGBTQ+ community? Or pretty much any other social cause or issue?

I look up to and support these brands who make an effort in supporting the LGBTQ+ community, it may be a social media post, ad, billboard material, or an exclusive product made for the LGBTQ+ community—as long as the purpose is to promote inclusivity. Brands that are using their voice to spread awareness and positivity towards the community will really help. Especially with our traditional culture, we need to continue educating people about this social issue.

Do you think there are enough safe spaces for the LGBTQ+ community here?

I am hoping that there are already enough spaces for the LGBTQ+ community here in the Philippines.

What are some problems the LGBTQ+ community faces in Manila that people need to be talking about more?

I think the discrimination and insensitive comments should be addressed more. People should be more sensitive when it comes to making simple jokes or comments. It clearly shows people tend to belittle members of the LGBTQ+ community just because of their sexual preferences. When in fact, they should be treated and seen as equally because their sexuality does not define what they can and cannot do.

Dot Digital PH is a digital marketing agency based in the Philippines. We offer social media marketing, web design and development, content creation, pay-per-click ads management, and digital marketing strategy and consultancy.