Safe spaces for LGBTQ+ Filipinos are few and far in between. In fact, the Philippines is yet to pass the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Bill into law, making the LGBTQ+ community turn to local Anti-Discrimination Ordinances (ADOs) for protection against gender-based violence, harassment, and denial of public services.
While the protection of LGBTQ+ Filipinos remains on paper, multiple safe spaces have been set up both by the local LGBTQ+ community and their allies. From restaurants to bars to clubs and other social gatherings, the community relies on these safe spaces not just for protection from hate, outright discrimination, or micro-aggressions, but also for a sense of community and belonging.
One such space is the Food For The Gays (FFTG) Cafe located in 13th Avenue, Cubao, Quezon City.
FFTG started as a small online business, similar to most born in the middle of the pandemic. Owner Nariese Giangan (popularly known online as TanginaTibs) decided to sell her baked creations for extra income. Since a lot of her regular customers wanted more of her products, Nariese opened FFTG Cafe with her partner Chip Abando.
Together with a couple of baristas as service crew, they have grown the small online business to a full-fledged cafe that runs LGBTQ events almost weekly.
Starting with Open Mic events and Quiz Nights, FFTG has also been home to the Drag Race Philippines and Drag Den Philippines viewing parties. These viewing parties have always been sold out due as their parties offer performances from resident queen Mrs. Tan and Drag Den PH queens such as Barbie-Q, Shewarma, and Aries Night.
FFTG Cafe celebrated its second anniversary with WERK the Third World last 10 February 2023.
The event, hosted by Peabo and Salmo Nella, had a long list of performers from drag queens Shewarma, Aries Night, O-A, Mrs Tan, Jona Quinn, Andy Crocker, Xitrina, Riley Nicole, and Panthera, to musical performances from Sky Teotico,Pow Chaves, Shelly Pasaba, and a dance performance by TFX.
Human rights groups PUP Kasarianlan, Bahaghari, and Metro Manila Pride also shared solidarity speeches through the night, sharing gratitude for the safe space that FFTG Cafe has been for the community while highlighting the need for the passage of the SOGIE Equality Bill into law.
The entire night was brimming with queer joy. Long time patrons and friends came to celebrate their favorite safe space reaching a milestone– a big deal for the queer community due to the fact that they have lost a handful of queer-owned businesses during the pandemic. Nariese said it herself during her opening speech that people often said “ang lakas ng loob namin” when they decided to open up shop during the pandemic. But now, they are overwhelmed with the love and support they are getting from the community.
The event was free so FFTG Cafe can welcome as many people as possible and to give love back to the people who’ve kept them thriving throughout the last two years. Coming from the humble beginnings of fifteen people during their first Drag Race PH viewing party, to more than a hundred people coming for the second anniversary show, FFTG Cafe really is werking the world; expanding their chosen family, one iced shakerato at a time.
FFTG Cafe is open Tuesdays to Sundays, 4PM onwards.
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Words by Loreeen and Watson
Photos by Super Sonic Siomai
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