Justinne Lugue is a young professional based in the Philippines with a background in media & journalism, sales & marketing, and administrative support. She holds a degree in Bachelor of Arts in Communication and dedicates her time in supporting organizations through creating capacity so that they can focus on what matters most. Justinne is a strong advocate of ending violence against women & children and she volunteers within her local community through organizing activities and programs that help victims overcome one of the Philippines’s pervasive social problems, domestic violence. She is also active in her local LGBTQIA+ community and advocates for creating safe spaces for people, especially the youth, to express their sexual orientation and gender identity.

I remember growing up in a sectarian school with the fondest memories of love and belonging, always having a place to go, and being encouraged to never be afraid to explore and discover.  I remember consuming media, exploring art, and going through the discovery that I like girls romantically.  Having been taught to nurture curiosities in school and at home, I was not afraid to consider this reality.  The school, which had been so encouraging, wasn’t so loving and accepting after finding out that I was involved with a peer who identified as the same gender as myself.  Instead of love and acceptance, I was surrounded with isolation and damnation.  I remember being called a sinner and told I am going to hell. I was expelled in tenth grade from the institution I spent the last decade of my life in, and it took a lot of time to overcome the intersectional struggle with my faith, gender, and sexuality. 

Some days I still struggle with religious and cultural homophobia, as a lot of queer people in the Philippines do, but I am fortunate that I have a very healthy support system in my family and friends. I have taken it as my vocation to create safe spaces for the LGBTQIA+ youth in my community by using my skills and network to provide support and resources so that they do not experience similar struggles. While doing this, I continuously remind myself that I can love who I want to love and be who I want to be. I am valid.

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