<p>Odessa Jones (55) performs in a show for the Golden Gays&rsquo; benefactors in Manila, the Philippines.</p>
2023 Photo Contest, Southeast Asia and Oceania, Stories

Home for the Golden Gays


Hannah Reyes Morales

for The New York Times
24 July, 2022

Odessa Jones (55) performs in a show for the Golden Gays’ benefactors in Manila, the Philippines.

The Golden Gays are a community of older LGBTQI+ people from the Philippines who have lived together for decades, sharing a home, caring for each other as they age, and staging shows and pageants to make ends meet.

The Golden Gays community was founded in the 1970s by lawyer and activist Justo Justo, who opened his home to shelter ‘lolas’  – a local word for ‘grandmothers’, an affectionate term members of the group have adopted. When Justo died in 2012, the community were evicted and some experienced homelessness until 2018, when they began renting a house in Manila.

A Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Expression (SOGIE) Equality Bill has been languishing in the Philippine Congress for two decades, and although it progressed a step in 2022, has since suffered a setback after opposition from religious groups. Although the  LGBTQI+ research resource Equaldex finds the Philippines currently the second most LGBTQI+ friendly country in Southeast Asia (after Laos),  surveys by the Rainbow Rights Project and Metro Manila Pride found that more than 60 percent of LGBTQI+ youth had experienced discrimination. An earlier generation faced prejudice from a largely Catholic society, were unable to find jobs, and many now have to live without pensions.

Hannah Reyes Morales
About the photographer

Hannah Reyes Morales is a photographer and photojournalist from the Philippines who focuses on bringing historical memory and current events home, by looking at how they shape daily life.  Her work has been published in The New York Times, National Geographic Magazine, and The Washington Post, among others. She...

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Jury comment

This project enlists an intersectional approach to portray the multilayered experiences of LGBTQI+ identifying people in the Philippines. The photographer holds the people in such high regard and has them shining at the highest capacity. The images are stunning frames of love, joy, and celebration and the community the people surround themselves with. The project is well executed, beautifully photographed, and successfully centers the community's demonstrations of trust and resilience, instead of indulging in despair.