Barbershop owned by queer couple in Biñan offers SOGIE training for its barbers

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 27) — A barbershop owned by a queer couple in Biñan, Laguna is offering Sexual Orientation Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) training for its barbers, seen as a significant step in the male-dominated industry.

"Barbierro Barbershop" mixes the terms "barbie" and "barbero (barber)," words that are generally associated with femininity and masculinity, respectively, in Philippine society.

As barbers trained on SOGIE, shop employees make sure to ask their customers' preferred pronouns so they can be properly addressed.

"We would make sure that our barbers are trained in terms of SOGIE and sex characteristics so they're very well aware. I mean it's a foreign concept usually for heterosexual straight men," Barbierro Barbershop owner Paul Sumayao told CNN Philippines.

The barbershop recently trended on Twitter after it claimed to be the first queer barbershop in the country.

The owner said they are also eyeing to hire queer barbers in the future as the industry remains dominated by men.

"It was late na nalaman ko na it's really difficult to source or hire barbers in the Philippines. Most of them…that I wanted for us, pumupunta na sila abroad," he said.

[Translation: It was only recent when I found out that it's hard to source or hire barbers in the Philippines. Most of those that I wanted to hire are moving abroad.]

Opened in 2022, the business advocates safe spaces for queers when they go to barbershops. Sumayao said they are addressing the gap of having LGBT-friendly barbershops in the Philippines.

"One of the reasons why we wanted to be here is that we want to amplify the voices in the entrepreneurial community that queers can sort of make significant change in perceiving masculine or feminine spaces," he said.

Although gender-sensitive ordinances have been enacted locally, the Philippines has yet to pass the proposed SOGIE bill amid strong opposition from religious groups.

RELATED: SOGIE Equality Bill protects everyone, not only LGBTQIA+ members – equality rights advocate