man standing beside the BHP sign with a jasper t-shirt on

Writing his own story so that others can too

“It felt almost rebellious to go against what’s expected of you. But that’s how I built my character and started embracing my LGBTQ+ superpowers. I knew I deserved a chance,” says Chris Eugenio when reflecting on how he writes his own story.

As an out and proud, cis-presenting gay man, Chris has encouraged others to write their stories through his tireless advocacy for LGBTQ+ inclusion, women and youth empowerment, and racial diversity in the Philippines for over 20 years.

Chris was named in ‘Involve’s Global Top 100 LGBT+ Future Leaders Role Models’ for 2022 for advancing the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, encouraging inclusive workplaces and mobilising support for national anti-discrimination laws.

Growing up Chris realised that he didn’t quite fit the stereotypes of LGBTQ+ people that he saw on TV. “I saw LGBTQ+ characters on the screen but not myself in them. At the same time, I was becoming sure that I was different,” he recalls.

At university, his peers gravitated towards the creative arts, but he chose business courses to prepare for a career in the corporate sector.

As he climbed the corporate ladder, Chris challenged the heteronormative expectations of leadership and worked with LGBTQ+ peers to break down stereotypes so that other LGBTQ+ professionals would not experience discrimination, prejudice and microaggressions. “I didn’t have any openly LGBTQ+ role models and we know that we can’t become what we can’t see, so I decided to be a role model for others.”

Chris joined BHP two years ago and took over the reins of managing Jasper Asia in 2022. He is proud of BHP’s inclusive culture and active bystander program, hoping that when colleagues call out harmful behaviours, it helps to create a safe space for LGBTQ+ people to write and share their stories.

But the journey has not always been easy. “I wanted to rewrite the rules, so I felt like I had to work ten times harder.  This is the inclusion tax, feeling the burden of being the first and only openly LGBTQ+ in a team or workplace.”

Chris also acknowledges that not all LGBTQ+ people feel empowered to set the terms on who they are, feel that they belong and have much to contribute. Many countries in Asia have anti-LGBTQ+ legislation which forces their community members to live and love in hiding.

“Some days, I feel so tired. Then I read the news and see a trans person being violated or a young lesbian kid being thrown out of home just for being who she is, or a child being forced out of school for going to his school dance in a dress. That fills me with a renewed sense of fiery purpose to keep going.”