Weeks after the 23rd Metro Manila Pride March, and I still can’t help but feel a little nostalgic.
Well, once upon a time, this little bisexual birdy was what every regular Pride goer referred to as a “Pride March virgin”. Having grown up in another country – and an Islamic country at that! – the idea of Pride was, well, non-existent. They didn’t exactly celebrate Pride there at every chance they could get; after all, being a part of the LGBT community back home was considered taboo.
And so, during the 2015 Pride March, I decided that I would pick up my flag and accept the rainbow in me. Thinking big, I also wanted to be the one to do so for my friends still living back home; friends who were closeted members of the LGBT community and didn’t have a voice. And so off I went to join the march, without telling my family that I would be doing so.
And two years later, I still remember it like it was just yesterday.
When I arrived at the venue with one of my closest friends in college, we were directed to an area where we had to register. I wasn’t entirely sure at first about the significance of registering; though later, I realized it helped count the amount of supporters and even members of the LGBT community. So, I queued up like almost every lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and – yes – heterosexual person. While queuing, I met new people; people who to this very day remain as my friends – my support group. I also remember being given free lubricant… which, really baffled me because it was the shape of a rooster (yeah, I get the joke). I even jokingly told the volunteer at the registration area: “Bakit cock lang (Why just a cock)? Where is the equality?”
Then the day went on.
The march exhausted me. I remember screaming at the top of my lungs the whole time. But I also had fun at the same time. I was embraced by a wave of acceptance by those around me and a sense of warmth that finally, I was finally part of something. Going on a stretch, I was even “fighting” for the people who were like me, who WERE me, and who I loved but remain voiceless. I was fighting in that aspect.
At the end of the day, I posted a picture of myself with the rainbow flag on Instagram, captioned: “Pride virgin no more! Haha here’s a post-Pride march picture with a very tired (but very cute!!!!) pug! Yes, I’m well aware that I look extremely haggard but I had such an amazing time and met a few new (fantabulous) friends throughout the day. Happy pride, everybody! #fightforlove #lovewins #lovealwayswins”
Ninety-five people liked that picture; those who I now see as my friends who didn’t judge me for being in an LGBT event. That in itself felt like support because these 95 people were my friends in real life.
My mother was one of those people.
And so my first Pride went a little like this.
I will never forget that year, that moment. And the love I felt that day.
Because some people still think that the Pride March is merely members of the LGBT community causing traffic and creating noises. I realized that we’re doing this for something greater. To be heard. To be recognized. To be free. And we’re all doing it at the same time, at the same day because can all be #HereTogether.