Pouring rain dumped by tropical cyclone Rumbia (Gorio) failed to deter the spirits of the annual lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights advocates in Baguio City whereactivists called on the Benigno Aquino III government to respond to their demands for more human rights protections.
Dressed in huge headresses made from the local Cordillera weed tambo (tiger grass), the leaders of the Baguio Pride Network (BPN) pranced down the city’s tourist promenades along Session Road carrying protest signs and colored wigs to mark the 44th anniversary of the New York City Stonewall Riots. This year’s theme, “Building a World That is Free And Equal”, is a takeoff on the recent global victories in pushing for LGBT rights. Several human rights groups in Manila came to give support.
“The rainbow tambo headress we wear symbolize the need to come together like stalks on a broomstick, because we can only be strong and effective when collectivized. So like brooms, we wish to sweep away the hate, the homophobia and violence that plague our communities,” said Clyde Pumihic of ProGay Metro Baguio, one of BPN’s main organizations.
BPN’s convenor Caro Galvez said that despite a few global victories such as the recent approval by the US Supreme Court of marriage equality for gay and lesbian Americans, violence and discrimination continue to make lives a hell for millions of LGBTs in 76 countries, including the Philippines. “Here in Baguio City, our lesbian sister Manny was a victim of corrective rape, committed by homophobic men who cannot tolerate our rights to our own sexual orientation and gender identity.”
Campus youth organizations including Kabataan and Katribu clanged on gongs and led in the dancing of the indigenous pat-tong. BPN members also sold colored pinwheel flowers to raise treatment funds for a transgender leader afflicted with cancer.
Another BPN member organization, the Lesbians for National Democracy demanded the enactment of the Antidiscrimination Law in Congress.
ProGay Metro Baguio demanded that government hike subsidies for public hospitals and state colleges and universities because the bad economy is making it hard for LGBTs to access education and health care.
A post-parade party sponsored by the Gabriela women’s alliance at the Ke’-Kai Bar followed where LGBT artists rendered solidarity song performances.