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Can we cancel Pride?

Pride 2013 – supposed to be helmed by Quezon City-backed Quezon City Pride Council – was to continue highlighting what LGBT Filipinos have achieved, and still need to work on. But with its cancellation only two weeks before the annual Pride march is to be held, it highlighted instead the need for LGBT Filipinos to rely only on themselves when pushing for their issues.

On November 23, at 2.32PM, the Quezon City Pride Council (QCPC) announced – through a post on its Facebook account – that it is cancelling its so-called “World Pride Festival”.

As it stated:

In conjunction with the national call in aid for the typhoon victims in the central Philippines, the Quezon City Government is canceling all celebrations, which includes the World Pride Parade on December 7… and hereby re-align its budget allocation and manpower to help the victims of typhoon Yolanda. We apologize deeply to the entire LGBT community and our allies for a short notice, and appeal to the entire community to join us in alleviating the needs of our affected countrymen.

The shortness of the notice is worth highlighting here.

Pride-related events are usually held in Metro Manila on the first Saturday of December. In the past (since 1999), all Pride-related events in Metro Manila were organized by the Task Force Pride (TFP), an organization that was actually formed by the LGBT community itself for this very purpose.

When QCPC became more active this year, it – in fact – also planned to hold a Pride March on December 7, thereby and inadvertently competing with TFP.

It was not surprising that, considering that QCPC was backed by the local government unit (LGU) of Quezon City, TFP eventually folded as far as running Pride-related events for 2013 was concerned. As early as July 23, TFP already announced that it is NOT hosting Pride for 2013.

To wit:

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TFP Philippines announces that it has decided not to host the annual Metro Manila Pride March for December 2013. This is in support of the planned Quezon City Pride March by the Quezon City Pride Council.

TFP added that “Quezon City Pride March is the culmination of the QC government’s efforts in promoting equality for LGBT people. TFP applauds this pioneering endeavor and hopes to see other cities in Metro Manila create their own programs to end discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation.”

With QCPC inadvertently downing TFP, misconceptions dominated – for instance, there was the initial assumption that the efforts of QCPC were the same as the efforts of TFP; and the confusion on the focus of QCPC, as the group also tapped non-QC LGBT organizations.

TFP repeatedly re-iterated its support of QCPC’s efforts, highlighting that the two are not the same.

On October 19, it released a statement of support, which was also given as “the reason why TFP announced that it will not host a Metro Manila Pride March in 2013.”

And then again, on November 8, it announced that “it is with a heavy heart that TFP is announcing the cancellation of the 2013 Metro Manila Pride celebration”, adding that “should the Metro Manila LGBTs wish to celebrate Pride as a community, the position to lead TFP is open to those who would like to initiate that endeavor.”

And then QCPC decided to cancel its Pride.

Meaning, if there are people (i.e. not QCPC) who are still keen to organize an event, they will only have two weeks to come up with alternative plans.

And so the question needs to be asked: Can Pride be canceled?

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Here’s my take.

Helping the victims of Yolanda is a no-brainer; it is, in fact, what’s conscionable.

However, one need not be sacrificed for the other to happen.

Helping should be done, yes; but Pride should also be held (LGBT organizations are showing how celebrating can be a tool to help).

Because, in truth, we don’t live in vacuums.

So much needs to be marked in the lives of LGBT Filipinos.

We’ve had successes.

QCPC’s formation is, in itself, worth celebrating (considering that Quezon City still does not have an anti-discrimination ordinance).
Ladlad Caraga Inc. is hosting the 1st LGBT Pride March in Butuan and Caraga this December.
The election of members of the LGBT community in public posts (e.g. Ms Jhane Dela Cruz as the first transgender village chief of Barangay Iba in Hagonoy, Bulacan).

Yet there remain challenges.

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The absence of an anti-discrimination law.
The growing rate of HIV infection among men who have sex with men.
The under-reporting of LGBT-related hate crimes in various parts of the Philippines.

And all these need to be highlighted.

Pride has been serving to do this, exactly – i.e. highlight what we have done, and what we still need to do.

And this is why Pride is important.

So important that no government unit should dictate it for us.

It should be the community itself that does that.

And so the task now falls on LGBT Filipinos themselves to gather to highlight Pride.

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