Pride is on.
The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community of Metro Manila and nearby areas is scheduled to hold the annual Pride March on December 7 at Remedios Circle in the City of Manila, with the theme “Strength in Colors: The 2013 Lesbian Gay Bisexual, Transgender & Queer (LGBTQ) Pride March”.
This is the 19th anniversary of the Pride celebrations in the Philippines, and it marks the successes of the LGBT rights movement in the Philippines, including the participation of more LGBTQ people in politics, approval of anti-discrimination ordinances in a handful of cities, a newly filed anti-discrimination bill in Congress, and a more unified effort to fight HIV and AIDS.
“All these forces deepen and shape our own path as a movement for social justice for LGBTQ Filipinos. It feels like the best time to be LGBTQ in the Philippines,” said Naomi Fontanos, executive director of Gender and Development Advocates (GANDA) Filipinas, one of the co-organizers of Metro Manila Pride March 2013.
Organizing this year’s Metro Manila Pride March was challenging because, earlier, Quezon City-backed Quezon City Pride Council cancelled its planned World Pride Festival, which was supposed to be this year’s event that will gather LGBT Metro Manilans. LGBTQ individuals and organizations, therefore, were left with only two weeks to put up the Pride celebrations on Saturday, 7 December.
“This is the shortest time in history that a Pride March has been organized,” said Fontanos. “I will always remember this and hope to honor in the future all those who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make this Pride March possible.”
“One good thing about Pride is that its significance can be as diverse as the people who celebrate it. For some, it can be about making a political statement. For some, it’s celebrating who they are or simply having fun and bonding with the community. For others, it’s a combination of these things. What’s certain is that Pride will always mean something uplifting for the LGBTQ community,” said Ira Briones, chairperson of Lesbian Activism Project Inc., also a co-organizer of this year’s event.
This year’s Pride celebration will also highlight the plight of the Filipinos who were hit by super typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan). Amnesty International Philippines will be the beneficiary of the donations collected during the Metro Manila Pride March 2013.
According to Jade Tamboon, coordinator of Task Force Pride, which co-organized Metro Manila Pride March 2013, this year’s event is similarly the LGBTQ Filipino community’s response to a national tragedy. “Pride will be the action that brings together the LGBTQ Filipino community to help the rest of the nation,” he said, adding that “we also have members of the LGBTQ community who were among those who were affected by Yolanda, and some of us have relatives and loved ones who were lost or missing.”
Tamboon added that the LGBTQ community is “no stranger to being victims of oppression and a harsh environment, but we endure and we survive. That is one message we might want to give to the Yolanda survivors: despite losing a lot of things, they survived and they can recover,” he said.
“Climate change has become very real for all of us, in a way. This is a wake- up call for us to widen the scope of our human rights programming to include the environment. The fight for climate justice is everyone’s business now. What are SOGIE human rights for if we have no world to live in? It is but natural that as LGBTQ Filipinos we are compelled to do our part in the aftermath of Yolanda but I am glad we are doing so under auspices of Pride,” Fontanos added.
Pride is an annual gathering of LGBTQ Filipinos and their allies to highlight both the achievements of the LGBTQ Filipino community and the directions that they want to head to in the future. The Philippines hosted the first Pride March not only in the Philippines, but all over Asia in June 1994.
For Metro Manila Pride March 2013, there will be a parade originating from Remedios Circle in Malate, Manila on Saturday, December 7, from 3:00 PM. It will be followed by a program that will feature talents from The Library Comedy Bar and BED Manila, and other LGBTQ performers.
Briones urges LGBTQ Metro Manilans and their allies to join Metro Manila Pride March 2013 as a way to create LGBTQ-safe spaces. “The Pride March is relevant because it is a time when we go out there on the streets and just own them, symbolic of our efforts to little by little create spaces that are safer for us to live in,” Briones said.