Tone-deaf event for tourists using the LGBTQIA community as lure?
In the City of Manila, where there is still no anti-discrimination ordinance (ADO) protecting the human rights of members of the LGBTQIA community, the local government (LGU) under the leadership of former actor and product endorser Mayor Isko Moreno is slated to hold its first “Manila Summer Pride” celebration at Burnham Green at the Quirino Grandstand on April 19.
Themed “Awra Na,” the event – done through the city’s Department of Tourism, Culture and Arts of Manila (DTCAM) – is said to “showcase ang diversity sa Lungsod ng Maynila.” DTCAM also stated that the event is the LGU’s way of expressing its support to the LGBTQIA community.
According to DTCAM, “the Manila Summer Pride will be the first pride celebration organized by the City Government of Manila and we are honored to host this historical event.” But earlier, DTCAM stressed that the event is open even to those who are not LGBTQIA to include allies, and that it’s for people who “support love and equality, no matter what gender.”
Since pride celebrations are usually done in June, marking the Stonewall Inn Riots that happened in New York in 1969, largely considered as the impetus of the modern LGBTQIA movement, the LGU’s decision to hold its version of pride in April is because it believes that pride should be celebrated “anywhere and anytime of the year.”
“Pride… in June are known all across the world and we understand that this also signifies unity among the LGBTQIA community members globally. However, times are changing and even in other countries and places in the Philippines, Pride (events) are now being conducted in different months and we believe that as a movement, it is due to be celebrated anywhere and anytime of the year,” DTCAM stated.
According to Michael David C. Tan, editor of Outrage Magazine and concurrent executive director of Manila City-based Bahaghari Center for SOGIE Research, Education and Advocacy, Inc. (Bahaghari Center), the LGU’s version of pride is problematic on many sides.
“No one will question efforts that eye to give attention to minority sectors – such as the LGBTQIA community – that continue to experience hardships,” Tan said. However, “when an effort that claims to be for a certain sector does not even know what that sector really needs, then there’s an issue.”
Manila’s LGU may be accused of “co-opting” the LGBTQIA struggle, Tan said, by focusing on “just selling it as a for-tourism event, particularly since the city still does not have an ADO.”
For Tan, “partying is cool; but we need rights”. So if Moreno is “really serious about wanting to support the LGBTQIA community, he should focus on passing an ADO, which will longer-lasting, life-changing effects on his LGBTQIA constituents’ lives.”
Tan added that the decision to hold the gathering in April solely because the organizers see pride as a celebration that can be done anytime, anywhere is therefore “tone deaf” because “for as long as LGBTQIA people are treated as less than their heterosexual counterparts, then pride remains a protest, a struggle” and “not mere celebration.”