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How L.A Pride! made me ask ‘Whose Pride?’…

In L.A., I’d say, yes, come to party. In fact, as far as partying goes, this one ROCKS… big time. Particularly if you have the budget. But just as I was told, temper your expectations/idealism. Because if you don’t, you’d end up just seeing the cracks in the rainbow…

This is a very, very tricky “position”.

On the one hand, it highlights a truth – i.e. that the way we observe “Pride” is very personal. It isn’t the same for everyone (and it shouldn’t be); and no matter the way we observe it, all our ways of celebrating are “valid”.

But on the other hand, this also sounds… like an excuse. Like a (lame) justification of what “Pride” has become; no longer a struggle, but as just a (mere) party. We’re not talking of the merging of the two; just the dominance of the latter (i.e. party part). And we explain this not necessarily by reconsidering the roots of “Pride”; but by excusing what it has become.

And so welcome to LA Pride!, one of the “shining” beacons of what “Pride” all over the world has become…


LA Pride!’s organizers are upfront about the annual gathering’s raison d’être: “Pride means different things to different people. It’s about being proud to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community; standing up for equality and human rights; being role models for younger generations; and, for many, it’s about simply looking forward to an annual celebration where we put our differences aside and stand together as one community…

“It’s not our role to tell you how to feel or how to act or how to believe during Pride. Your experience of Pride is completely up to you – and that’s a beautiful thing. However, we want you to feel empowered. We want to encourage you to find, embody, share, express, and celebrate what Pride authentically means to you. All in your own unique way.”

Yes… that is fair enough…


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I am as pro-party as the next gay guy, don’t get me wrong. But if partying is – inadvertently – the end goal of the LGBTQIA struggle, are we really on the same boat here?

“It’s not exactly political,” a Filipino friend who is now based in L.A. told me weeks before L.A. Pride! “It’s just one big party, really.”

I had to – I was told – “temper your (political) expectations.” This was the “only way I can appreciate it… by seeing it using the ‘party lens’.”

And so – on June 10, we headed to West Hollywood, L.A.’s largely accepted “gay area” (a day after the “Pride festival” officially started).

Yep, the dykes on bikes still led the parade. This is good representation, yes; though – let’s cut the crap here – really just a token (if not symbolic) role given to lesbians/women to “lead” the annual parade because of their continuing invisibility even within the LGBTQIA community.

Yep, there are “political” groups/messages – e.g. #BlackLivesMatter, and those highlighting how LGBTQI youth are largely affected by homelessness. But that many had to (also) strip for their causes to be listened to doesn’t reflect well on our lookism society…

Yep, many of the “regulars” that helped strengthen the LGBTQIA community were there – e.g. progressive faith-based organizations, HIV and AIDS groups, and so on. But almost always sandwiched between the plethora of the the privileged White, middle-class and/or rich, able-bodied, cisgender gay men, I’d say discussions on “representation versus tokenism” really have to be revisited…

And then there were the sponsors – i.e. them who supposedly “make Pride happen” because they fund it (e.g. banks, alcoholic beverages), easily equating “Pride” with “money”…

“Turn around,” the Filipino friend who accompanied me said, pointing me to the people on the street parallel to where the parade was happening. There, more of what makes our community “diverse” can be found – e.g. a gay man with his elderly mother who’s on a wheelchair, queer people proudly expressing their queerness, LGBTQIA couples, et cetera. “Mas interesting pa sa likod (Watching these people is more interesting),” the friend laughed.

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In L.A. Pride!, there is no program held after the parade. Instead, most of the festival revelers “gather” in an enclosed area (access is from $30, reaching to over $200 if you want backstage pass). And inside this area, the partying continues…

There are four stages (with DJs) inside; all of these stages were paid for by sponsors (e.g. MAC). In spots all over the enclosed area, there are stalls selling drinks – e.g. if a glass of beer can be bought for less than $5 outside, here, it’s well over $10. Let’s cut the crap and call this for what it is: Money-making dressed in the rainbow…


Perhaps I’m just… grumpy?

Maybe I’m just growing old(er)?

Or I’m really just out-of touch?

Call me those, I honestly don’t care.

Because I suppose I am not ‘there’ yet. That is: I am not yet fully sold to this “new(er)” concept of what “Pride” has become/is fast becoming…

We have this grand idea of the “movement” that was started in the West (US in particular); and how we should “emulate”/work towards following their footsteps; et cetera

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And this (apparently wanton) over-emphasis on “celebrate” versus “struggle” is becoming a “norm” almost everywhere. Fuck the pretenses, we seem to be told, it really is just one big ball/party…

Get this: Last year, in Marikina City for Metro Manila’s Pride parade, two sponsors actually bickered on who should lead the parade, citing the amount given as reason on the “right” to do so. The actual LGBTQIA groups that were there had to wait for their turn to join the parade until the moneyed could decide who deserved more to be in that parade…

And for years now, we’ve been able to raise over half a million pesos every year for a one-day parade (give or take a handful of events promoting this parade, and then for the after-parade parties of the organizers); but we can’t even raise 10% of that amount to, among others: 1. help homeless senior LGBTQIA people find (more permanent) housing; 2. help feed LGBTQIA people also affected by contractualization in the picket lines after they were illegally removed from their jobs by opportunistic corporations; 3. establish a legal service to help particularly LGBTQIA people inadvertently affected by Duterte’s anti-tambay policy; et cetera.

We used to say “no Pride until all of us have Pride” and/or “none of us is free until all of us are free”. Well, this new(er) and more individualistic “idea” seems to be saying: Fuck your Pride; I already have mine.

If this is the future of “Pride”, then really, hindi na dugo at pawis ang puhunan ng Pride ngayon, pera na.

And I’m not sure this is the Pride we all really want to be part of…

Back in L.A., I’d say, yes, come to party.

In fact, as far as partying goes, this one ROCKS… big time. Particularly if you have the budget.

But just as I was told, temper your expectations/idealism. Because if you don’t, you’d end up just seeing the cracks in the rainbow…

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