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Lesson from Quezon City’s LGBTQIA Pride 2024: We’re 200,000 weak

It’s like this: You have 200,000 Pride partygoers, that’s good. But when you call for a rally in front of the House of Representatives or the Senate as a show of number to promote the SOGIESC Equality Bill, how many will turn up?

If you ONLY see and blindly celebrate the reported number of the supposed attendees of this year’s Pride event in Quezon City, then – let’s be blunt here – you’re a dullard. Because while the 200,000 claimed number of revelers may appear to be grand (it is, after all, the biggest number of Pride partygoers gathered in the country so far), it does not tell the full story. And what’s important is in the details, not the PR talk using that padded number.

Generally speaking, the bigger the number, the better, obviously. One way or another, there’s visibility. But all the same, katayin natin ang numero (Let’s dissect this number).

Una (Firstly), how many times does it have to be said that a big, BIG chunk of those who went to Quezon Memorial Circle (QMC) only wanted to watch the celebrities perform for free, particularly TikTok celebrity group BINI, TV personality Vice Ganda, and OPM group Gloc 9. Argue if you were among those who overcrowded QMC or mingled with their fans there, or – at the least – interviewed some members of the angry mob that ended up along Matalino Street (where the merchants were placed) when the rain started to pour heavily, and when the Pride event was eventually cancelled because of bad planning. Again: For so many, BINI was the lure, not LGBTQIA rights. Sadly, your number does not exactly specify how many of these fans were there then.

Ikalawa (Secondly), exactly because a big chunk of the people who went there did not necessarily care about LGBTQIA people, how many of them will actually stand up for us? Yung mga fans ba ng BINI, makikinig sa atin pag sinabihan na huwag botohin ang (Will the BINI fans listen to us if we ask them not to vote for the) Villanueva father-and-son tandem for their nonstop blocking of the anti-discrimination bill that will protect the human rights of LGBTQIA people? Ipagtatanggol ba nila tayo kung inatake tayo ni Manny Pacquiao, na tatakbo na naman sa senado, pag sinabihan na naman tayo na masahol pa tayo sa hayop (Will they defend us if Manny Pacquiao, who is running for senate again, says again that we’re worse than animals)?

At ikatlo (And thirdly), too many uncritically cite the 200,000 as if there is a voting bloc – i.e. as if we all vote for the same politician/s, for the same causes, et cetera. Diyos ko (My God), have you tried talking to Lumad LGBTQIA people whose main focus is the loss of their ancestral land, and so could not prioritize the SOGIESC Equality Bill, like so many Metro Manila-based LGBTQIA people? Have you tried discussing intersex people’s need to have a law that will simplify their ability to change their sex and gender markers in legal documents, more than their assumed need for a SOGIESC Equality Bill? Yung (The) Deaf LGBTQIA’s issues are also different, focusing NOT on their SOGIESC but on their difficulties due to their being PWDs. And then there are LGBTQIA seniors whose urgent concerns have nothing to do with passing this same law, but to ensure that they have proper care as they age. The point is: 200,000 man ang number mo, if 1,000 lang ang same ang nakikitang priority  (even if you have 200,000 attendeed, but if there are only 1,000 who have the same priority), then you’re still fucked. We can’t even decide if we’re voting for Leni and Kiko or BBM and Sara, assume ka pa (yet you assume) that 200,000 is a “show of force” to politicians; patawa ka (you make people laugh).

Ganito rin yan (It’s also like this): You have 200,000 Pride partygoers, that’s good. But when you call for a rally in front of the House of Representatives or the Senate as a show of number to promote the SOGIESC Equality Bill, how many will turn up? Kung di ka man lang aabot ng (If we can’t even reach) 1,000, then… nasaan na ang 200,000 mo (where’s your 200,000)? And so, if so, we’re actually 200,000 weak.

But in LGBTQIA advocacy and activism, qualify that number. Because if it’s just thrown around like some gospel, nagmumukha lang tanga at walang alam ang gumagawa nito (the one doing this just looks stupid and who doesn’t know anything).

The founder of Outrage Magazine, Michael David dela Cruz Tan completed BA Communication Studies from University of Newcastle in NSW, Australia; and Master of Development Communication from the University of the Philippines-Open University. Conversant in Filipino Sign Language, Mick can: photograph, do artworks with mixed media, write (DUH!), shoot flicks, community organize, facilitate, lecture, and research (with pioneering studies under his belt). He authored "Being LGBT in Asia: Philippines Country Report", and "Red Lives" that creatively retells stories from the local HIV community. Among others, Mick received the Catholic Mass Media Awards in 2006 for Best Investigative Journalism, and Art that Matters - Literature from Amnesty Int'l Philippines in 2020. Cross his path is the dare (guarantee: It won't be boring).

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