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Living History: Phl makes history with first Pride March in 1994

On June 26, 1994, ProGay Philippines and Metropolitan Community Church helmed a march in Quezon City. Dubbed as “Stonewall Manila” or as “Pride Revolution”, it was held in remembrance of the Stonewall Inn Riots and coincided with a bigger march against the imposition of the Value Added Tax (VAT). With this, the Philippines gained the distinction of being the first country in Asia and the Pacific to host a Pride-related march.

Aside from Fr. Richard Mickley, Oscar Atadero - then of ProGay Philippines - helped make the first LGBT Pride March in the Philippines happen, along with the likes of Murphy Red, et al. PHOTO COURTESY OF FR. RICHARD MICKLEY

On June 26, 1994, ProGayPhilippines (Progressive Organization of Gays in the Philippines), with the likes of Oscar Atadero and Murphy Red, and backed by Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) under the leadership of then Pastor Richard Mickley, held a march at the Quezon City Memorial Circle.

This march – even dubbed as “Stonewall Manila” or as “Pride Revolution” according to various accounts – was held in remembrance of the Stonewall Inn Riots since 1994 marked the 25th year since the “modern” lesbian and gay movement “started”, thanks to the Stonewall Inn Riot in New York.

But it also coincided with a bigger march against the imposition of the Value Added Tax (VAT) in the Philippines.

Some actually contest whether this was really a “Pride March”, considering that: 1. it was not well-documented; and 2. even if a march happened, the issues raised were not only LGBTQIA-specific.

But – to start – if Pride as it is currently known marks the Stonewall Inn Riots, then this march, as an endeavor that did that, obviously qualified. Also, even with the reliance on mainstream media for most of the documentation in those days, the march actually received ample media attention. Lastly, for the organizers of that first march, the broadened approach actually “symbolized not only the solidarity of the LGBTQIA community but also LGBTQIA community members’ participation in mainstream social and economic issues.” The latter point remains valid now, particularly with the call to start looking at intersections within the LGBTQIA community, as well as with other minority sectors.

Interviewed by Patrick King Pascual for Outrage Magazine, Mickley recalled that “there was no interference or harassment along the way, but a lot of noise and shouting in the ranks of the 50 or so marchers.” Nonetheless, the move was considered needed because “we recognized that we now had open, not closeted, organizations. But the movement was still quiet or unknown. We felt we needed a (local) Stonewall”.

The impetus for organizing LGBTQI Pride in the Phl

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As the small group of LGBT organizations marched along Quezon Avenue to Quezon Memorial Circle, they were confronted by the park police and was asked, “Where are you are you going?”

“We had no assembly permit. We sat by the roadside until the activists of ProGay ironed out the stumbling block. (After it was settled), we made our way to an assembly area with a stage,” Mickley said.

But in the end, “the first Pride March brought a publicity breakthrough. The purpose of the Pride March was realized – (to show) that the gay and lesbian people of the Philippines are real people, and they are not freaks in a closet,” Mickley said.

In the end, “that first Pride March brought a publicity breakthrough. The purpose of the Pride March was realized – (to show) that the gay and lesbian people of the Philippines are real people, and they are not freaks in a closet,” Mickley said.

And with this very first march, the Philippines gained the distinction of being the first country in Asia and the Pacific to host a Pride-related march.

Sources:

Pascual, P.K. (2018).   The impetus for organizing LGBTQI Pride in the Phl. Outrage Magazine.

UNDP, USAID (2014). “Being LGBT in Asia: The Philippines Country Report.” Bangkok.

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