What are we really celebrating during Pride?
I was talking to a clan member a few days ago, during the World AIDS Day 2013 observance; and I asked him what he was doing there. “Hindi ko alam, sumama lang ako kasi may nag-aya. Ang sabi nila event daw ito ng mga may AIDS,” he said.
And then we got to talking about Pride, and I asked him if he’s joining the Pride event the following weekend, he was just as vehement. “Of course! We’re going to attend the street party. Hindi na kami sasama sa parade kasi sayang sa oras at nakakapagod lang, puro kabaklaan lang naman ‘yun,” he said, somewhat dismissively.
I was astounded by his ill-educated answers.
Because, apparently, for some, Pride celebration is but a good excuse for them to get drunk or to find their next best hookup. As this guy stressed, Pride celebration is all about meeting new guys while dancing the night away with your friends.
And I worry: Is it only while doing these that we feel proud of ourselves?
He isn’t alone in having this way of thinking. In fact, many LGBTs of the younger generation share the sentiment.
But, really, are they to be solely blamed?
I’d argue that this way of seeing is because of a combination of factors, not helped by the wrong that the public is getting and that the LGBT community itself has been sending out.
What’s happening right now in the Philippines, when celebrating Pride, is limited. At times, many see it as just a political rally, with banners plastered on stage and paraphernalia given away, many of them donning the faces and names in bold letters of the politicians who supposedly helped make the celebration possible. There are times, too, when it is but an observance of something different… like the World AIDS Day, often followed by a street concert that attracts more heterosexuals than LGBTs. At those times, the supposed message of Pride is clouded.
This year’s Pride celebration was actually almost cancelled because of the mishandling of the preparations. The Quezon City Pride Council (QCPC), which became active this year with different efforts in the community, eyed to hold the supposed Pride for 2013. QCPC, by the way, depends on the local government unit of Quezon City.
With only 15 days left before the scheduled Pride March (on the first Saturday of December), QCPC announced through its Facebook page that the QC government is canceling all celebrations in the city, including the Pride March to and“re-align its budget allocation and manpower to help the victims of Typhoon Yolanda.”
For me, there is nothing wrong with helping our brother and sisters who were devastated by the killer typhoon; in fact, it’s very humane to “re-align the budget allocation’” to help them. But what’s really wrong in this picture is QCPC’s (and the QC government’s) overlooking of the importance of celebrating Pride.
What does Pride celebration really mean?
It’s supposed to be a celebration of what the community has achieved so far, a culmination of the efforts of the LGBT movement.
There are only few victories in one’s lifetime and I think it’s just right to – at times – just stand still, look at the big picture, and see how far we’ve gone. As has been noted, this year, there are more LGBTs in the politics, the anti-discrimination ordinance was approved in some cities, an anti-discrimination bill was filed again in Congress, and there are more unified and tangible efforts to fight HIV and AIDS.
These need to be highlighted.
The celebration doesn’t have to be extravagant. What the community needs is just a moment and a decent space to gather together and celebrate the victories it has achieved so far.
Many actually praised Quezon City when QCPC was formed, supposedly to help uplift the status of its LGBT members. But as QCPC just folded, we – from the LGBT community – should be asking if it has really done enough to be worthy of the praises.
Fortunately, the annual Pride celebration is still pushing through on December 7, this time, with the community itself coming together to make things happen. And so the impossible became possible.
Pride is a time for us to take stock; but it’s also the start of a new beginning – until that time when our trans brothers and sisters are not judged according to social constructs that limit their gender identity and expression; until that time when you can introduce your significant other to your officemates as your husband or wife and not just as a “friend”; until that time when your sexual orientation is not going to be the basis of whether you will be promoted or not in your workplace; and until that time when you can honestly say to yourself “I’m proud of who I am.”