Check your FB newsfeeds and see so many say “until next year, Pride!” or differently-worded-yet-similar sentiments. Yeah, I get that they are referring to the “event” – that one time in a year when we supposedly “gather” as a community. But I am saddened that Pride seems to be becoming as just that…
Here’s the thing…
The 22nd version of the so-called “oldest Pride in Asia” happened last Saturday, June 25, with Metro Manila Pride holding a (much shorter) parade and (much longer) pre- and post-parade events. Supposedly with approximately 5,000+ participants, it was – as a once-Pride-regular said – a success; and it can even be considered as a sign that the glamorous Pride events of the past years (when Malate was still the LGBT capital of Metro Manila) can be brought back.
This is a good development, as far as I’m concerned (Good on you, Nicky and Loreen; and those who helped out!).
No matter the form Pride takes (e.g. “too commercial”, “too political”, “too lesbian-focused”, “too gay-led”, “too trans-dominated”, “not enough representation of differently-abled”, et cetera), its one CLEAR intention is always to showcase the community. We can debate all night (preferably over bottles of beer, LOL) on who we’re doing this “show” for – i.e. whether this is to other members of the community (as a show of solidarity), or whether we want to make a fabulous show for the heteros who are watching us. The very concept of this parading is – let’s be blunt here – to show them (whoever we want to “yell” our messages to) that (as that cliché goes) we’re queer and we’re here and… they need to fucking start just moving on with life.
But the showcasing is the easier part of Pride.
Yeah, you can easily argue with me that organizing an event (particularly Pride) isn’t easy. But hear me out as I tell you just as easily that it is doable (Heck, in 2013, the organizers pulled it off in two weeks, when Quezon City decided to dump Pride!).
But parading around town won’t necessarily (immediately) change our plight.
And for as long as our plight isn’t changed, then there’s a need to re-visit our concept of Pride (if it’s even there, to begin with).
So many say: Until next year, Pride!
I say: Pride is an ongoing struggle. It is not a once-a-year event; it is a day-to-day battle to be respected for simply being you. Pride is a continuing fight for equality.
This year’s Pride impressed from the beginning – it was able to raise a relatively big amount of money in just two weeks prior to the big event (P200,000+ versus the approximately P10,000 budget in the past is a HUGE difference). But… how come we can’t even raise the same amount to help out the homeless LGBTs? E.g. members of the Home for the Golden Gays still don’t have a “home”; and there are HIV-positive gay men who live on the streets after their families kicked them out because of their medical condition.
We had more than 5,000 participants this year? Great! But how come we can’t even gather 1/8th of that number to join the (more obviously political) rallies of not only members of our community, but others who are also oppressed for belonging to minority communities? E.g. Do you know or do you even care that there were LGBT members of indigenous communities who begged for rice in the Kidapawan massacre? Do you know or do you even care that members of our community are also affected by contractualization?
This year’s Pride had Filipino Sign Language (FSL) interpreters (Thanks, Joi Villareal!). But… how come the LGBT leaders (and their partner, Sen. Bam Aquino) who formulated the anti-discrimination bill couldn’t even have an FSL version of the proposed law?
And I’m barely scratching the surface of the severity of day-to-day issues that so many LGBT Filipinos face…
We have trans sisters who continue to be deprived of their right to – get this! –use a toilet, solely because they are who they are. Trans sisters whose access to education are hindered unless they conform to socially-constructed norms befitting their assigned sex at birth. Members of the LGBT community “banned” in parts of Mindanao. People living with HIV (and who are also members of the LGBT community) who are unable to access treatment; and PLHIVs whose bodies – when they died – still elicited disgust and were still wrapped in plastic.
Yes, I also get that Pride IS a tool to highlight these issues.
But… just how many of us even broach these issues, much more raise them?
And so here’s the challenge: Don’t let Pride be that one-time-big-time “thing”.
Don’t let it become just a parade; keep it as a march. Better yet, if possible, make Pride both!
Because Pride shouldn’t just be a show/an opportunity for us to be displayed (yes, I find some of those guys in Pride cute, too!); it should also be a protest/a rally.
Because it is true that no one can claim Pride until every single one of us has Pride.
So it shouldn’t just be “Until next year, Pride!”. Instead, it should be “Pride until everyone can claim it!” And while we’re at it, let’s all get down and dirty and make sure that Pride happens to all of us EVERY SINGLE DAY…