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Op-Ed

Why we are here

Chris Salvatierra stresses the need for those pushing for LGBT human rights to focus on the real fight. “Let us be reminded that the fight is not yet over until there is still a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender who experiences discrimination. We march for those who cannot march with us. We are here to lend a voice to those who cannot speak, who cannot express what they feel inside. We march for justice. We march for our rights. We march against discrimination. We march for love. Let us not forget why we are here.”

By Chris Salvatierra

I remember how it felt like to walk into a room and seeing familiar faces of lesbians and gays. As I was pointed and welcomed with a seat, I remember that they – THEY were the people whom I admired for having the courage and the ability to verbalize how it felt like and what it is that the LGBT activists fight for. I was awestruck. I was there. I felt privileged. More than that, I felt I belonged. More than a decade has passed so the details are now a blur but I can still recall the feelings I had at that time. I cannot imagine that I was discussing issues with these leaders.

As time passed, these “elders” that I referred to were really just “ordinary people” who have extraordinary passion in what they believe in. It made me realize that gays and lesbians are able to work together for a common goal and can have fun at the same time. There was a misconception I had that gays and lesbians cannot work together because they have different “interests”. The camaraderie proved me wrong. Up until now, I consider them as friends.

Organizing for the annual Pride March for Task Force Pride (TFP) was not an easy task. Every single member was a valuable asset in ensuring its success. Every logistical problem imaginable was experienced. The weather that was not at all encouraging, the funds that were scarcely available and were mostly from its members’ pockets – and come the day itself, the hecklers and all those people who make fun, curse, and condemn us to the eternal fire of hell. TFP had a Pride Day that became Pride Month and turned into Pride Season. Member organizations’ events coordinated so people can plan their calendars ahead.

Every Pride March, I remind myself why I was there. Why there is a Pride March in the first place and why it is important for the community to have one.

Pride is a celebration. Twenty one years after the first Pride March held in the country, the LGBT community enjoy a day of revealing themselves. A celebration of diversity – the different backgrounds, beliefs, gender expression is a colorful spectacle.

Pride March. It is still a march. A declaration to the community that we are here. We may look different from what you expect people to be, but we are here. We are alive and we have as much the same rights as any other citizen of this country. That we would want to live in a place where we don’t just exist but in a place where we can all BE OURSELVES. To be able to express our identity without fear. To be able to love and show affection without fear. To be able to contribute to society as the person that we are and not what society dictates us to be.

As we march tomorrow and join the Pride March, let us be reminded that the fight is not yet over until there is still a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender who experiences discrimination. We march for those who cannot march with us. The faceless LGBTs who are in the closet for a variety of reasons as many as the splash of colors in the rainbow. We are here to lend a voice to those who cannot speak, who cannot express what they feel inside. We march for justice for those who are now but statistics to crimes that are yet to be labelled crimes of hate. We march for our rights. We march against discrimination. We march for love.

Let us not forget why we are here.

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