Dec 6, 2009

[Pink Culture] Manila Pride March 2009

Rainbow Pendants

As much as I've written many entries about gay advocacy on this and other blogs I write, I have to admit that my more active participation in true more public activities has been limited to the White Party every June. I've always wanted to rectify this, but for one reason or another I'd fail at it and pretty much continue to disappoint myself. I'm not saying I'm not excused for missing out in the past - it's just an explanation of what brought me to this point.

So given the strength of my views and naturally the personal interest in fighting for gay rights in terms of equality, better representation and respect in the eyes of the law, this year I mapped out in my head that I'd do better and finally make more of a difference somehow. You may have noticed this in the more liberal tone of this blog, the including of more LGBT content here and there and these Sunday articles discussing gay news, issues and concerns.

Last December 5 marked this year's annual Manila Pride March and also the first one that I ever participated in. While the fact that the Pride March takes place in December instead of June when most LGBT groups commemorate Stonewall. I don't know the official reason for this but a lot of people joke about this being related to December being a lot less rainy as compared to June. June continues to have the White Party, even here in Manila, but the March will always be December.

Manila Pride March 2009

This year's Manila Pride March had the theme, "We Dare, We Care", in obvious response to the recent moves against advancing LGBT rights in government and the repeated denials of Ang Ladlad's attempts to become a recognized party list candidate for the 2010 elections. Whatever the specific reasons, we as an LGBT community still have a lot to fight for in order to protect our rights and that needs a more than healthy amount of courage given the local political environment.

The march started at Remedios Circle and ultimately made its way over the what is often called the heart of gay culture in Manila, the corner of Orosa St. and Nakpil St., where most of the gay bars are located. A stage had been set up for the event where the organizers gave relevant speeches, played games and even held a gay beauty pageant. It was a pretty wild night and one that will certainly be well-remembered.

As for me, I was just happy to finally participate. Admittedly, it may not seem like much to walk in a parade amidst catcalls and angry chants from religious groups trying to "save our souls," but this simple action remains fairly meaningful and represents joining with fellow LGBT people in order to remind the government and the country as a whole that we're here, we're queer and we're never going to disappear. The world allows for infinite diversity so why can't people learn to respect our right to be recognized as vibrant members of this community?

With luck, this may be the first of many other ways that I try to get more involved in the fight for LGBT rights in the country. We can all do our share, may it be participating in events like this, being safe and getting tested for HIV regularly or even just starting more blogs like this where we can show the country and the world that there's a lot more to us than the superficial (and often false) image of the community that most conservatives tend to rely on. Things aren't going to change if we remain silent or just grumble amongst ourselves. We need to take a stand, make ourselves heard and show the world just who and what we are.

My thanks and appreciation go out to all the hard-working folks over at Task Force Pride who made this year's Pride March a success. More power to you guys and here's to seeing you all next year!

For a more detailed and personal accounting of the day's events, you can read my LiveJournal entry here.

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