Banners of rainbows waved in the wind, glistening in the dull afternoon sun firmly and proudly. The crowd of supporters that had gathered ran furiously as stoplights turned from green to red, and vice versa. They ran wearing grins on their faces; a happiness of belonging somewhere, of being home in a crowd. Despite a long trek that took up most of the afternoon, the marchers carried no weariness in their bodies, only the smiles that represented their pride and hope for the future.
The 21st Metro Manila Pride March was held in the streets of Luneta Park last June 27. It came at a very significant time, with the recent legalization of same-sex marriage across all 50 states in the United States making waves around the world, and the growing movement among Filipinos to support members of the LGBT community sparked by recent controversies on transgender rights. Indeed, this parade had much to celebrate and be proud of.
Fight for love
Over 1,500 LGBT supporters registered for the pride march this year, with dozens of organizations from all walks of life marching to represent the fight for gender equality. Filipinos and foreigners, straight individuals and members of the LGBT community, all kinds of people came to support the cause, each aspiring for equality and acceptance for all sexualities.
Last year, Metro Manila Pride launched #ComeOutforLove, “to show our true colours and achieve the acceptance we all like,” as stated by the emcees of this year’s post-march program. With this year’s theme, #FightforLove: Iba-Iba, Sama-Sama, the pride march continued the good fight for gender equality and rights, with the goal of being able to say, at the end of it all, that love really does win.
More than the LGBT
Though the cause of the pride march stems from issues of discrimination against the LGBT community, it wishes to tackle more than that in its battles. Red Macalalad, head of Task Force Pride Philippines, states that discrimination does not exist only in gender inequality, but instead manifests itself all around society.
“Ang LGBT issues ay ‘di isolated, mga kapatid. Ang LGBT issues ay kasama sa mga [issues ng] kahirapan, issue ng mga manggagawa, kakulangan natin sa health sector, mga kailangan natin i-improve, at maraming pang iba,” Macalalad shares. “At hindi tayo pwede matapos sa usapin ng equality o kung marecognize tayo o magpakasal tayo. Hindi lang yon ang problema natin. Marami tayong pagbabaka na dapat gawin at kailangan natin siyang kilalanin.”
Although Lasallians have been known to attend pride marches in the past, this year was the first time that there was an official delegation of DLSU students actively participating in the event. DLSU Parada, the successor of the former DLSU LGBT organization Queer Archers Alliance, attended the march, while both students and faculty members of the school came to show their unwavering support for Metro Manila Pride.
Judey Leoncini of DLSU Parada shares that he has gotten much support from the USG and the Lasallian student community with the establishment of their organization, especially after DLSU held its own Pride Week, spearheaded by the USG, last November. He iterates that the new organization will not just represent the LGBT in DLSU, but will also strive for equality for the Lasallian community. He takes up the mantle for the cause as the representative of DLSU Parada in the post-march solidarity speech, addressing issues that surround both the University and the country. He shares that he holds much hope for the future: that someday, the LGBT community will gain acceptance in the eyes of all.
“Naniniwala kami na darating ang panahon na makukuha natin ang political na karapatan tulad ng same-sex marriage sa tulong ng kolektibong aksyon. Matatanggap rin ang mag-jowang beki, mga butch. At darating rin ang panahon na wala nang mahihyang maghawak-kamay sa loob at labas ng unibersidad,” Leoncini said.
“Darating ang panahon na wala nang bakla at lesbiyana na mahihiya at sasabihing ‘Oo, bakla ako!’, lalabas sa kloset at sasabihin na ‘Mahal ko siya. Anong pakialam mo?’. Wag kayong susuko.”
As Leoncini addressed the crowd, light rains began falling overhead. A small rainbow then appeared against the sky, a marvelous coincidence that also served as an apt symbol for the community’s hope for the future.
Gay means happy
As described by some of the regular parade participants, there were suprisingly no haters or protesters in this year’s march. Though they may have jokingly complained that this made the whole parade less interesting, this signified a positive change in the mind-set of the general public towards the LGBT community. As the march took place, some cars opened their windows and honked their horns. They smiled and they waved as the procession passed by Taft Avenue. The crowd seldom, if at all, heard any untoward remarks from passersby, who most of the time, simply smiled and laughed with the marchers.
As the procession entered the final stretch of Roxas Boulevard, the long crowd, more than a thousand strong, walked gleefully beneath a cloudy sky. The gathering looked just like any other throng of people, despite a history of others perceiving them as different and strange. In solidarity, they stood, struggled, and fought, and will continue to do so, for a simple cause: to love freely as any man or woman could.
Related read: LGBT and proud — Demystifying the Queer Archers Alliance