On June 1969, an old gay club in New York City, Stonewall Inn, was raided by policemen. The raid was met with violence and protests from the drag queens and customers of the establishment, all of whom were part of the LGBTQ+ community. This event is unofficially known as the first recorded demonstration of homosexual rights, eventually informally recognizing June as “Pride Month” in commemoration of the Stonewall Riot.
Each year, various countries hold parades, marches, gatherings and the like prepared by the LGBTQ+ communities that either last for a single day or may span a number of days with other activities.
In the Philippine context
In the Philippines, the very first Pride March was held in June 1994, led by the Progressive Organization of Gays—Philippines and the Metropolitan Community Church, to commemorate the Stonewall riot. In 2003, the celebration for Pride Month was moved to December to also bring awareness for other important dates and concerns for the LGBTQ+ community such as World AIDS Day, National Lesbian Day, and International Human Rights Day. However, in 2015, Pride Month was moved back to June.
Today, a non-profit organization known as Metro Manila Pride holds various activities for the LGBTQ+ community and its supporters. While this organization operates anytime, especially on social media through engaging in open forums and discussions with those who follow them, it is during the month of June that they have the most events. They hold gigs, talks, and gatherings all throughout the month around Metro Manila, and host the country’s Pride March every year as well. The march serves as the last and main event of the month, where not only do the participants march along the streets, they also watch performances and talks given by LGBTQ+ members and supporters.
Efforts from the University
Recognizing that there are steps needed to be done, the University Student Government (USG) has been carrying out initiatives in trying to promote a more open and accepting Lasallian community towards the plight of its LGBTQ+ members. In the past month, a mobilization was held in the University, in support of the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity or Expression (SOGIE) Equality Bill, spearheaded by USG President Mikee De Vega, and in partnership with Babaylan of the University of the Philippines (UP).
De Vega has yet to disclose her office’s possible plans in celebration of Pride Month, but has expressed her intentions in a previous interview with The LaSallian. “Yung greater priority talaga is more about lobbying [for their rights]; that’s lobbying inside campus, and lobbying outside,” De Vega disclosed. “When it comes to pride we appreciate activities that celebrate pride internally, pero the work of my office has always been about lobbying rights for them,” she concluded.
The Office of the Vice President for Internal Affairs (OVPIA), as well, has not revealed their plans regarding a possible Pride Month celebration in the University.
Lasallians and the LGBTQ+
Apart from the efforts of the USG, the Lasallian community has been more conscious of the importance of being in support of LGBTQ+ members, and joining in their fight for proper representation and recognition of their rights.
PARADA is the University’s known organization that caters to and supports the LGBTQ+ community and its allies. The organization often partners with the USG and other organizations for activities concerning equality between genders and the different sexualities. Currently, PARADA is working with FAST2016 for a month-long project that is mostly based online, and they aim to put up a booth for their organization sometime soon as well.
Another project PARADA is currently undertaking is showing support for the SOGIE Bill, which aims to protect members of the LGBTQ+ community from gender and sexual discrimination. So far, there have been events within the University educating students and faculty about this bill, such as “So, Gie?” a series of lectures about the bill.
Billie Lorica, President of PARADA, believes that the organization is very important today due to the discrimination and hate that the LGBTQ+ community still face. She believes that their organization provides an avenue for conversations to start and be discussed about. Lorica says, “We, as a community, would like to offer compassion and understanding not only to our members but also to those who question it.”
However, Lorica also believes that within the University, while the community is accepted, there is still much to be improved, citing that the support given is silent and “passive instead of proactive.” She comments, “I think that has been one of the great struggles of PARADA, having an LGBTQ+ organization would be nice to have and [people] would want to be members but seldom do they take action in making it a reality.”
Students have also expressed their stances on the LGBTQ+ community.
“As a Catholic university, La Salle has an environment that allows freedom of expression, as far as gender roles are concerned, and openness towards the LGBTQ+ community as a whole,” Yanni Prestosa (III, MEM-MR) expressed. “I think we remain to not have a full understanding, though, about the LGBTQ+.” There’s still an expectation for gays to act ‘feminine’, and for lesbians to have ‘boy-cut hairstyles’, and I think that’s a reflection of the country’s society’s view of these people,” she added.
In terms of expectations for what the University may plan for this month’s possible highlight, EJ Baillo (III, IE) was hopeful for a week-long celebration of Pride Month. “Siguro a pride walk, and all the colleges will participate or tie-up with universities in the vicinity,” he expounded.
Capping off the month, this year’s Pride March will be held in Marikina on June 30. It will serve as a festival, and will be attended by members and advocates of the LGBTQ+ community, together celebrating every color of the rainbow.