History and Culture
Pride March 2015: Filipino LGBTQs Make History in Luneta
Christa De La Cruz | Jun 29, 2015
Situated by the Manila Bay and adjacent to the walled city of Intramuros, the Luneta National Park is an important site in Philippine history.
It was where Jose Rizal, one of the nation's greatest heroes, was executed on December 30, 1896. It was where the Declaration of Philippine Independence from the United States on July 4, 1946 took place. It was where Filipino Catholics gathered during the visit of Pope John Paul II in January 1995 and Pope Francis in January 2015. It was where the 2005 Southeast Asian Games had its opening and closing ceremonies.
This park named after a pioneer of Philippine freedom was also the site of the 21st Metro Manila Pride March held last June 27, 2015. The starting point was at the Lapu-Lapu Monument, a statue in honor of the native Visayan chieftain who was the first native to resist Spanish colonization.
More than 2000 individuals comprising of LGBTQs (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgenders, Queers) and allies assembled under the mid-afternoon sun for a revolution much like the revolution undertaken by those before us, a revolution to reclaim our rights. It has been said time and again: LGBT rights are Filipino rights, LGBT rights are human rights.
From Taft Avenue to Padre Faura St. to Roxas Blvd. to Padre Burgos Ave., and finally back to the Sentinel of Freedom, thousands of Filipinos marched for the recognition, promotion, and fulfillment of everyone’s rights.
An LGBT History of Our Own
Around the world, LGBT communities recognize June as Pride Month. Various events, from solidarity gatherings to city-wide marches, are held to commemorate the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City on June 28, 1969, a significant moment in modern LGBT social movement. At the time, even progressive America tolerated LGBT violence. Police raids on gay-frequented establishments like Stonewall were common. But on that night in June, the LGBT patrons fought back.
Here in our country, the 1990s saw an emergence of LGBT organizations. The first Pride March was held on June 26, 1994 at the Quezon City Memorial Circle through the efforts of ProGay Philippines (est. 1993) and the Metropolitan Community Church (est. 1992). More than a Stonewall remembrance, the march was a protest against the imposition of the Value Added Tax (VAT). With this, the Philippines gained the distinction of being the first country in Asia and the Pacific to host a Pride-related parade. In 1999, Task Force Pride (TFP) was established as the official convenor of the annual community-driven Metro Manila Pride March.
The Metro Manila Pride March was eventually moved to December in 2003 to coincide with other key dates in the LGBT calendar: World AIDS Day (Dec. 1), National Lesbian Day (Dec. 8), and International Human Rights Day (Dec. 10). The Pride March then became Pride Season, a six-month long celebration of pride and diversity.
This year, the Metro Manila Pride March itself jumpstarts the half-a-year Pride Season.
Of course, we can't help but celebrate SCOTUS' legalization of same-sex marriage across all states—a sliver of hope for most of us.
Fight For Love
With the theme "Fight For Love: Iba-Iba. Sama-Sama," the nation is reminded that the fight for LGBT rights as Filipino rights as human rights is deeply rooted on caring for persons at the core of the struggle. It is a call for the Philippines to recognize and listen to the voices of the LGBT people—human beings who should be protected by the same rights as everyone else, human beings who are not second-class citizens.
Some issues raised were the passage of the Anti-Discrimination Bill; persisting LGBT discrimination in school, hospitals, workplace, and other services; increase in cases of hate crimes in the Philippines; lack of SOGIE awareness in mainstream media; and the neverending "stoning" led by some churches.
In solidarity, NGOs (both LGBTs and allies), LGBT-friendly corporations, and Christian churches gave inspiring messages and words of hope as everyone pushes on with the fight for love.
What Pride Looks Like in the Philippines
Merriam-Webster defines PRIDE as "a feeling that you respect yourself and deserve to be respected by other people."
Once a year, we celebrate just that. RESPECT for everyone around us: your son, your daughter, your brother, your sister, your mother, your father, your relatives, your co-worker, your bestfriend, and the list goes on. And we do it in our most fabulous selves.
From my fabulous LGBT family to yours, happy pride!
(Check out the gallery above for more photos of the Metro Manila Pride March 2015.)