On June 24, I went to the Pride March with a mindset that all I’d see are sassy queens and their no holds barred clapbacks (an effect of my frequent viewing of Ru Paul’s Drag Race)—but when I got there and watched them from the sidelines, it hit me that they are not characters from a well thought out series that will represent every letter in the LGBTQIA+. They are real people and they represent themselves when the media fails to do so, and I am writing this to let people know that when I attended (well, more of watched) the Pride March, it changed how I see this diverse community that Filipinos need to include and accept.
When someone utters the words bakla, tibo, silahis, or any other word that people relate to the LGBTQIA+ community, we unfortunately have a stereotypical image of what they look like. When people say tibo, we usually think of a woman dressed in a man’s clothing. True, sometimes, that’s right. When people say bakla, I bet you’d imagine a crossdresser. Yes, there are gay men that are like that, but not all. In short, I realized that it is as simple as no human is a perfect reflection of another. We are all different—some are eerily similar, but still different.
Thank heavens for the LGBT representation in foreign media, I was given the chance to learn that people are more than how they identify themselves because TBH, local mainstream media is only beginning to recognize diverse characters that represent the LGBT community.
I knew all that before I even went to the Pride March, but seeing it for myself—it just became perfectly clear and real to me. That the kaleidoscope-colorful community that I have only seen watching Queer as Folk is around me. And as the gayest day in Manila turned into night, I let myself be engulfed in the community that I am still in awe to find really exists. Because how could you not let the overflowing love and happiness that you see every single time you open your eyes take over you? That’s what I felt when I attended. The energy allowed you to let loose and shake every inhibition from your mind. Every stranger you passed by smiled at you saying “Happy Pride!” and there are times when I felt so elated and so overwhelmed by the almost palpable love and support people show to one another. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.
Yes, there may have been protesters during the entire program, but you know what they say? Love trumps hate. When I let it sink in for a couple of days and pondered it the whole day, there are questions I would want these protesters to answer:
How could you hate a community who just wants to love without judgement? How could you promote God’s love by actually spreading the entire opposite? Why would you rather believe in miracles that you didn’t even see with your own eyes than to believe that it is possible for a woman to love a woman and a man to love another?
If there’s anything I learned from the Pride March, we should all try to make every month Pride Month for the LGBTQIA+ community and be #HereTogether every day of our lives. It was eye-opening and life-changing for me, to say the least. While it took a while for me to pen my thoughts, I’m still glad I went—and I would do so again in the next years.
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Photographs courtesy of Camille Dato.