By Marie Francia
“I just feel so real being with people who understands my feelings,” writer, vlogger, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity or Expression (SOGIE) Advocate and host of the Pride Fest Mela Franco Habijan answered when we asked her about the importance of marching with pride.
Clouds were grey the afternoon of the last Saturday of June, but the throng of people that filled the streets of Marikina on the way to city sports complex painted the town not just red, but different colors of the rainbow. From flags of all sizes, statement shirts, elaborate dresses, and even headpieces, it had all the elements of a celebration. It didn’t matter if it was drizzling–the most important thing was that they got to parade with heads up high and crowns—real or imagined—in place. There was no amount of rain or cold stares that could stop the rest of the carousers from belting out Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” or Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” while marching across McDonalds Avenue and W. Paz Street.
It was the 2nd Metro Manila Pride Fest. Coming from the 8,000 attendees last year, the crowd increased to 25,000 this year. It was a day filled with play unicorn horns and “free hug” signs that made the festival feel warm and welcoming. Powerful spoken word and song numbers from loud and proud LGBT community members took over the stage leaving the crowd with nothing but feels and a whole lot of oohs and awws.
“I feel like it’s my birthday. It’s that one time of the year especially in a country like the Philippines, where I can truly be myself and be happy,” Baka Bukas director Sam Lee said. Famous photographer and a proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community BJ Pascual also shared, “I think it’s always important to speak out and say something. So I think this is the perfect platform for everyone to shout that ‘Hey, we deserve equal rights as you guys!’”
And while the Pride Fest is a celebration of diversity in love and expression, straight allies of the LGBTQIA+ community were also present at the event to pledge their support and acceptance for their friends and family who either just came out of the closet or have been openly queer since the beginning.
Here’s what transpired at the Metro Manila Pride Fest 2018 and why we’re all excited to be part of it again next year!
ALSO READ: #LiveYoung: What Does Coming Out Mean To You?