IN PHOTOS: LGBTQ+ community, allies hold Pride parade in Bacolod City
BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – Members and supporters of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ+) in Bacolod City flocked to the Old City Hall on Saturday, June 22, for the Pride parade, where they celebrated the community's resilience and called for equality, freedom, and justice.
This year's march marks the return of Pride to Bacolod City after 4 years and was organized by the youth-led LGBTQ+ organization Tribu Duag, in coordination with Humanist Alliance Philippines, International (HAPI), and Rekindle.
In Metro Manila, the annual Pride march is scheduled on Saturday, June 29. (READ: Metro Manila Pride calls on LGBTQ+, allies to #ResistTogether on June 29)
Event organizer and activist Kyle Anne Villariza said that the Pride parade serves as a mourning, a protest, and a celebration.
"It is a commemoration of all the lives that have been taken away because of who they are. It's a showcase of resistance towards the oppressive and patriarchal society," Villariza said.
A call for justice
Showing their support for the LGBTQ+ community, youth leaders and activists took the frontlines carrying rainbow flags and giant Pride letters.
The parade also called for justice for slain members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Student activist Joshua Villalobos condemned the killing of Ryan Hubilla, a human rights activist from Sorsogon who was shot by unknown gunmen on June 15. Hubilla was an openly gay man and a senior high school student.
Villalobos also recalled the murder of Jennifer Laude, a trans woman who was found dead in a motel room in Olongapo City.
Her companion that night, US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton, had turned violent and dunked her head in the toilet after discovering that she had male genitals. In December 2015, following a long trial, Pemberton was found guilty of homicide in Laude's death.
Organizer Gino Lopez led the crowd in prayer and a minute of silence for the gay and transgender lives lost to hate crimes.
Other speakers urged legislators and allied groups to support the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Equality Bill, or the Anti-Discrimination Bill, in the 18th Congress.
"By having an ordinance for establishing intensive SOGIE programs in our local government unit, I believe we can educate more minds and break the stigma against the community," Akbayan Youth member Charisse Erinn Flores said.
Women's rights advocates Gabriela, Kabataan Partylist, as well as members of the deaf and mute community also showed their support for the LGBTQ+ community by joining the Pride parade.
Bacolod City Councilor Wilson Gamboa also showed his support in front of the congregation, vocally expressing his support for the LGBTQ+ community.
"The LGBT deserve the same rights as anyone else," he said.
Parade of colors
This was echoed by youth activist Manuelito Garcia. For him, the Pride parade gave the LGBTQ+ an avenue to amplify their voices for people in power to hear them.
"This is where we are able to shout it loud to our nation's leaders that we in the LGBTQ+ sector shall be heard," he said.
In 2013, Bacolod City passed an anti-discrimination ordinance that prevents the discrimination of a person based on gender, disability, age, health status, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and religion.
Free Dad Hugs
One striking image at the parade showed Clint Severino, a father who proudly carried a sign saying "Free Dad Hugs."
When asked what motivated him to join the parade, he said his two daughters were his inspiration.
"I've always been a supporter of LGBT rights, but I've done most of that in social media.... It was my daughters who drove me to attend the rally," Severino said.
Severino strongly believes that parents of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender children should not only be accepting but also proud of their children. As more and more people approached him for a hug, he felt sad that so many kids could not find acceptance at home.
According to Severino, one of the biggest hurdles members of the LGBTQ+ community face is discrimination from their own families.
"Every time I would give a hug I would say, 'Your parents should be really proud of you,' and that makes them cry even more.... It just breaks my heart that the part of society that is most discriminated against, the one that needs the most support, is also the one that is most ignored or unsupported by their families," Severino added.
A celebratory night
The event culminated at Tippy's Bistro, a local establishment that hopes to be a safe space for all kinds of patrons.
The program started with a short film on the history of Pride Month and a message from Rayd Espeja of HAPI, then went on to showcase the talents of local performers, dancers, and drag queens in a RuPaul's Drag Race-inspired Lip Sync for Your Life and runway contest.
The event also featured speaker AJ Duatin, a teacher from Bacolod City National High School, who gave an informative presentation on equality, same sex civil union, and the SOGIE bill.
"With every storm this community has endured, Pride still exists because of love.... Love is the persistent force amidst all the hardships and the continuous fight for social justice," Villariza said. – Rappler.com
Mary Jo Baldonado is a Rappler Mover currently based in Bacolod City.