When Pride month rolls every June, the LGBTQ+ community and our allies gear up to celebrate our identity and humanity while preparing to protest against discrimination and systemic oppression. It’s a season when LGBTQ+ issues take center stage, when every gay anthem becomes a protest song, and when every rainbow becomes a political statement.
But what happens afterwards when the glitter, feathers, and confetti are swept away?
LGBTQ+ Filipinos still have to face the harsh realities of their everyday lives. Discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression is still rampant in workplaces, schools, and public venues. One long-proposed measure to protect the LGBTQ+ community, the SOGIE (Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity or Expression) equality bill, was not passed during the 17th Congress. (READ: [OPINION] Life without bullies? Why Senate must pass anti-discrimination bill)
Worse yet are the continuing acts of violence against our community, especially those working on the frontlines to defend LGBTQ+ rights. (READ: [OPINION] Someday they will understand why we hold each other’s hands)
On April 23, 2019, 25-year-old Rica Reyes, leader of an LGBTQ+ group in Babag, Cebu City, was found dead in a ravine. Another LGBTQ+ activist and human rights advocate, Ryan Hubilla, 22, was gunned down in Sorsogon this year. He died on June 15, right in the middle of Pride Month. (READ: IN PHOTOS: LGBTQ+ community, allies hold Pride parade in Bacolod City)
Now that Pride Month is coming to an end, we need to focus on the follow-through of what we chant about and march for in our protests. Now, more than ever, we must continue to spark discourse on gender and sexual orientation. (READ: How gay seafarer Dyosa Makinista proved she’s ‘queen of the seas’)
Whether you identify as LGBTQ+ or as an ally, you have more than enough options to keep fighting for equality and acceptance.
Here are my 5 suggestions to make every month Pride Month:
Have conversations with and about LGBTQ+ people and issues. Cliché as it may seem, it can be as simple as listening and talking to each other about things that matter. Conversations are an easy way to raise awareness levels even when the media spotlight and public attention aren’t focused on LGBTQ+ issues.
Let’s advocate for LGBTQ+ policies. Our oppression is systemic. These systems control our lives and rob us of our rights, freedoms, and dignity. Our newly-elected government officials will soon take office. Let’s make sure that they hear our demands for the national SOGIE Equality Bill and let’s fight for LGBTQ+ policies at the local level as well. (READ: 3 ways companies can promote SOGIE Equality bill in the workplace)
Attend or host events that are LGBTQ+ inclusive. Pride events can and do happen all the time, just as any event can also include people of any SOGIE. You can support films, art, music, talks, and other work by LGBTQ+ Filipinos. If you organize events yourself, why not consider featuring LGBTQ+ artists, performers, and speakers? Let’s celebrate, and celebrate with Pride.
Join organizations that share your vision and aspirations. Connect with fellow advocates within your community in efforts to discuss, educate, and campaign for the rights of the LGBTQ+ Filipinos. Pride started off as a riot and a campaign for political advancement. Let’s build on the work of past LGBTQ+ activists and let’s continue to advocate for equality together. (READ: Beyond Pride march, advocates urge LGBTQ+ community to #ResistTogether)
Continue supporting LGBTQ+ business owners, writers, and artists. Systemic discrimination can limit the economic opportunities of many members of the LGBTQ+ community. When money is there to talk, make sure you put your money in good hands. Let’s support LGBTQ+ businesses, works, and events so that the community not only survives, but thrives. (READ: Meet the ‘kagaywads: How Tondo’s LGBT leaders find acceptance)
We still have a long way to go in fighting for acceptance. One month of Pride is not enough when the LGBTQ+ community still experiences violence and discrimination all year round.
Pride doesn’t have to end in June. Let’s work together to make every month Pride Month for everyone. – Rappler.com
Floyd Scott Tioganco is a human rights activist and a member of DAKILA – Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism.
This piece is part of a series of articles by youth leaders of #WeTheFuturePH, a movement of young Filipinos standing up for human rights and democracy. It seeks to advocate for the youth’s vision and concerns towards a rights-based governance agenda in the 2019 elections and beyond.