Why Gay Pride celebrations still exist

Shakira Sison
We march for the hope that who we are, what our families look like, who we love and how we act will no longer disqualify us from fair treatment and equal rights.

Nobody remembers Stonewall, the riots that paved the way for the modern day Pride Parade. If anything, its mention has a recall just like any Western idea or historical event. As pivotal as the riots were in those days, they have been forgotten by younger gay people who have become used to queerness not being as difficult. 

“The Pride March is a parade now, with all these fun floats and costumes,” said my friends who are in their sixties and have been in New York all their lives. “It’s easy to forget that back in our twenties, if you marched on the streets holding hands, you could be beaten or shot.” That was New York City, and back then pride marches used to be a somber occasion of protest. In recent years it has turned into a celebration that welcomes all people to come out in support of the LGBT community. It’s often festive, racy, and loud, and is tolerated in major cities around the world.

Now that marriage equality is likely going to be a reality throughout the US within the next decade, I guess it’s fair to say we’ve come very far. In the Philippines, LGBTQs are considered “accepted” because they have a presence in mainstream media and hold prominent positions in society, whether or not they are out.

Gays in the Philippines are better off? 

It’s true that gays in the Philippines have a far easier time than those in UgandaRussia, or the Middle East. The Pew Research Center has even gone as far as naming the Philippines the most gay-friendly country in AsiaI can write this article without any fear of being arrested for gay propagandaand I may kiss my wife in the middle of a crowded mall in Manila without much more than amused stares around us.

So I hear it all the time. Why the need for a LGBT Pride March? Why isn’t there a straight parade? Why does the LGBT community need to make so much noise? If gays and straights can co-exist in Philippine society, why do they need to go out on the streets and dress in costumes and stand in floats? Why can’t they just be quiet about their sexuality?

Purpose of pride celebrations

Every June (or December in the Philippines), gay people and their supporters come together to celebrate their pride in themselves and each other. We create safe spaces for ourselves (such as parades) to welcome those who might otherwise be scared to make themselves visible without our power in numbers. Contrary to popular opinion, we are not celebrating our sexuality, or claiming to be better than straights, or asking for more rights and benefits than what everyone else already has. We celebrate diversity – the differences in our appearances and personalities – and love in all forms.

LGBTQ Pride celebrations show gay youth that people like them exist and that they have someone to turn to even if they are oppressed in their homes, schools and jobs. (READ: Gay and proud all year round)

We are not rubbing anything in anyone’s faces, but merely celebrating our right to live freely the way you do everywhere daily. We claim our right to hold our partner’s hand in public, and exist in society wearing what we want and looking the way we do, without hiding. Even just for one parade. Imagine for a second that you could only live freely once a year. Doesn’t it sound absurd?

This is why there is no “straight pride” parade. Everyday heterosexual relationships are celebrated and a straight person is free to live and love however they want. 

Our work is not done

Homosexuality is still illegal in 81 countries  in the world. In 10 countries, homosexuality is still punishable by death. In the liberal city and gay mecca that is New York, hate crimes against gays doubled in 2013 from the previous year. (READ: LGBT rights are human rights)

1 in 10 LGBT Filipino youthhas experienced physical assault in their homes. Teens are still kicked out of their homes, bullied, beaten, or raped by their peers. Students are still expelled and employees still lose their jobs from allegations that they are gay. Hate crimes are on the rise and it isn’t unusual to blame the victim 

We are still called sick. We are still called abnormal and sinful. Local doctors still think that homosexuality and transgenderism are diseases. Celebrities still openly believe that their effeminate sons should be changed. 

A yearly chance

Once a year, the LGBT community gets a chance to show the rest of society that we are around you more than you think. Our families are your families, and our parents and children are also your own.

We march for freedom and pride, and for the sadness that we cannot feel that free and that proud any other day of the year.

We march for the hope that who we are, what our families look like, who we love and how we act will no longer disqualify us from fair treatment and equal rights. 

Happy Pride, Pinoys! – Rappler.com

The Manila Pride March will be held at Remedios Circle, Malate, Manila on Saturday, December 6th. Pride Street Fair opens at 2:30 pm. The march will assemble at 3 pm and commence at 4 pm.

 

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