March for those who can’t

Society’s answer to sexual diversity was to create more labels such as patolaspamintas, and closetas. The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) supports the anti-discrimination bill as an “act of charity," not as a right in itself. Presidential candidates have no ambitious plan for the LGBTQIA+ community. Even some within the community discriminate other members (“no effem pls”).

And so despite all of these, we ask: are our efforts not futile? Why do we still march for a cause? We can celebrate our own individuality and then party afterwards, period!

Pride marches are not about you

We march not for ourselves. Certainly what we are is something to be celebrated for. But the pride march was made never for the individual. It was – always and should be – about the movement and the ultimate cause we’re all fighting for.

We march, with pride and with our heads held up high, to remember those who have walked the very path we’ll be walking on. We remember those who have sacrificed much of themselves – their time, dreams, and families – to pave the once-muddy road and fill it with rainbow glitters.

We march because this very same parade gave us the courage to be ourselves despite fear of ignorance, hatred, and humiliation. 

We wave our rainbow flags not only as a celebration of LGBTQIA+ solidarity, but also as a sign of protest: it is high time for Philippine society to recognize that LGBTQIA+ rights are human rights.

This issue of unwarranted exclusion, humiliation, and abuse transcends each and every one of us: all human rights should not be exclusive to a particular sexual orientation or gender identity. It should be enjoyed by all.

We should refuse superficial toleration. We must demand genuine equality that empowers, not excludes. And we demand them in the highest standards: through actual and inclusive legislation that will ensure protection and change in attitudes.

We march for those who are in homophobic environments due to, are forced to subscribe to, and who have taken their lives because of society’s restrictive standards. We march for those who can’t, because we were once not able to. 

But we can only be heard if we are many. Our strength is in numbers. So if you can, regardless of your sexual orientation and gender identity, help pave the way towards the rainbow at the end of the road.

People before us have done so much. We can only do better. Let’s keep waving that rainbow flag and march on. –

Manu Gaspar is a recent graduate of the University of the Philippines - Baguio and a member of Amnesty International Philippines.