All colors of the rainbow found home once again as the LGBTQ+ community of Metro Manila celebrated Pride on June 30th of 2018 at the Marikina Sports Complex. With 25,000 attendees and over 200 participating organizations, groups and companies, this year’s Metro Manila Pride saw a 225% increase in attendance from 2017.
Children of Kids Nutrition Campaign, and volunteer teachers of Secular Humanist Advocacy Development & Education (SHADE) of Humanist Alliance Philippines, International (HAPI) turned out to celebrate 24 years of Philippine Pride activism, and to express support for the passage of an anti-discrimination bill that champions the LGBTQ+ people’s sexual orientation, gender identity and expression (SOGIE).
An afternoon program saw performances of acapella group The Bearytones, ethnic jazz singer Ja Quintana, and drag queen Dee Dee Marie Holiday. Speeches from special guests followed, including Marikina chief executive Marcelino Teodoro and representatives of organizations under the Lagablab Network.
As the parade started, anti-LGBTQ+ protesters expressed their disgust by flashing signs that cite the Bible. Unperturbed, the marchers went on to enjoy what seemed to be the proudest parade ever. The downpour gave the protesters a deserved downtime, but it did not stop the rainbow flags and their bearers from shining even brighter.
A jump-off from 2017 Pride’s message of coming together, this year’s celebration was about rising up together. “Rising up” means doing more for the community such as pushing for policies that take into consideration the contributions and rights of LGBTQ+ people, and becoming an empathetic human being.
Metro Manila Pride 2018 came just a few days after the Supreme Court, in a historic first, tackled same-sex marriage. In May 2015, new Philippine Bar passer Jesus Falcis III filed a petition seeking to legalize same-sex marriage in the predominantly Catholic Philippines. In the almost 3-decade-old Family Code, same sex marriage is prohibited. The petition argued that limiting civil marriage — and the rights that go with it — to heterosexuals violate the guaranteed protection for equal treatment, undue interference to liberty rights, and marital autonomy.
Also, the petition cited that same-sex marriage is “of transcendental importance to the nation because of the millions of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Filipinos all over the country who are deprived from marrying the one they want or the one they love… Those who pursue same-sex relationships despite the stigma are deprived of the bundle of rights that flow from a legal recognition of a couple’s relationship: visitation and custody rights, property and successional rights, and other privileges accorded to opposite-sex relations.”
Highlighting the need for a more inclusive society, the plea is the first known legal action of its kind before the Philippine Supreme Court. The limitations imposed by the 1987 Family Code repealed the 1949 Civil Code, which never made the distinction of an opposite-sex only marriage. As expected, the petition has been a legal dilemma that drew varied commentaries, with Catholic prelates condemning gay marriages, even claiming that priests who administer such marriages must be liable under the law.
The petition further argued that “heterosexuals are no better parents than homosexuals” just as “homosexuals aren’t necessarily worse parents than heterosexuals.” Such unfair prohibition has no place in a country where “procreation” is not a legal requirement in the formation of a family.
Although many conservatives still believe that homosexuality is immoral, the general attitude towards the LGBTQ+ community has become increasingly tolerant since the first ever gay Pride parade of 1994, but challenges continue amid the dwindling church attendance and a relatively low level of reliance on religion and superstitious beliefs.
In a gradual but important turn of events, the LGBTQ+ community has become more visible to the mainstream society, thanks to the phenomenal success of the likes of talkshow host Boy Abunda, child wonder-turned-balladeer Aiza Seguerra, protégé Jake Zyrus, TV entertainer Vice Ganda, and pop culture comedians. The movement has since gone further in fighting stereotypes and generalizations.
Metro Manila Pride is not only a gathering within the LGBTQ+ community, but also a collective expression of support by human rights supporters and private allies outside the community.
Nonetheless, the Philippines has always had a peculiar relationship with the LGBTQ+ people, with them being commonly fit into stereotypes. For example: while butch lesbian security officers and effeminate comedians are tolerated, a gay man joining a basketball association would surely be a controversy.
Anti-discrimination and anti-gender-based violence ordinances have been passed in key cities of the Philippines since 2012. Local governments and civic societies are doing their part, but Congress is expected to not turn a blind eye to the abuses and discrimination suffered by the LGBTQ+ community.
A jampacked evening program capped off the Pride celebration, with more performances and speeches that promoted love and kindness in and out of the LGBTQ+ community. However, what was more amazing about this year’s rainbow party is the participation of same-sex parents who brought their children as proof that happy families happen whenever we choose to make true love happen. Celebrities like TV/film actresses Iza Calzado and Janine Gutierrez were also seen among the crowd in their simple but graceful Pride outfits.
Perhaps their funnest Pride celebration so far, the children of Kids Nutrition Campaign were center of attraction as they formed a human carousel using rainbow and HAPI flags that amused on-lookers and press photographers.
Standing and fighting for equal rights for all human beings through peaceful dialogue, regardless of religious or political doctrine is a mission of HAPI. The LGBTQ+ community can rely on secular Humanists to always be behind them in their every effort to be productive and rightful members of the Filipino society.
Metro Manila member
Public Relations Officer
National Events Director
Currently in between careers, he busies himself with anything that works for the good of humanity. Other than being a Humanist, he is a realist, an art aficionado, a frugal foodie and a weary wanderer. He looks forward to working in the central government.