Art by Mags Ocampo
Culture Spotlight

Pride at 50: what the LGBTQ community continues to fight for

Half a century since Stonewall, a lot of people continue to be confused about the supposed “gay agenda.” Here’s a simple explanation. 
Victor John Platon | Jun 28 2019

Thank you for your interest in the LGBTQ moveme...  wait, wait, wait… do not close that browser just yet! By reading further, we promise you that we are not here to convert you into becoming one of us. Gay people aren’t into conversion; you might have mistaken us for Jehovah’s Witnesses. Also, we are not here to sell you life insurance. While it is true that a number of us have reinvented ourselves as financial advisors, I’m afraid that that isn’t the gay agenda.

 

More on rights and protests:

 

The true gay agenda is simply asking other people to empathize with our community. God knows we need all the empathy and support we can get. So, please read on to learn more about our plight.

The modern LGBTQ rights movement arguably began during the early morning of June 28, 1969 when lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer persons rioted following a police raid at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York. The subsequent protests over a number of nights were a watershed moment for the community. This was the birth of Pride.

This year, the global Pride movement is celebrating its 50th. It is already as old as Jennifer Lopez, and just as fabulous. (Have you seen her lately?) For the past five decades, people who identify as part of the rainbow spectrum have used Pride as an avenue. This is where we, as individuals and as a community, can assert and affirm ourselves, and promote our dignity as human beings. In the Philippines, Metro Manila Pride was established in 1994 to provide an avenue for the LGBTQ community—as well as our awesome allies—to celebrate who we are and stage protests about relevant issues that concern us.

 

Rallying cry

Protest. It is easy to forget amidst all that glitter, sequins, and rainbows that Pride is actually a protest. “But what the hell are you protesting about? LGBTQ people are very much accepted in Philippine society!” I hear you say. Okay, first unclutch your pearls and then unclench your buttcheeks. Think about it: Is the LGBTQ community really accepted in Philippine society? 

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1948, enumerates the fundamental human rights that everyone needs to protect. Enforced in 1976, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, an iteration on the UDHR added the following as universal human rights: the right to work in just and favorable conditions; the right to social protection; to an adequate standard of living; and to the highest attainable standards of physical and mental well-being, among others. 

Unfortunately, LGBTQ people in our islands do not enjoy these rights simply because, oh I don’t know, society thinks we have limp wrists and talk with a lisp? Or that lesbians like plaid? If you know the answer, please share it in the comments section below. No need to @ me.

In the Philippines, LGBTQ people have been openly discriminated against because of who we are. 

A United Nations (UN) study revealed that 30 percent of Filipinos who identify as LGBTQ reported being harassed, bullied, or discriminated against by others while at work because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, expression, and sex characteristics.

I should know because I have experienced it myself. I did not get a job that I was being considered for because the company, a multinational one at that, emailed me that “while (I) am very qualified for the job, (they) are a family-oriented organization and (I) would definitely not fit the company culture.” Apparently, as a gay man, the concept of family is foreign to me nor am I currently part of one.

 

Pride and prejudice

Unfortunately, there is no legislation that protects our basic human right to work without being discriminated against for who we are. The SOGIE (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression) Equality Bill, or simply, the Anti-Discrimination Bill (ADB), is yet to be passed in Congress. The bill aims to prevent various economic and public accommodation-related acts of discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression.

We have detractors on all fronts. In March 2018, a small group of Christians protested at the Senate against the SOGIE bill by calling the proposed legislation an “abomination,” adding that homosexuality is allegedly a “sin” citing that their “hate” is allegedly credible because it is supposedly written in the Bible, and that the LGBT community is supposedly a “lifestyle.” The group also falsely claimed that the bill relates to same-sex marriage, which is not found anywhere within the bill.  Two months after, Senator Tito Sotto, who opposes the SOGIE bill, became the new Senate President. In an interview, Sotto was asked on the bill’s passage, to which he responded, “Not in this congress.”

This is just the tip of the iceberg the LGBTQ community is trying to thaw with the little arsenal that we have, chief among them is the Pride March. That is why every June, we as a community stage events, talks, parties, shows and everything else we can find in our kikay kits to remind the world that we exist—and not merely to entertain you, to do your hair and makeup, to design your clothes. 

We are your lawyers, your doctors, your scientists, your teachers, your security guards, your helpers, your flight attendants, your officemates, your friends, your family. And we deserve the same basic human rights as you. We take pride in who we are and in celebrating who we were born to be.