By AARON THOMAS L. DE GUIA
RAINBOW FLAGS, merchandise, and dresses flooded Marikina Plaza de los Alcaldes on Saturday as almost 7,500 members and supporters of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) community gathered for this year’s Metro Manila Pride March.
Proud marchers and organizations, cheering “Happy Pride!” walked along the streets of Shoe Avenue, Sumulong Highway, and Mayor Gil Fernando Avenue.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros, an advocate of LGBTQ rights, urged the participants to fight for the “victims of hate.”
“We assert the safe space of your community and celebrate the struggle under the banner of equality. […] We march for the kids who get bullied in school; we march for those who cannot,” Hontiveros said.
“We march for Jennifer Laude who was murdered in a classic trans-panic excuse. We march for Jake Zyrus (Charice Pempengco), [who was] ridiculed by many for his brave transition.”
The senator also criticized the current administration for its way of handling LGBTQ community-related issues.
“The Duterte government’s attitude towards this problem is also troubling,” Hontiveros said. “While many governments chose to respond positively and pro-actively to this issue, the Philippine government has chosen to default.”
‘Here Together’ Against Hate
With the theme “Here Together,” Metro Manila Pride March advocated for a ‘safe space’ this year.
Loreen Ordoño, head organizer of the event, said the theme serves as a reminder to the LGBTQ community that the Pride March is a celebration where they can be their “true selves.”
“Metro Manila Pride is a safe space for you. This is a safe, informative, [and] empowering space where you […] can express yourself freely, you can love freely,” Ordoño told the Flame.
“[F]or this year, even if you feel discrimination at home, at your office, or at school, you go to [the] Metro Manila Pride,” she added. “[T]o go on that road of being the best versions of themselves, they need to be free from all discrimination and hate that society throws us.”
However, along the entrance of the Pride March area, a family raised tall crucifixes and called the existence of LGBTQ “a ticket to hell.”
“We obey; it’s a commandment. […] Anyone outside the grace of God, sorry to say, honestly, will go to hell,” John Dablo, a family member, said.
The first Pride March in the country was held in Quezon City in 1994 and was since celebrated annually. F