In history, the LGBT Pride March is a daring political statement, anchored on the Stonewall Riots which happened on June 28, 1969.
By ANNE EDNALYN DELA CRUZ
MANILA — While the Philippine lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) movement has seemingly reached new heights – with annual pride parades, strong clamor for the passage of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Equality bill, and more LGBT individuals making their marks in their respective fields – the pressing societal issues that both LGBT and non-LGBT are confronted with suggest that LGBT struggle is indeed far from over.
Oftentimes, the public and even some LGBT organizations and advocates, knowingly or not, limit the LGBT struggle to same-sex marriage, SOGIE recognition, and mere celebration of sexuality and individuality. While these are, of course, important in ensuring that members of the LGBT community are respected and celebrated for who and what they are, these also, unfortunately, separate the struggle of the LGBT from that of the rest of society.
Bahaghari Metro Manila (BHMM), a multi-sectoral, progressive and nationalist LGBT organization in the country, dares to close that invisible gap that separates the people’s struggle from that of the LGBT community. In many of the statements that BHMM released since it was established, it has consistently challenged progressive LGBT individuals, advocates, and organizations to take political stand on issues like poverty, unemployment and contractualization, human rights abuses, resumption of peace talks, among others. Likewise, it urged them to join mass actions and bring the LGBT struggle back to the streets where it all started.
BHMM uses as inspiration the militance of LGBT activists of Stonewall Riots and as a reminder that the LGBT movement has always been political. In history, the LGBT Pride March is a daring political statement, anchored on the Stonewall Riots which happened on June 28, 1969. The riots, which was led by black, brown and working class transgender people, marked the first major militant demonstration for LGBT rights against the fascist and capitalist state in the history of the United States.
Similarly, in the Philippines, the first LGBT Pride March was held in 1994 led by Progressive Organizations of Gay in the Philippines (Progay Philippines) and Metropolitan Christian Church (MCC) – Quezon City. LGBT organizations and individuals paraded then with calls to promote gender equality and protest the regressive Value Added Tax (VAT).
Today, BHMM makes an effort to join and be in solidarity with the struggle of other sectors. It has joined mass actions on lumad killings, workers’ rights, resumption of peace talks, human rights abuses, among others. Because at the end of the day, LGBT individuals do not exist in a vacuum, they are part of the masses and they belong to various sectors – workers, youth, peasants, national minority and urban poor.
BHMM moves forward with more plans, members
Last September 7-8, 2018, the BHMM held its second general assembly at the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, Quezon City. Members and guests from other Bahaghari chapters and LGBT organizations in the country attended the activity. Several discussions were also held which were led by some notable personalities: LGBT veteran activist Oscar Atadero, a pioneer in the LGBT movement in the country, LGBT advocate Dr Judy Taguiwalo, former directress of UP Center for Women and Gender Studies, and Kabataan Partylist representative Sarah Elago.
New set of officers were also elected during the two-day activity: Chairperson – Det Neri, Vice-chairperson – Kyle Atienza, Secretary General – Katherine Lagman, and Treasurer – Mich Lado.
Apart from that, resolutions were also presented and adopted by the body during the plenary. Among these resolutions were the approval of BHMM membership of Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA), the opposition of BHMM to TRAIN Law, expansion of BHMM to some universities and colleges, BHMM campaign against contractualization, and support to national minority.
BHMM joins alliance against dictatorship and tyranny
The BHMM agreed to join the broad alliance of LGBT organizations and individuals in time for martial law commemoration. The Queers Resisting Tyranny (QRT) is an alliance of freedom- and democracy-loving LGBT organizations and individuals in the Philippines united to oppose any attempts of historical revisionism and the rise of a new tyrant, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
As for its first activity, QRT will launch Drag 2 Remember, a political art protest to commemorate the 46th year of the declaration of Martial Law today, Sept. 20, at TAuMBAYAN, Quezon City, from 5:00 to 8:00pm.
Bernadette Neri, BHMM chairperson and QRT lead convener said, “The event intends to gather all LGBT activists and supporters who do not only stand against discrimination based on gender but also oppose any attempt to discredit the struggle of martial law victims and survivors and the rise of a new tyrant in the persona of President Rodrigo Duterte.”
Neri added, “QRT chose drag as a form of protest because, for many decades, members of the LGBTQIA+ community have used this to express subversion against heteronormative and heteropatriarchal culture. Apart from that, Drag to Remember also intends to ridicule the extravagant lifestyle of former First Lady and now Ilocos Norte representative Imelda Marcos.”
QRT is the first collective expression of resistance of LGBT in the Philippines against Marcos dictatorship and the rising tyrannical rule of President Duterte. QRT convenors include the following organizations and individuals: BHMM, Kapederasyon, Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA), Open Table – Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), Professor Vladimeir Gonzales, Alex Castro, and worker activist Claire Balabo.