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The Manila Pride March 2009

On December 6, 2009, I attended Asia’s oldest Gay pride march in Manila. As my second time of attendance, my first time was in 2007, I knew what it felt like to be part of the community. I know every attendance in the march is another experience. It was.

I went on through a FX taxi cab and dropped myself at Remedios in Malate, Manila. I arrived 3:30 pm at the circle. There were already crowds preparing for the march and the first thing that I did was to seek familiar faces that I met before. I recognized Father Richard Mickley, an Anglican priest whom I approached instantly. Soon I met people from the ProGay. There was Marlon Lacsamana, a strong soul who was ousted from a college where he worked way back for having a wedding event with another man. I also met other gay people from the Gay Men’s Support Group, Quezon City.

I find this year’s march interesting. I am attentive to the political aspect of the march considering next year’s election and to the recent dis-accreditation of Ang Ladlad partylist from the COMELEC (Commission on Election).

But all through the event I still am pondering about my involvement to the march. Before I went out from my room I prepared an outfit that I can wear. I designed a shirt which was intended for last year’s march but due to circumstances I was not able to go to the march.

I was able to wear the shirt for this year’s pride march. It was a black shirt with a nine pointed star design on front with hues of rainbow pride colors plus white. Out from each rays are the letters D-I-V-E-R-S-I-T-Y which fit the exact 9 numbers.

I brought myself as a gay man and as a Baha’i to the march which may seem awkward to some members of my religious community. I did. I registered myself as an individual participant which led me to another worry, finding a contingency. Everyone is heating up their excitement for the march and groups are beginning to pile up. A gay friend asked me as to what contingent would I be joining in and I jokingly answered,” I’ll just be like a butterfly transferring from one flower to another”. During the march I temporarily joined in with the Wiccan gay community since Marlon L. was there and then passing through the Amnesty International group, the contingent from the Commission on Human Rights and finally I went on with Father Richard’s group to the end of the march.

A group of Christian fundamentalists was getting more noticeable as we headed from Remedios to Roxas blvd. which confirms the unusual experience this year. I encountered these groups four times at the whole duration of the march. We get out ourselves out of their way by answering and joking back to their nasty calls.

The march finally ended at Orosa, Malate where there was a prepared program. Various groups addressed themselves for solidarity at the stage. Some prayed while some can’t help pour in their angst over the fundamentalists they encountered a while ago. Danton Remoto of the Ang Ladlad Partylist took part part in pouring his angst over the COMELEC. Women politicians like Liza Maza and Riza Hontiveros voiced out their support for the community. People were clapping and shouting their names out for support.

As I go over and stayed until the end of the program I felt the sense of responsibility and the need for courage. Never before did I have this since I came out using my personal web/blog site 6 years ago. The corner of Orosa-Nakpil street in Malate is where gay bars are mostly situated. You see topless men and transsexuals flaunt out their best. You see different faces and sizes of gay people but most are straight–acting gay men.

But there was something more to this place. Something I felt when I first visited it. It felt like a safe sanctuary. But this sanctuary is targeted for people who only go out at night from work to hang-out with other gay men. This sanctuary is not the working places, schools, public building which I go to in Quezon City. If only this two-street sanctuary could extend its way much bigger than my own room and my comfort room. As I move ahead out of this place, this responsibility and courage continues to remain until I go back again next year.


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