A week before the Pride March, a blanket of gray clouds hovered the Metro Manila sky. The sun’s warmth was hardly felt with the rain’s constant downpour.
Come Friday night, postponing the Pride event became a discussion on social media. Fear loomed over the organizers and supporters as the weather remained uncooperative. But fear isn’t something the LGBTQ+ community is known for. People from all colors of the rainbow were willing to brave the rain to celebrate love and show their solidarity with the movement.
This year’s Pride celebration recognizes its roots as a mass action – a protest to fight for equal rights and end discrimination in all forms. In Metro Manila, the overarching theme of the Pride celebration is #ResistTogether – a homage to the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York, the uprising that fueled the Pride Movement. It is bolder and angrier, departing from the comforting theme of the previous years’ #RiseTogether (2018) and #HereTogether (2017). But such indignation is justifiable given the inaction of lawmakers on the Anti-Discrimination Bill—which has been pending in Congress for more than a decade—and the injustices done to other marginalized sectors. The local theme resonates the global call of ending violence and oppression against members of the LGBTQ+ community as some countries continue to penalize people whose sexuality deviates from their social norms.
I’ve been fortunate to witness how Metro Manila Pride March has grown since I first decided to openly take part in the celebration. It has become a tradition for me and my friends to march and celebrate Pride in the streets of Marikina City. But this year was different. It felt like it was my first time even though I’ve been attending the Pride March for the past three years.
Unlike last year and the year before that, my celebration of Pride was no longer limited with my friends. I used to envy people who join the Pride event in their coordinated corporate tees, showing the full support of their respective companies and organizations. This year, albeit the lack of a corporate float and gimmickry, I proudly marched the Pride parade as part of a company that embraces the culture of Pride through its inclusive policies, supportive management, and provision of capacity building opportunities on gender equality and SOGIE.
Unlike last year and the year before that, I saw no rainbow beaming over the Marikina Sports Center. Instead, the vibrance of the rainbow manifested through the tens of thousands of people donned in different hues who freely expressed their identities.
Unlike last year and the year before that, the number of LGBTQ+ members and allies who took part in the March tripled to 70,000, beating its record from the past Pride events. The streets of Marikina City, infamously known for its flood, were not filled with water, but with people celebrating love and diversity.
Unlike last year and the year before that, the clamor for equality and call to end discrimination have become stronger and louder. This comes with the Marikina City Council’s historic passage of a SOGIE-based anti-discrimination ordinance with the hope that the national government will follow suit.
The true celebration of Pride starts when the colorful festivities have died down. It continues in the absence of rainbows due to gray skies. It continues when the rainbow flags have been taken down. It continues even after corporations have stopped selling their limited-edition rainbow products. Pride is an everyday movement to fight for equality in our homes, our schools, our workplace, and our society.