Pride in the first Pride March
THE Philippines holds the fabulous honor of mounting the first ever Pride March in Asia. Held on June 26, 1994, in Quezon City, that first Pride March was led by the Progressive Organization of Gays-Philippines and the Metropolitan Community Church, with about 60 participants.
The marchers carried placards and streamers that proclaimed the fight for equal rights for gay and lesbian rights, alongside slogans on the issues of the day. A Pride Mass officiated by the MCC capped the march at the Quezon Memorial Circle.
In a socially conservative country and continent, that first Pride March was undoubtedly courageous, controversial, and, arguably, revolutionary.
There are archival footages on YouTube from that 1994 Pride March; go look for them. There aren’t lots of photos and videos, to be honest. The Philippines had its first Internet connection only three months earlier. No social media yet, not even camera phones.
The global LGBT community has long honored the Philippines for this 1994 Pride March and its historic place as the first in both the country and continent.
It is ironically in the Philippines where some seek to question and misinterpret that 1994 Pride March. Worse, these historical revisionists come from sections of the LGBT communities.
For instance, a recently published “history” of Philippine LGBT marches branded the 1994 Pride March as “controversial” for being too political and not exclusively centered on LGBT concerns. Others say it wasn’t as fabulous and as colorful as they had hoped.
It is too tempting to brand this brazen historical revisionism as absolute and crazy nonsense. But it is not.
The rumor-mongers will deny it on their way back to their cliques, but these are transparently political statements from those who have a history of rejecting either ProGay or the national democrat activism it stood for, or both. They wish to deny gay and lesbian national democrats that historic honor of being the key organizers of the 1994 Pride March, period.
Parenthetically, and to further prove the point, many LGBT “histories” totally ignore the start in 2005 of full recognition of same-sex relationships and marriage within guerrilla fronts and territories of the Communist Party of the Philippines. One does not need to be a communist to fairly recognize that important LGBT rights milestone achieved by the CPP and Filipino communists.
No, I’m not saying we should always pause and bow to the national democrats and communists in every Pride March to honor their contributions to the cause of LGBT liberation. Only the malicious anti-national democrats and anti-communists would invent that charge.
Today’s LGBT communities should reject any form or attempt at discrimination against LGBTs based on perceived or professed political beliefs. The cause of fairness and fighting discrimination is not served when certain LGBT voices themselves engage in such malicious slander and discrimination, as a pretext for intellectually-dishonest historical revisionism.
This discriminatory anti-Red mindset is at the core of the attacks on the 1994 Pride March.
Other discriminatory and unhealthy ideas by and about LGBTs don’t help either, like what some think as the “proper” actors, acts, or activities befitting a Pride March.
Yes, some unfortunately cannot accept the fact and express pride that the 1994 Pride March featured many “limp-wristed,” cross-dressing, and sward-speaking “parlor” gays, and who looked too proletarian compared with today’s predominantly middleclass marchers.
Perhaps there is no better way to put things in perspective and see the treachery of historical revisionism about the 1994 Pride March than to retrace its origins.
The world’s first Pride March in 1970 was a memorial and tribute to the Stonewall Riots of late June, 1969.
Yes, it was a celebration of riots involving gays, lesbians, and other people who got fed up with police raids on the tiny space they could go to in New York City. The riots had to be celebrated because they expressed the idea of and desire for full equality, and the dignity, capacity, and courage of gays, lesbians, and advocates.
Many gay leaders first derided the Stonewall riots as bad for the cause of “social tolerance, acceptance, and respectability.” A new breed of gay and lesbian leaders and organizations would leap over from this instantly outdated cause. “Pride” would later encapsulate the cause of human dignity, respect, non-discrimination, and equality.
The Philippines’ 1994 Pride March was ProGay’s and MCC’s humble salute to the Stonewall riots and the world’s first Pride March.
For that and for its landmark role in national history, Filipino LGBTs and advocates should claim and tightly embrace that 1994 Pride March.
There should be serious efforts to further document it as a historic milestone for community, country, and continent. Its participants should be individually identified, interviewed, and honored as trailblazers – hopefully while they are still alive. Media photographs and video footages should be solicited. In short, let us have pride in the Philippines’ own first Pride March.
As Filipino LGBTs march today for a future that’s more fair, may there be fairness too when LGBTs look to the past. Fairness is better preached when fairness is practiced.
Salute to the 1994 Pride March! Salute to the 2016 Pride March!