Pride in the first Pride March

Manila Bulletin - - Views • Features - By TONYO CRUZ Fol­low me on Twit­ter @tony­ocruz and check out my blog tony­ocruz. com

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!

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