Pride is many things一a celebration of love, a fight for rights and justice, and a symbol of freedom. With many layers of anxieties and suffocation, Pride’s call is able to bring down walls to make sure we’re all heard, no matter what.
With battle paint glittering around your eyes and passion smeared on your lips, you have inspired LGBTQIA+ people to this day. We still echo the same songs for justice, and we wear the same colors that colored us outcasts but with pride.
Wherever you are, whoever you may be, we’re still here and the fight has never stopped.
A tale from the closet
It should be common knowledge that Pride is, and has always been, more than just a celebration. It’s a protest for the rights and justice of all members from the LGBTQIA+ community. Pride month is exactly as mentioned, and for some of us, those who still smell like moth balls and newly ironed shirts, it is a phone call that we’ve always wanted to pick up but haven’t felt safe enough to do so.
There are many different experiences that happen inside the closet. For me, it felt more like an empty shell that I kept going back to for specific people, and with my first Pride, it was a big leap outside of it. It was 2019 and my home was hours away from the event. With the help of my closest LGBTQIA+ friends, we were able to slip out of our homes and spend time with the colorful crowd of this community. Lo and behold, that phone call was one of the best moments of my life, thus far.
Sneaking out felt like the only puzzle we had to complete considering the transportation, the planning, and especially our excuses. Once everything fell into place, the entire journey felt liberating. At Pride, it was impossible to not feel the vigor of protest chants, to not laugh uncontrollably with “campy” dances, and to not wipe my tears as I hugged a group of parents who wanted to share a parent’s warmth under that rainy day in June.
And onto the outside world
Back at home and grounded in the present, current events cloud the clear skies of Pride, desperately wanting to rain on the parade we all march in. As a marginalized community, both the current pandemic and the recent divisive elections have magnified these already stressful experiences. Equipped with much needed fortitude from facing LGBTQIA+ problems, we see ourselves in this “new normal” as the same outcasts we’ve always been, just with more to digest on our plates.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected LGBTQIA+ people deeply, especially the closeted youth who have no choice but to be stuck at home. Isolated, cramp, and deafened by bigoted barking一many of us are forced to suppress our authentic selves. I know I am. Although it isn’t all bad, as online communities and digital Pride events have been helping us cope these times.
Meanwhile, after the recent elections, watching Filipinos outwardly support candidates that can’t see the value of your own human rights is heartbreaking. While people in the community and the many allies outside of it can keep each other sane through almost anything, seeing the number of supporters for these politicians can be very daunting. It was at this point wherein we felt the suffocating grip of the closet, our homes, and the outside world all at the same time.
All of this, and yet, I still come back to that rainy day in June of 2019. I come back to the many faces only love can describe, to the parents who wished every one of us received unconditional love. I remember those that came before us and wish they could see us now.
Although I have yet to put out my strongest self into the fight, I’ll wave my flag from inside the closet, preparing for the day I can pick up the phone and shout “Happy Pride!”