The Manila City administration has announced that it will be holding a pride march in April, one that seems separate from the annual march every June. The event touted as “Awra Na,” with the Department of Tourism, Culture and Arts of Manila (DTCAM) is calling participants to “showcase ang diversity sa Lungsod ng Maynila.”
However, the march received backlash after a Twitter user pointed out when someone commented on DTCAM’s post if the march was for the LGBTQ+ community, the page replied “No, kahit ano ka man.” In defense, the Manila Public Information Office clarified that the march is “not only open for the LGBTQ+ community but also to the community’s allies,” adding that it’s for people who “support love and equality, no matter what gender.”
So that’s a lot to unpack.
Here’s the thing: All pride marches welcome allies because they’re important to the community. However, pride isn’t designed to specifically accommodate allies. The point of pride parades is to fight for LGBTQ+ rights and so it’s distinctly a LGBTQ+ event—and being an ally means you don’t take up spaces that aren’t for you. Allies are definitely welcome but it’s not for them. Although I should point out that I’m talking about cisgender and straight allies—allyship is historically a way for queer people in the closet to attend queer events without outing themselves.
Any pride march organizer should already know this. It’s an inherent part of pride, and you need to understand the philosophy to organize it. This is why I can readily say that DTCAM isn’t assembling a pride march.
If you look at the first announcement of the Manila Summer Pride, you’ll notice that If you look at the first announcement of the Manila Summer Pride, there’s zero mention of the LGBTQ+ community. The closest it comes is when it says that the event will “symbolize equality and unity among Manileños of different gender (sic).” That seems to conflate gender with sexuality and gender identity, which are integral to the LGBTQ+ community.
What you do see, and in spades, is tourism. It’s by Manila City’s tourism department, and it’s explicitly part of the city’s tourism campaign. “Join us in this rare opportunity of showcasing to the world the diverse culture of this capital city.” It’s not held to advocate for the queer community, it’s to show that Manila has queer people. Those are not the same things.
Pride is a protest. The first ever march was held in 1970, a year after the Stonewall Riot, to advocate gay liberation. The separate pride marches held in the Philippines in the ‘90s that became the roots of what we now know as Metro Manila Pride March were for queer rights. A pride march that doesn’t call for political action isn’t just toothless, it’s not a pride march at all.
However, the idea of having another pride march aside from the Metro Manila Pride March is a good one. The community deserves more marches. But if you’re holding a march, you need to understand why you’re doing it in the first place. Using queer people to show that your city is diverse is antithetical to the very nature of pride.
Header photo is from our coverage of the 2019 Metro Manila Pride March
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