The first thing I noticed was how different we all were.
Rain was forecasted on the day of Metro Manila Pride and fell intermittently throughout the day. Still, at the Marikina Sports Center, under the umbrellas and raincoats, I saw tank tops, overalls, wigs and heels. I saw parents with their babies, groups of boys and girls, a thousand pairs of people, grown men and older women. Shy glances and open smiles. Handwritten signs of all kinds. Different flags for different tribes. It felt like a day out or a large family reunion, but it was more than that as well.
Pride itself started 50 years ago at the 1969 Stonewall Riots in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, as a protest against police brutality by members of the New York City LGBTQ community. In the decades since, it has shifted towards themes of celebration and visibility, going with increasingly tolerant mainstream views.
However, marriage equality exists in only a handful of countries. Most religions police overt displays of identity. Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer people are still arrested, disowned, assaulted, raped, or killed specifically for their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. The violence towards them comes from strangers, religious groups, the state, and sometimes their own families. Every Pride march grapples with this paradox of celebrating the community’s diversity while asserting its claims to acceptance, equal protection, and rights.
"One day I won't have to wear a mask"
The challenge some see for Pride has been how to balance the hard-earned joyfulness of coming together with the resistance that continues to guide the movement. As it rained that day in Marikina, I saw both go hand in hand. For some people, coming was an act of bravery in itself; we photographed people who came alone, and talked to subjects who declined to be identified. To others, they came on behalf of communities who couldn’t be present. Some came simply for themselves.
Pride is both a celebration of the community and an act of resistance and solidarity.
Swelling from 7,000 attendees in 2017 to 70,000 in 2019, Metro Manila Pride is many things, made up of many faces. We spent the day photographing some of them. I wish one of the faces we photographed reminds you of your own.
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