The first city-wide Davao Pride March 2016 held last June 1 was for me, an absolute success. It was attended by 200 strong and proud members of the LGBTQI community, friends and allies. The walk started at Freedom Park, and convened at People’s Park. It was organized by DAKILA Davao, in cooperation with Davao Rainbow League, Association of Psychologists and Helping Practitioners, Inc (COPERS), UP Mindanao Mentefuwaley, OGASH, Integrated Gender And Development Division (IGDD), Pilipina Legal Resources Center, Inc. and United Lesbians of Davao, Councilor Pilar Cañeda Braga, but there were more hands involved in its success.
There were solidarity messages and spoken word from different speakers. They shared both the wins and losses, positive and negative experiences the community has experienced when it comes to discrimination, coming out, and relationships.
As an ally, these were stories I was all too familiar with. These were stories heard from friends and family. These were stories that have pained me. And although I am a friend, I have never attempted to give any advice. I was after all, an outsider, and while I can imagine the difficulty of belonging to this marginalized sector, all I thought I could do was listen to their story, and offer my empathy. After the Pride March though, I realized that this was not enough.
Why It’s Important to Stand as an Ally
Baste Duterte was supposed to attend the March Pride program and give his own solidarity message but wasn’t able to make it because of a conflict in schedule, but when contacted by one of the speakers, Yna bote, this was the text exchange.
Why am I posting this? It’s not only because of the fame the presidential son is enjoying. I posted this because he makes a good point. And as an influencer, his opinions matter, and his stance is admirable.
There are many out there who believe the same, and who see the LGBTQI community as humans first and foremost. They deserve the same rights heterosexuals enjoy. And when their rights are being trampled upon, it is not only their obligation to fight for it, we have to fight for them.
In an interview and talk with Sir Hadji Balajadia from Ateneo COPERS, he shared a story where he was asked to give advice on how to come out if a person is still closeted. He said, “My advice is not directed to the person who is still hiding, but for the people around him/her. You should create an environment where that person would feel safe to come out and express their true self.” He added that giving advice to that person would only add to the pressure of the already difficult decision of coming out.
What he was saying was that, our friends and family coming out is not only a reflection of that person. It’s also a reflection of who we are. It shows how close-minded or accepting we are as a person. It is their responsibility to be honest to themselves, but it is our responsibility to create a safe space for them to be true to who they are.
What Can We Do?
It’s easy to say that the straight community should be understanding, and respect their rights, but it does not end there. If we expect our LGBQTI friends and family to come out, we need to speak up first. We need to show everyone that we understand and we need to stand them. Call out injustices we see, whether in real life and online. We need to voice out our support.
That being said, we need to call out things like the image below:
This was taken at V-Place, a bar in Davao City, where we have an anti-discrimination ordinance. Yes V-Place, what you’re doing is ILLEGAL. You’re asking for a letter from the Mayor’s office.
We need to join the cause for what is really just Human Rights. We need to fight for an anti-discrimination law, and yes, we march with them with pride.
There are reasons to keep fighting but there are also reasons to celebrate. Scroll down below to view more images from the 2016 Davao Pride March. Images courtesy of Brian Dan Congson and Eesh Generalao
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