Tuesday, September 16, 2008

...and Pride season begins in Manila...

There is a reason why I have not blogged in the past two weeks. I have not only been chasing various deadlines at work but have also been up to my neck with work for Task Force Pride (TFP) Philippines. TFP, as some of you may know, is the network of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organizations and individuals that has been organizing the annual Pride March in Manila since 1999.

This year TFP marks a milestone by holding its 10th Pride parade. Although the Pride March in Manila used to be held around June in time for the Stonewall commemorations, it was moved to December at some point because of the monsoon season. June is a very wet month in the Philippines and we’ve had Pride Marches that got drenched in rain albeit the celebrations went on. To solve this weather problem, TFP members decided to hold the Pride parade during the first weekend of December instead as part of the World Human Rights Week festivities.

This year’s Pride March is especially significant for three other reasons: 1) It coincides with the celebration of the 60th year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR60), 2) It will serve as the venue for the possible launch of the Yogyakarta Principles in Manila, which is an international declaration that applies international human rights law to matters pertaining to sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, and 3) It will be the first time TFP will be headed by two women of transsexual experience: myself and Sass Sasot of the Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP).

When we had our first meeting in early August I was so moved by the turn out. We had around 9 organizations represented and 26 individuals present. We had members of Ang Ladlad, the national organization of LGBT Filipinos of which I am also part, Boys’ Legion, a gay, bisexual and trans (GBT) youth organization, Circle of Friends (CoF), a socio-civic group of discreet gay and bisexual men, Gay and Lesbian Activist Network for Gender Equality (GALANG), an LGBT group working at the grass roots level, Female Artists and Musicians’ Evolution (FAME), an all women’s art and music group, Lunduyan ng Sining, an artist group for women loving women, Rainbow Rights (R-Rights) Project, Inc., a policy think tank composed of LGBT lawyers, Team Pilipinas, a group of Filipino LGBTs who’ve joined the World Out Games and other international LGBT sports fests, and of course UP Babaylan, the first ever LGBT student group in the University of the Philippines System.

Everyone is excited to work for TFP because it is aiming high this year. TFP members are raring to celebrate the 10th Pride March in a big way, with more color, festivity, glitz and glamour. There are so many plans and I will tell you more about those later on. This year also marks the longest Pride Season, the period of time, set by TFP wherein its member organizations hold various activities leading up to the Pride parade.
Our kick off activity was a forum on trans women’s issues sponsored by R-Rights last August 30 at the University of the Philippines in Diliman. It was followed by a reproductive health community outreach activity by UP Babaylan on September 1. Then R-Rights in cooperation with LNS and Radar Pridewear, the first alternative lifestyle fashion line for women, held the 4th Dyke Dialogues featuring nationally respected women’s leader, Aida Santos last September 13. That was followed on Sunday, September 14, by the 2nd church anniversary of the Metropolitan Community Church in Quezon City (QC) and the ordination of their Pastor, Pastor Ceejay Agbayani. As you know MCC is a global Christian Church that is inclusive towards LGBT people.

This week the LGBT community is getting ready to attend two other events that are part of Pride Season: the launch of INVOICE, a new LGBT magazine and GALANG. The INVOICE launch will happen this Friday, September 19 at Bed Bar in Malate while GALANG will be launched at Café Rallos, in Tomas Morato in QC on Saturday, September 20. After these two big events, TFP will celebrate the anniversary of LNS when they hold a lesbian love letter reading on the 27th of September. We are all excited about that. Anything about love and I am going. J There are more events lined up for this season's celebration of LGBT Pride so stay tuned for that.

The TFP team is also very proud of the theme we came up with this year. The 2008 LGBT Pride March will celebrate A decade of dignity: Our rights, our lives, our loves, our selves. I’ll tell you more on that later. For now, I’m just happy to announce that right now in Manila it is Pride season once again. And I hope you can help us make it a truly momentous and successful occasion.

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