Bared Braveheart: Taking Pride in One’s True Self
by Jezarree B. Corpuz
More than a week has passed since the Pride March held last 24th of June, yet a smilecontinues to unwittinglyexpose itself at the reminiscent thought of it. There is nothing but pleasant memories from that sentimental Saturday—a picturesque memento immortalized in the hearts and minds of the LGBT+ community. Not even the scorching heat of the summer sun nor the torrential downpour suffered the evening after can stop a day dedicated to spreading love and declaring pride of one’s true self. Such a self once forced to hide; one condemned due to nonconformity towards social constructs.
It was two o’clock in the afternoon and sweat was trickling down the side of my face. The summer heat was relentless, but it was no match formy eagerness and exhilaration to be there. Upon arrival, a motley assortment of groups is there to greet. On the one hand, there stands the majestic LGBT+ community dominating the area. On the other, a group of homophobes presents itself at the sidelines, ready to spew hate.We chose to turn a blind eye despite their rebuke, for no amount of hate can trample on the love we so openly shared that day.
It was my first time coming to Marikina and I daresay, the streets were well maintained and spotless. The venue itself was big enough for a flock of thousands. To our left stood rows of tents propped up for Pride merchandise.Meanwhile, a stage has been set up in front and the plaza was open for people to gather upon. The place was already cramped when we got there. Around me I could see happy faces, smiles flashed from ear to ear. Laughs and stories of reunions and new beginnings filled the atmosphere. Kisses were shared without fear of judgment and reproach. Indeed, it was a safe space for anyone and everyone.
Before the march, there were several performances held. We chanced upon Wanggo Gallaga and Trisha O’Bannon’s spoken word poetry. It was of teenage experiences and coming out of the closet. Afterwards, the music of violinist Matthew Chang and ethnic jazz singer Ja Quintana serenaded us.Who would have known that an ethnic instrument coupled with classical violin tones would make for a harmonious piece? Complement that with the powerful voice of Ja Quintana and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a superb song.
After all the performances, the highlight of the program was provided by our guest of honor, Senator Risa Hontiveros. We had the pleasure of hearing Senator Risa deliver her keynote speech that afternoon. She spoke with much grace and eloquence—seraphic and wise are the words that come out of her mouth. She shared how it all started with the filing of the Anti-Discrimination Bill in Congress seventeen years ago, providing a brief glance of history before moving towards a reflection of the present situation. Such situation, it must be said, isone devoid ofmuchprogress for the LGBT+ community.
It was a profound speech; you could hear everyone cheering her on and affirming her statement. The whole message was undoubtedly powerful, but the words “We march for those who can’t”truly sent a shiver down my spine. That statement is the very foundation of why we were there at the Pride March. To fight for a cause close to our hearts andto speak upand stand for those who cannot. We march for our friends who remain hidden in the closet, unable to bare their true selves. Having her rally alongside us, to affirm our battle and to strengthen the cause gives me hope. Regardless of the ostracism we’ve suffered from the day we’ve chosen to come out,we remain empowered because of people like her. Allies coming to our defenses and letting us know we’re not alone.Our love for one another is indeed the currency of our struggle.
The march officially started after Senator Risa’s keynote speech. It was a long walk for pride; a parade for love and a celebration for the LGBT+ community. Songs were blaring from the speakers to enliven the crowd. Everyone sang along; some at the top of their lungs. There were homophobes lurking around the corners, crying hateful statements only to be overpowered by the love and support from the audience. Some of them were even apologizing “for being a voice of hate”. For them to come to such a realization was remarkable. It was an indescribable experience.
Words can never do justice to the feeling brought about by the Pride March—one must experience it in all its glory; take it all in and savor it. It’s like an explosion of colors striking the senses. Colorful shirts flaunted about, flags raised high and mighty to proclaim one’s pride, and rainbow fruit popsicles consumed to beat the heat.The combined voice of a 7000-strong community drowned even the most hurtful statements the adversaries can muster. The battle cry of the LGBT community is one yearning for recognition, for acceptance, and it made itself felt more than ever.It’s a feast for the eyes and a sweet tenderness tugging at the heartstrings.At best, it was a glorious sight to behold.
I marched across the streets of Marikina barely leaving a footprint; but the memory of my contribution to further the cause lives on.
My attiresoaked from sweat,
My feet numb and sore,
My hands tired and aching,
My heartimmensely happy it could almost burst!
New friendships have been wonderfully forged that afternoon; relationships have further been strengthened; and the community has been brought closer than ever. The struggle continues, but weremain “Here Together”—fighting for our rightsuntil the very last breath.
To this day the songs remain playing at the back of my mind; the memory still lingers like it was just yesterday.Love, laughter, and acceptance surrounded us at that moment—it was magic in the making, withthe feeling almost palpable. With that I say, the 2017 Pride March is verily an unforgettable experience.
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