HEART DINO | Here comes the pride

The UP Oblation with rainbow wings. Photo courtesy of Heart Dino.

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always pictured myself as one of the Disney princesses.

Happily married with my prince charming. But of course, minus the entire rescue 101 scenarios from the evil stepmother. (I don’t need to be rescued anyway!)

Yes, I want to be married someday, wear a wedding gown inspired by the one that actress Maricar Reyes wore during her wedding with singer Richard Poon and walk on a long aisle filled with cherry blossoms. At the end of it, would be my husband-to-be—who is at least six foot tall, chinito, dark, and either a doctor, lawyer or a basketball player—passionately waiting for me.

We’ll be sealing our deal with a kiss. And we’ll live happily ever after.

But then, as in any fairy tale, along comes the villain…

Ilusyunada!” my mom would often tell me every time I share this dream to her. And she never fails to do the evil laugh afterwards. Then I snap out of it and I’m back to the reality that, for now, it is not possible for me to be married. (Don’t get me wrong though. I love my mom and she has always supported me all the way).

But I still know someday that I could be a June Bride, as long as we continue to celebrate June Pride.

June is not just about weddings and brides, it’s about PRIDE. Indeed, June is the LGBT Pride Month. This is the time of the year where lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders come together, celebrate equal rights and dignity, and paint the town “rainbow.”

This month also serves as the annual commemoration of the Stonewall riots, which occurred at the end of June 1969 (I recommend that you watch Stonewall in 1995 by Nigel Finch, a funny but heart-felt movie). During the early morning of June 28, 1969, a group of LGBT customers of Stonewall Inn in New York City, with conviction, took a stand against police harassment, and a riot started.

LGBT men and women started shouting “gay power” as they fought back.

The Stonewall riots served as the catalyst for modern LGBT rights movement and the birth of LGBT pride marches all over the world. Today, LGBT communities all over the globe organize pride events such as the Tel Aviv Pride Parade, Sydney Mardi Gras, and Singapore’s Pink Dot Celebration. In the Philippines, LGBT groups celebrate a series of pride events during the month of June, although the well-known LGBT Pride March happens in December, in line with the International Human Rights Day Celebration.

Taking Pride
Pride has a special meaning to every one of us. For those of us who belong to the LGBT community, it is about acceptance, taking pride in one’s identity. It is a celebration of diversity, picturing a perfect blend of colors of different tints, shades and contrasts.

The celebration of June Pride is like a family reunion; a way of bringing the community together and a way of reminding us that we are not alone. Being with these people gives a feeling of empowerment—it’s ok to be yourself. We celebrate pride for freedom. It lets us be true to ourselves and not worry about being judged. Though we also expect certain groups to wave banners and placards with messages like, “Jesus can save you” or “You’re going to hell” during our LGBT marches. Still, LGBTs have the right to freely express themselves and express their love openly to their partners. It is a shout out to bigots that we exist, and we are here to stay.

June Pride is about optimism, that in the future, LGBT people will be accepted, respected, and loved for who they are and for who they choose to love.

Writer and LGBT youth leader Heart Dino answers queries from members of media during a Pride March in 2012. Photo by Bernard Testa,

Marching towards equality
June Pride is an opportunity to celebrate the milestones we have achieved. These include our recent successes in the passage of the Anti-Discrimination Ordinance in Cebu City, the birth of a new LGBT youth
icon, Charice, and having more exposure in mainstream media with GMA’s newest primetime soap  “My Husband’s Lover.”

But Pride is not just about commemoration, not just about celebration. Pride shouldn’t just last for a month or two, and it isn’t just about marching on the streets and waving a rainbow flag; it is about living our advocacy, fighting for our rights and looking forward to where we want to be.

In recent years, the LGBT movement in the Philippines has recorded significant successes. But there’s more to be done. Yes, we have an anti-discrimination ordinance in Cebu City, but we don’t have a national legislation, an anti-discrimination law that will promote equality and criminalize discrimination based on sexual orientations and gender identities.

Yes, the coming-out story of Charice has inspired many LGBTs, but there are more who are still afraid to come out of the closet because of their fear of rejection.

Yes, every night we can watch an LGBT-themed soap opera, but still LGBTs are relatively invisible and stereotyped in all media. In truth, LGBTs in general experience discrimination in various situations in their everyday lives. We are deprived of so many things, safe space, access to education and employment, marriage, etc.

This June, let’s celebrate pride; together, let’s stand proud, wave our banners and march for a society that embraces the culture of respect and acceptance, for a society where each individual is given equal opportunity,
and for a society where equality is given premium.

How long should Maria wait for her to be able to kiss Jasmine publicly without prejudice? How long should Mark wait for him to consider his school his second home? How long should I wait to be a June Bride? Well, I guess
for now, all I can do is sing, “Here comes the bride…I mean, the Pride”.

• Gabriel “Heart” F. Diño, is the chairperson of UP Diliman’s University Student Council, head of the Gender Committee of the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines from 2011 to 2012, and is studying MS Applied Mathematics Major in Finance in UP Diliman.