For the LGBT community, pride is the opposite of shame

We live in secrecy, pursuing double lives and passing on parenthood and marriage because we are convinced the family we want is not a possibility. Many of us spend our lives wishing we could love freely, at the same time convinced that this kind of life is sinful and morally corrupt.  

It is difficult for a person steeped in a heteronormative society to fully understand the LGBT struggle. All popular love stories are heterosexual. Sexually suggestive billboards may only star a man and a woman. These images are considered acceptable, and yet in the lesbian-themed teleserye, the two female protagonists will likely never even kiss due to MTRCB regulations.

Shame vs pride

What is our recourse when we are hated and discriminated against because of our fundamental selves? It's just too easy to echo those around us and feel sorry for who we are and let others decide the course of our lives. In order to not rock the boat, it is convenient to not stand up for ourselves. The easiest route would be to blend in and go along with traditional roles for fear of rejection and isolation.

Our biggest and most powerful weapon against shame is pride.  LGBT pride means claiming that our lives, relationships, and families are valid. It's showing the world that we are not afraid, that we will no longer hide and feel embarrassed for who we are and who we love. We will also no longer let another person's shame be our own. 

Pride is a powerful thing. For LGBT youth to witness a pride march can be life-changing. It definitely was for me in 1999, when I was a young lesbian worried about the repercussions of being out and proud. For a young person to see the different kinds of LGBT people as a united group (and haters as the outnumbered laughable minority) only reinforces one’s feelings that he or she has his own important place in this world. More importantly, we learn that we are not alone.

Hate crimes still exist. One in 10 Filipino LGBT youth have been abused in their own homes.  While transgender women are being refused entry to clubs, noontime shows tell gay fathers to go back in the closet, and  two men holding hands is still considered unsightly, we have a long way to go before shame is erased from our surroundings and in our own minds.

LGBT Pride Marches remain relevant annual celebrations of diversity and provide safe spaces for all sexual orientations, gender identities, and allies with open minds.

Happy Pride! - 

June is Pride Month! The Metro Manila Pride March is celebrating its 21st anniversary on June 27th in Luneta. Click here for details of Pride Month events.