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Pride and perseverance in Iloilo

Commemorating the LGBTQ+ struggles in Panay Island and across the country as well as celebrating the milestones the community has achieved, Iloilo Pride was also a means to demand for safe spaces, inclusive policies and stronger representation

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LGBTQ+ bikers joined the Iloilo Pride Ride. / PhotoGRAPH COURTESY OF Iloilo Pride Team

A participant waved her rainbow flag during the Iloilo Pride Ride. / Photograph courtesy of Janica Jherys F. Santos

The LGBTQ+ community of Iloilo City in the province of Iloilo, Western Visayas, again held its Pride event in the latter part of October, commemorating the LGBTQ+ struggles in Panay Island and across the country as well as celebrating the milestones the community has achieved. It was also a means to demand for safe spaces, inclusive policies and stronger representation. These were encapsulated in this year’s theme, “Pride Revolution: Padayon ang Pagbato Para sa Gugma” (Continue to Resist for Love).

‘When will be the right time for us’ by Gelo Zarsuelo from Aklan. / PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF Art X PridE exhibit

While still largely virtual, Iloilo Pride also had a couple of physical and in situ events. Last year, Iloilo Pride was held entirely online because of the coronavirus pandemic and the restriction against gathering. The Iloilo LGBTQ+ community has been staging its own Pride event annually since November 2015.

member of the Khalid Divas provided a drag performance during Pride Night. / Photograph courtesy of Iloilo Pride Team

“For the past year, we have been facing a pandemic that did not allow us to gather and celebrate our Pride. The continuing inefficient response of the current administration may have stopped us from once again flooding the streets of Iloilo with our flurry of rainbows, but it will not stop us from continuing to fight against discrimination and patriarchy,” said main organizer, Iloilo Pride Team (IPT). “A Pride Revolution is one that discovers the root of our oppression and working to uproot that problem.

‘Pride Face Mask’ by Rijie L. Doncillo. / PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF Art X PridE exhibit

The misogyny and patriarchal political leadership of this country has led not only to violation of our rights, as they practiced inhumane punishments on LGBT offenders, but also to an increasing number of deaths in the community. Unless we struggle with the people in fighting against tyranny, we will never be truly free.”

LGBTQ+ activists, student leaders and allies joined the Pride Picket at UP Visayas. / Photograph courtesy of Iloilo Pride Team

The Pride celebration started with the Iloilo Pride Ride on 23 October, in which LGBTQ+ members biked around the city waving their rainbow flags. Online, “Art X Pride” exhibit showed visual and literary works by queer artists on the IPT Facebook page.

‘Morning Blues,’ digitial art by Miwa and Calix. / PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF Art X PridE exhibit

An in situ event was held on 30 October. The Pride Picket gathered LGBTQ+ activists, student leaders, gender equality advocates and allies at the Graduate and Continuing Education Building of the University of the Philippines (UP) in the Visayas to make statements and make known their calls and protests. Participants included IPT members, led by their chairperson Irish Inoceto; UPV Gender and Development Program Office, led by professor Ysabelle Cainglet; Samahan ng Mag-aaral para sa Kabataang Kababaihan UPV (SAMAKAKA-UPV), led by its chairperson Audrey Dayata; UP Lipad, the LGBTQ+ organization of UP Visayas, led by its chairperson Arvin Lauresta; and Gabriela Panay-Guimaras, led by its chairperson Lucia Francisco.

PhotoGRAPH COURTESY OF Iloilo Pride Team
Irish Inoceto, chair of Iloilo Pride Team.

Iloilo Pride culminated with “Pride Night,” on 31 October, which streamed live on IPT’s Facebook page. The online program included messages from Naomi Fontanos, transgender woman activist, and co-founder and executive director of GANDA (Gender and Development Advocates) Filipinas; Francisco; UP Lipad; and SAMAKAKA-UPV. A panel discussion tackled LGBTQ+ issues with Inoceto, writer Early Sol Gadong and trans woman writer Wyn Custodio Gallo.

“Pride Night” was enlivened by several performances including slam poetry performance of “Alaala ni Sisay,” written by Azunta Gaviola with the UP Intermedius actors Robyn Rubin and Faye Ysabella Ong; and a dance by Jude Jadera and Kyle Morales of West Visayas State University to the song “Araw-Gabi” by Regine Velasquez. Drag performances were offered by members of Khalid Divas — Lanie Nganga Galicia, Alexa and Victoria.

Trans advocate Naomi Fontanos delivered her message of solidarity.

The program ended with a moment of silence to remember and call for justice for murdered transgender woman Jennifer Laude and victims of gender-based violence as well as victims of extrajudicial killings, and condemnation of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

“We will continue to fight to change spaces and practices that discriminate against the LGBTIQ+ community. We continue to fight against patriarchy and state violence against the people.

We continue to fight alongside the marginalized communities, the farmers, workers, students and women. We continue to call on everyone to let the rainbow break the darkness we are all under in this country,” IPT highlighted.

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