20th Anniversary of Stonewall Manila
26 June 2014
Yesterday, today and tomorrow, our struggle continues.
Marking two decades of militant LGBT fight for human rights and against discrimination. In June 26, 1994, twenty years ago today, we, lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders, took a firm grip at history, marched and took to the streets our utter discontent and condemnation of the age old discrimination and systemic state-sanctioned homophobia perpetually committed to us by society.
Led by the Progressive Organization of Gays in the Philippines (ProGay Philippines), the breakthrough event was called Stonewall Manila, as it was held to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the historic “Stonewall Uprising” in New York, USA in June 1969, which inspired homosexuals and similar minority groups in various parts of the world to surface in the open and fight discrimination and homophobia and struggle for equal rights. Most significantly, that pivotal LGBT mass action 20 ago remains symbolic in the conduct of annual pride marches in the ensuing years not just in the Philippines but in other Asian countries and key cities such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, at Thailand.
Not only did we shout against discrimination and social intolerance as we marched from EDSA to the Quezon Memorial Circle twenty long years ago. That day and through the years that followed, we also decried tyrannical social impositions such as VAT, low wages, scarcity of employment and income opportunities, demolition of homes, tuition hikes, the national ID system, corruption in government and numerous other oppressive state policies and issuances that doubly jeopardized our human existence and sexuality.
Today, however, twenty years after that first LGBT mass action ever in all of Asia, not a bit has improved in all aspects of the Philippine society. On the contrary, the political and economic crises continually deepen, making life harder for the Filipino people and doubly harsher to the Filipino LGBTs. The unjust social structures that prevailed two decades ago persist and, as if to add insult to injury, also evolved into newer forms of afflictions or gave birth to heavier burdens for the Filipino LGBTs to carry on their shoulders.
Most glaring of these are, number one, the recent DOH issuance on mandatory HIV-testing that shall result to nothing better than expose carriers to increased discrimination and consequently worsen the AIDS stigma. Number two, despite the two decades of the local LGBT pride struggle, the LGBT Anti-Discrimination Bill continue to gather dust in both chambers of Philippine Congress and has remained lightyears away from becoming a law. And, most starkly, number three, rampant corruption that has seeped through the minutest fabric of government, a lingering social issue that put pork and bones to bureaucrat capitalism more popularly known as the PDAF scam.
These persist, so still do the painful compulsions that took twenty long years to remain unabated: low wages, scarcity of employment and income opportunities, demolition of homes, tuition hikes, corruption in government and numerous other oppressive state policies and issuances that doubly jeopardized our human existence and sexuality. As such, we remain marginalized. We remain economically, politically, and socially oppressed. We remain discriminated based on our sexual orientation and gender identity. Society remains dominated by the privileged few. The culture of corruption and impunity remains. The current political system remains not genuinely in service of the interests of the broader majority, including the LGBT sector.
For as long as the unjust structures persist, so shall we and our struggles. As a sector essential in nation building and social transformation, the resolve to effect meaningful change in our society shall remain in our hands. And until essential social changes take shape, we shall not cease taking the same grievances we have started to shout out two decades ago to the streets and, this time, to the august chambers of Philippine legislature.
With the same battlecry twenty years ago, we the Filipino LGBT, honed by years of relentlessness and perseverance, sharpened by double standard and deceit, now stronger as a sector and more resilient to newer forms of oppression and homophobia, collectively with other oppressed and marginalized sectors, vow to carry the militant LGBT struggle for the respect for human dignity regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity, equal rights and against discrimination through to total victory.
So help us God.
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