Our theme for Pride this year is #ResistTogether. We pay homage to Pride’s roots—the revolution. In 1994, our country’s first Pride March was born. Held in QC Memorial Circle, we celebrated Stonewall’s 25th anniversary and spoke up against Value Added Tax (VAT).
We became the first country in Asia and the Pacific to host a Pride-related march. Before we’re allowed to death drop, and lip sync for our lives, and paint our faces with the colors of the rainbow—queer activists before us held their fist up high first.
This why recalling our herstory is important. Let’s listen to these queer activists who paved the way for gay liberation, AIDS/HIV awareness, and trans inclusivity. These available accounts will make everyone proudly proclaim: “gay power, gay power!”
Attendees from our first Pride March
“Tinaguriang, mga bagong bayani ang mga bakla sa ating lipunan. Mabuhay ang gay liberation,” a protester said during the first pride march in the Philippines. Succinct, yet powerful.
Outrage magazine says the march is “not well-documented.” Unfortunately, we only have few accounts on Filipino LGBTQ+ history. This includes our first Pride March. We lost so many powerful words from Filipino queer activists. Still, this line and the whole video gives us a glimpse of our herstory.
Marsha P. Johnson’s “You Gotta Have Soul”
She’s one of the most significant figures of the Stonewall Riots. Marsha, along with Sylvia Rivera, founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR). These trans activists led the fight of LGBTQ+ rights before and after Stonewall. Although she’s no longer with us, her legacy and message remain in her short poem.
Sylvia Rivera’s “Y’all Better Quiet Down” speech
“I have been thrown in jail. I have lost my job. I have lost my apartment for gay liberation, and you all treat me this way? What the f**k’s wrong with you all? Think about that!” Sylvia reminded everyone. Along with trans-activist Marsha P. Johnson, she fought for LGBTQ+ rights, racial, economic, and criminal justice issues. One of her biggest speeches was during the Christopher Street Liberation Day Rally in ‘73.
Trans communities around the world still experience discrimination, even within the LGBTQ+ community. And in worst case scenarios, they are slain. Sylvia Rivera’s speech remains powerful and timely.
Vito Russo’s “Why We Fight”
Vito Russo is an important figure of the queer liberation. As HuffPost wrote, he saw “the dark days of pre-Stonewall invisibility, the Stonewall rebellion and its aftermath, the emergence of LGBT critical studies and independent filmmaking, the creation of GLAAD, and the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and the formation of ACT UP.”
“After we kick the shit out of this disease, we’re all going to be alive to kick the shit out of this system, so that this never happens again.” His speech reminds us of the importance of HIV/AIDS awareness. We are reminded of how many lives we lost due to queer marginalization. And why we should never let it happen again.
Art by Rob Cham