The recent Pride March arrests have reminded everyone of the event’s true essence: a protest for rights that a community has long been deprived of.
This week, Pride 20 will file countercharges against the Manila Police District. But with the uncertainty surrounding their case, several communities have kickstarted their own initiatives to help those arrested. One of which is Tahanang Malaya, a collective that aims to find or create queer spaces.
“Our projects lined up aim to cultivate queer spaces, ‘mga tahanan,’ that will serve as safe physical, emotional and mental spaces,” says Nissie Arcega of Tahanang Malaya. “One of our long-term goals is to create a safe house for queers and provide them with solid foundations to live a life full of hope and opportunity.”
Alongside several artists in the film industry—as well as groups like SIKAD, Concerned Artists of the Philippines and Strike II—Tahanang Malaya is launching “Sine Tahanan,” a collection of local queer films available for streaming. While it is technically free, the collective encourages viewers to donate as proceeds will go to LGBTQ+ group Bahaghari, the main organization processing the release of Pride 20.
Included in the library of films are Petersen Vargas’ “Lisyun Qng Georgafia,” Stef Aranas’ “Mimi’s Makeover,” Mac Arboleda’s “Kapok Tamod Engkanto,” James Fajardo’s “Ang Lalaking May Regla sa Gitna ng Dagat,” Gilb Baldoza‘s “Kontrolado ni Girly Ang Buhay Niya,” Chan Candelaria’s “Sa Saiyang Isla” and Cha Roque’s “Slay.” They have 27 films in their current slate but according to Nissie, expect more to be added to the lineup.
Check out our conversation with Nissie below where we talked about the initiative’s origins, including the role of heterosexual creatives in #FreePride20.
How will the library of queer films work?
We’re pooling a grand master list of queer films from queer filmmakers that you can stream online for free. It’s nothing fancy, the platform’s just Vimeo, YouTube, or Google Drive. It functions with a pay-what-you-want kind of model, where you can donate however much you can to Pride 20’s bail fund through Bahaghari.
Who started this initiative?
Tahanang Malaya started this initiative, and I’m heading the project. We’re a collective of queers and allies who envision an empowered and collaborative queer community for all, whoever they are and wherever they come from. Right now, we’re operating online because of the lockdown.
Why is #FreePride20 an important concern even for heterosexual creatives?
There’s always been this misconception that Pride has always been solely for the LGBTQIA+ community. I mean, rights don’t work like pie or cake—if we ask for more, you won’t lose any of yours, it’s not a finite thing. This might sound like a given to those who already have an inkling of the discussions that surround queer issues (or honestly, anyone who’s on Twitter), but it’s still something that needs to be reiterated, unfortunately. We have senators who liken being queer to animals, and he’s rumored to be running for the presidency.
We have to stop thinking in the space of “us vs. them,” “queers vs. heterosexuals.” It should be a concern for everyone because the systemic and systematic oppression against the queer community that has been the norm is an infringement on human rights as a whole. It’s not really a call for anything larger than the basic request to be treated humanely and with dignity. It’s ironic that our country is one of the most gay-friendly nations in the world yet discrimination, atrocities and hate crimes are still prevalent.
We have to stop thinking in the space of “us vs. them,” “queers vs. heterosexuals.” It should be a concern for everyone.
Pride has always been a protest. It’s a protest that extends beyond fighting for surface-level concerns of the queer community. The struggle has always ran deep, even before the first brick was thrown at Stonewall, even before the Filipino queer community started marching in 1996. Its spirit has been rooted in a strong call for liberation from oppression that come at us from all sides: the patriarchy, bureaucrat capitalism, feudalism and other-ism that disadvantages members of the queer community. True queer liberation can only be achieved once every member of the LGBTQIA+ is free from all these. Last Friday’s Pride March included cries for free mass testing, junking the Anti-Terror Bill, against the jeepney phaseout and other social issues that are plaguing our nation, proving that Pride isn’t an isolated social movement.
In the violent dispersal of the rally in Manila, the government has shown us how much they value not just the queer community but our very constitutional rights. (Which is, barely exists.) The illegal detainment of Pride 20 should be alarming to anyone who claims to be an ally, and anyone who cares about freedom. Fighting the struggles of the queer community alongside us means taking a stand against all forms of exploitation. There is only pride in justice, there is only pride in peace and there is only pride in freedom.
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These short films by Asian filmmakers are free for streaming
Interview by Rogin Losa
Still from “Kontrolado Ni Girly Ang Buhay N’ya”