Freedom of Expression
As the country celebrates its independence in June, we also honor and celebrate Pride Month. June is the month dedicated for members of the LGBTQIA+ community. It commemorates the Stonewall riots in June of 1969. In the Philippines, there are thousands of members of the community, whether out in the open or not. They are our friends, family, neighbors, schoolmates, colleagues, and fellow citizens.
We have got a long way to go before our country progresses past its prejudiced views about the LGBTQIA+ community. Opposition from religions, their devoted followers, and hatred from personal bigotry have resulted in lives lost for people who only wanted to live their truth. What do we do to protect those in our community? It isn’t enough to defend them. We need to proactively campaign against homophobia and bigotry.
We need to do our part to make every space a safe space.
We start with our homes. Then our schools. Then our offices. Then our cities. Then our entire country. And eventually, hopefully, the entire world. In the words of Bernadette Neri, chairperson of the LGBTQIA+ organization Bahaghari, “[There is] development not just in our numbers, but in the content of our struggle, interwoven with all of the abused. That’s what Filipinos can be proud of.”