Contrary to popular belief, the rainbow doesn’t end in June. In fact, this is just another reminder to keep the protest of pride going for the LGBTQIA+ community well after the festivities come to a close.
For those who dare to ask, no, pride doesn’t end this month. Sure, the rainbows blatantly splashed on many a marketing campaign are slowly being taken down (presumably because these have already amassed their pot of gold), the colorful collections of the out and proud glittered sort are being moved to the back of the store, and the attention of the general public is shifting towards the next thing on the calendar. But while the rest of the world moves on, the LGBTQIA+ community is still left to fend off inequality and injustice in many different contexts and circumstances and fight for the right to live their truth just as others would.
This isn’t to dampen the spirit of light, love, and liberty that pride month has encouraged from the community and its true allies, but while the euphoria takes its time to settle, we must be more cognizant and vigilant on the reason why there is even something being championed and celebrated. It isn’t just a parade or party that culminates weeks of pocket performances and pledges of support for the community. Rooted in protest at the hallowed grounds of the Stonewall Inn in New York, pride is a continuous conversation that demands equality and equity for the LGBTQIA+ community from society in general.
There is a responsibility that comes with pride, one that carries over even after the last confetti is cleaned up at the end of the month. For the LGBTQIA+ community, especially those at forefront challenging the status quo and demanding a definite end to systematic discrimination, it is what happens after that matters. Did we learn something? Did we change the prejudice of our ways? Did the community gain a step forward into the respect it deserves as human beings?
Beyond Pride Month
Despite the boundaries pushed and conversations sparked, especially during pride month, the discriminations continue to this day. To this day, where supposedly compassion is of prime consideraton, for anyone who identifies as anything within the diverse and dynamic spectrum of being queer, there still exists that compulsion for self-preservation and survival. Even after the rah-rah-rahs and declarations of happy pride, the rest of the community still have been relegated to the edges of society, the margins of the page if you will. Nestled deep at the core of pride is a proper reclamation of what it really means and needs moving forward to not only have a space in the story, but to simply live without the fear, pain, and exclusions we have so long endured.
So, what comes next after pride month? A whole lot. This is where the change really starts to shift, if anything. Just because the hype simmers down, that doesn’t mean the support is supposed to wane. In fact, this is where the efforts should really be consolidated and considered, making sure that everything bookended within the month of June isn’t mere lip service or performative allyship. For pride, as well of the freedom for all that the LGBTQIA+ has long fought for, the limits do not exist. All day, everyday, and all year round, actions and solutions should be committed to. Every effort, big and small, are necessary to keep the ripples of change becoming full blow waves to topple over the walls of hate and burdens of bias that have long weighed down the world.
Whether it be furthering the conversation to at the very least expand understanding, passing the mic to the voices that need to be heard, or joining the call to support anti-discrimination through policy and legislation, then so be it. We are all in this together. Besides, you never know who is reading or even at least seeing these stories of queer struggles, identity, and victories–an ally who genuinely wants to understand more, a young person struggling to come to terms with one’s truth, or even prejudiced people who need to learn. The more we see, hear, and support the queer community, true compassionate progress and equality will be much closer to being a reality, and not just something the world romances when it is convenient to them. It isn’t the time to be quiet or slow down, if at all, it is a constant reminder to keep pushing the plight forward. Pride month or not, it is time we actually do something. Now, the great work begins.
Now that the celebrations of pride month are coming to a close, here are more equitable, inclusive, and thoughtful ways you can and should do to keep championing the LGBTQIA+ community beyond the month of June.
Listen To The Community
There is no shortage of stories of pride. From entertainment, art, and reclamation of spaces, you don’t necessarily have to look hard, you just have to open your eyes, ears, as well as of your heart and mind to fully comprehend the truths of the LGBTQIA+ community. Whether it be music from queer artists such as Kio Priest (Man In My Dreams, Sugarbaby, Sinner), Dom Guyot (Unbeloved), and Paul Pablo (Kalawakan), among many others, or from varied podcasts from the likes of AC Soriano (Gabi Ng Bading), Greg, Makoy, and Dee (GAM Chat), and Rye, Aa, Leif, Karl, Kevin, and VP (The Shippers).
In fact, Spotify, in its push to create greater equity, empathy, and representation for the LGBTQIA+ community, has its Pride Hub, an all year long dedicated effort to feature and promote queer artists, podcasts, and themed playlists from around the world. Locally, simply typing up pride will draw up a lot of results including Bahaghari, the dedicated pride playlist of the Philippines with tunes such as Bangin, R.Y.F., Fix Me, and This Love Isn’t Crazy. Want to hear more of queer stories through song and sound? Stream it, because every play counts.
Support Queer Art
Creativity runs at the very core of the LGBTQIA+ community. When our narratives weren’t given the space it is beginning to occupy these days, we had to hide our art in ways that the conservatives and traditionalists will not realize was right under their watch. For the longest time, subversion was central to queer art, which compelled queer artists to find creative ways to pursue their passions. While the consumption of art in the community has been more open as of late, that doesn’t mean we should be complacent in the championing LGBTQIA+ works.
From cinema, visual media, sculpture, photography, and painting among the many mediums, there is a lot to support. Recently, Poblacion-based art space and bar, Futurist, hosted No Longer Will Our Mouths Beg For Water, “an exploration the crux of queerness and queering a space through unadulterated expression,” writes one of its indefatigable owners, Samantha Nicole. Also an homage to its beloved its founding space, Today x Future, a once-upon-a-time longstanding safe space and home for queers and friends, the exhibit features the visceral works of Ed Aniel, Nash Cruz, Jack Marion, Cru Camara, Andrei Suleik, Carl Jan Cruz, Leah Castaneda, Worshipthegays, Tokwa Penaflorida. (The show can also be viewed online at their website.) So, yes, support queer art by watching queer films, consuming queer content, promoting queer-themed exhibits, streaming queer music, and reading queer stories. There’s no more hiding in subversion for our art, it’s time to be out, loud, and proud about what we create with our passions.
Be Educated: Join In Panel Discussions And Talks
One of the many good things that peppers pride month is the overwhelming amount of panel discussions, SOGIE talks, and queer discussions. This year, as it has shifted in the last year, these were done virtually, which not only provided a platform for awareness but engaging education on the ever-dynamic landscape of the LGBTQIA+ community. “This is what I realized. We have come to a point of educating the younger generation especially, which is lovely,” says Janlee Dungca, a visible figure when it comes to the advocacies of SOGIE and HIV awareness, trans rights, and anti-discrimination policies in the workplace. “It is a continuous learning experience, even for me, which makes it amazing and humbling!”
Whether you identify as queer or not, there is no excuse: You have to educate yourself, especially since the resources are accessible now more than ever. Keep an eye out for opportunities to join in panel discussions and talks, because you will be surprised at the eye-opening experience it eventually becomes. From cinema, mental health, and legislation, there is a lot more to understand of the LGBTQIA+ experience. So, every similar effort like this is a step toward a better grasp at true equality in may spaces for everyone to occupy.
Sustain Queer-Owned SMEs And Pursuits Of Passion
If big-time corporations and brands have enjoyed your attention and hard-earned bucks, especially during pride month, then so do the queer-focused and queer-owned small and medium enterprises. While others see pride month as a time-bound marketing opportunity, for the actual community it is built on and serves, by people who actually identify as LGBTQIA+, this is their lifeline. It is very easy to fall prey to the glitter and glamour of pride, especially if some really walk the talk and offer a portion or all of the proceeds of their sales to causes of the community. But if you can cut through the system and directly support and sustain queer SMEs, then so much the better. Here, you aren’t just a footnote or a by-the-way in the business, but instead, you are the grand plan and purpose. And that attention, care, and focus just hits different.
There is a lot of queer-owned and queer-focused SMEs that will cater to many of your needs. Hip padding and wigs for drag queens? Yas. Vintage finds for your fancy? Yes. Cosmetics made locally? You betcha. For your sustenance and nourishment, you can indulge in the healthy eats of Vegan Atashi, sink your teeth into the sweet treats of Bekiry Manila, feel the true meaning of a safe space in homey spots such as Food For The Gays in Cubao, Quezon City. If you are more into the divine and self-reflection, then the Rainbow Seekers Tarot is definitely in your lane. A 78-card tarot deck that empowers everyone who comes into possession of this to find their own rainbow. Created by Henson Wongaiham, a certified tarot master and advertising professional from Manila, it can be used for meditation, divination, and even for fun. A pursuit that was unexpected but fully committed to in greater understanding of what we both can and cannot understand just yet, the Rainbow Seekers Tarot is a “testament of the LGBTQIA+ people—our triumphs, adversities, and our quest to love and be loved.” The deck comes with a bonus When Oracle: Rainbow Edition, which was done in collaboration with Ledz Lim. In the spirit of pride and its launch, it also has special sets with crystals, a spell jar, candle, and bracelet, all rainbow-themed. Most importantly, all proceeds will help fund necessary organizations in their efforts for the LGBTQIA+ community.
Meanwhile, serving a fresh and inclusive voice in the fashion side of things, clothing brand, Milkwear, knows that you matter and you are valid. So, for its Milkwear x LoveYourselfPride collection, 100% of the profits will be donated to the HIV awareness projects and services of LoveYourselfPH.
Support And Donate To LGBTQIA+ Causes
There would be no pride month to begin with if it were not of the pioneers and trailblazers upon whose shoulders we stand upon in celebration and education. Paving the way for the life we live, part of pride includes looking back at queer history, involving oneself in the information and inspiration these brave souls have accorded us. As a means to give back, as well as uplift the community, it is imperative that one supports and donates to LGBTQIA+ causes. In the scope of awareness, attention, and advocacy, there are lots to choose from and contribute to locally. From the all-important initiatives related to HIV such as testing, counseling, treatment, and life coaching through Love Yourself Philippines, Sustained Health Initiatives Philippines (SHIP), and AIDS Society of the Philippines.
Another worthy cause to support and make donations to is through The Golden Gays, a non-profit organizations that provides support, care, and as it name suggests, a home for the elderly LGBTQIA+ people. No strangers to challenges and struggles, the lolas of the Golden Gays have been further backed into a wall by the pandemic, where the mandates of quarantine and protocol has limited their ways to make a living, which is mostly through performing in drag shows. The efforts of the LGBTQIA+ community, especially during pride month, ensures that we not only forget about the Golden Gays, but also safeguards their day-to-day through in-kind and monetary donations. Hopefully, however, more efforts will help build them a forever home where they can live the rest of their lives comfortably without having to resort to their old scheme of rotating sleep schedules.
Tip Your Queens
With bars nowhere near the possibility of being re-opened amid the pandemic, performances and entertainment are still limited to the virtual sort. Where it was already challenging to make a living as a drag queen in the context of the nightlife back then, with tips being an insulation to what they earn, the struggle ultimately became even more real in the past year or so. Agile in adapting their art online, it still isn’t easy for drag queens. Diligent in their desire to entertain on a regular basis, depending of course on the third world broadband speed, drag queens persist, relying much more on good faith and kindness of their audience to earn even a little for the night. There are many shows to watch out for, especially on Facebook, just prep your late night and before you know it, a notification will pop up.
A reminder then and even more so now, please tip your queens. Times are hard, yes, but remember, even a little goes a long way, after all they’ve already made your night, the least you can do is show a little and share the live.
Join The Call And Support Anti-Discrimination In Office Policies And Nationwide Law
“Gender plays a huge role in the workplace. It is one thing to be gender sensitive but another thing to be gender responsive. Throughout human history, there has been a struggle not only for women, but also for the members of the LGBTQIA+ community when it comes to equal opportunities in the workplace,” says advocate Janlee Dungca in a SOGIE 101, Gender Sensitivity, and How To Become An Ally talk hosted by Telus International Philippines and Spectrum Philippines, a resource group for LGBTQIA+ in the workplace. “I firmly believe that taking the first step to understand what SOGIE is will help more people understand the wide array of preferences, behaviors, and gender identities we have in the workplace.”
While it is very easy to claim diversity, inclusion, and allyship, and it is a necessary step in achieving equity from the workplace and beyond, codifying these in anti-discrimination clauses in office policies is a tangible effort in making sure that empowerment and empathy are not just empty words but committed solutions in the exchange of ideas, talent retention, and creativity and innovation at work. Over the years, TIP has introduced inclusive benefits such as expanding HMO coverage to dependents, domestic partners, and same sex partners of team members, the introduction of gender neutral, self-identified male and self-identified female restroom across their sites. These are things you should look out for and maybe even ask for when seeking employment, and if you are a decision maker, encourage into the progression of policies that will make everyone feel safe, seen, and significant.
On a grander scale, this means demanding for legislation that will not only respect the SOGIE (sexual orientation and gender identity expression) of everyone, especially the queer community, but also act as protection from discrimination. Despite the many significant strides in conversation and support, the proposed SOGIE Equality Bill or the Anti-Discrimination Bill that been proposed and re-filed multiple times in Congress and Senate is a necessary means to assure that not only will the LGBTQIA+ people have equal rights, but be able to exercise it as it is due them to put an end to inequality and injustice that continues to plague the community to this day.
Beyond pride month, the call to pass the anti-discrimination bill into law should be louder than ever. This means speaking up and speaking out on it, educating people who might not be too aware of the details of the SOGIE Equality Bill, and being more mindful of the people we let into public office, especially in the upcoming elections in 2022. It’s about damn time.