Words and photos by Ac Dimatatac, 350 Pilipinas volunteer

I have witnessed three Pride marches ever since I have identified myself as a lesbian. The first two was as a photojournalist covering the events and last year was memorable because I was there with my fiancée.

This year I never have thought that we will be marching with our friends from 350 Pilipinas. It was an exhilarating and emotional moment. We got stuck in dreadful traffic on our way to Marikina City for almost two hours, almost not making it to the march on time. Inside the vehicle, we have observed that the other attendees have already started to walk through the standstill albeit the fact that we were about two kilometers away from the venue. We were already planning to just tag along with the other participants and walk the rest of the way. Various attendees were already waving their flags cheering for the onlookers, the energy was palpable.

Eventually, it was a good decision that we decided to get off the vehicle when we did because we were able to catch up with the parade. Garbed in our colorful rain jackets and our pride flag we ran to meet the march. Along the way, you would hear acknowledgements from familiar faces and strangers alike, greeting you “Happy Pride mga lablab!” (Happy Pride, Loves) and we were all enthusiastic to respond to them back.

As a photographer my first instinct was to capture it all but at the same time I was trying to savor the moment. Especially when the group that I considered as my second family was there by my side in unity with the movement. It was such a diverse crowd; members of LGBTQIA+ and our allies, family and friends were present. It was an unusual scene in the past Pride marches, in my point of view there was noticeable increase in number of friends and family members who joined the event. In the Philippines the LGBTQIA+ community is tolerated but certain groups still continue to demonstrate oppression and hateful thought and action against us in a day to day basis may it be at school, in the workplace, or in public spaces.

That is why this year’s theme is “resist together”, encouraging discussions in gender equality and standing up for the human rights of the LGBTQIA+ Filipinos. We marched with approximately 70,000 people calling for solidarity on gender justice. We believe that our work in climate justice will not be fulfilled without achieving a just, inclusive and equitable world.

Each one of us matters and we are grateful to be part of an organization who is not afraid to show their solidarity to marginalized communities such as the LGBTQIA+ movement. The organization has acknowledged the importance of the identity of each of its volunteer members. Accepting oneself has been a dauntless act, learning that others have accepted you is an overwhelming feeling.

Thank you 350 Pilipinas family for joining us as we marched to remember the ones who sacrificed, who became victims of discrimination, prejudice, and oppression; the ones who have made and is continually making Pride happen. We marched with the hopes that members of the LGBTQIA+ community get to live normally like everyone else in safe spaces or environments. Finally, we marched to raise our voice to give a better future for the next generation, that they may thrive in a less hateful but a more accepting world.