THIS Saturday, Baguio will inaugurate the rainbow crossing in front of Burnham Park and Rizal Park.
The crossing lane was painted with rainbow colors by several gay personalities last Friday. Other activities are also slated for June 19, the birthday of national hero Jose Rizal.
Why the rainbow crossing was made in front of the only bas relief portrait of Rizal on public display and on his birthday is interesting.
A few writers have speculated on whether Rizal was gay. Isagani Cruz, Ambeth Ocampo, and John Neil Garcia all wrote about the possibility of whether our national hero was gay. All came out inconclusive, of course, because Rizal did not come out and there were no scandals unearthed about this. But Garcia’s long essay, the most erudite of the three, said that we insisting (or not) on it speaks about us as a nation.
Please read Garcia’s long essay here (https://patientnumber23.proboards.com/thread/165) and join in the debate.
We quote here the ending:
“Sometime in the Centennial year (1998), in his column for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Ambeth Ocampo stated that imputing to Rizal gayness is not the worst thing that’s been done to this national hero. To Ocampo, the worst that anybody has said about Rizal is that he and his greatness are fabrications by the Americans.
While I agree it is simply terrible to think this of Rizal, I also wish to register a specific demurral against Ocampo’s unwitting implication that thinking Rizal might have been gay is, all things considered, still and all bad enough.
If anything good came out of Isagani R. Cruz’s cheeky column on Rizal’s kabaklaan, it would be this: in pondering the mystery of whether our nation’s greatest hero was a bakla or not, we have discovered the truth, not so much about Rizal, as ourselves. And what truth is this? It’s simply that we cannot be said to be accepting of the bakla in our midst to the degree that we cannot begin to accept the possibility that someone we have been taught to admire from as early as we can remember, could have been such an awful, awful thing.”
Which goes to say, if Rizal is proven as gay, does that diminish him as a hero?
It’s not enough that we have tolerance for gays. We just accept them as such. Because even now, we even have gays who still think they can scandalize people by calling them gays. Que barbaridad, Gelina!
June is Pride Month and many of us don’t know the violent history behind it. It’s not all feather boas, gay parades and rainbow bridges, people.
Allow us to give the floor to Mz Kiki Krunch, who was invited to talk last June 14 at the flag-raising at Baguio City Hall. He later gave Mayor Magalong a rainbow flag to unfurl.
Here is part of Ms Kiki Krunch’s speech:
I moved here to Baguio City in 2007 when I started my undergraduate studies at the University of the Philippines Baguio. Moving to a new place, I was afraid that as a queer adolescent, I might get bullied for being what I am. I must say, Baguio City is a safe place for gay people. The City Mayor and the members of the City Council made sure that diversity, inclusivity, and acceptance thrive among all citizens of our beloved Baguio.
Up until now, gay people are being insulted, ridiculed, abandoned, and even disowned by their families and friends. We are continuously discriminated against and spat on just because we look different, we dress differently, and most of all because we love differently. Our ways may be different from other people, but we too are human beings. We are very much capable of loving and getting hurt just like you do.
This month is a very special month for the lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, queers, intersex, and asexual plus (LGBTQIA+) community. June is celebrated as Pride Month for the queer community. The word “pride” in pride month has nothing to do with the seven deadly sins mentioned by Dante Alighieri in his book Inferno. Pride is all about celebrating diversity and being proud of your gender identity, sexuality, and our way of loving the person who we want to love despite the gender norms dictated by society. As for the rainbow, it symbolizes diversity and the colorful spectrum of the queer community.
Pride is political. Pride is a protest. Protest has many forms. Protest is relaying a message to as many people as possible. This is the way I want to protest, a very peaceful and diplomatic one. Right now I am glad that I can practice my freedom of speech and expression in front of the leaders of Baguio City. The struggle of the gay community for equality and justice started in June of 1969 wherein there were a series of spontaneous riots and demonstrations at the Stone Wall Inn in Manhattan, New York City. Thus, the Stone Wall Riots. Thus the significance of the 52 white roses you are holding right now. It was a black, transwoman, Marsha P. Johnson, who propelled one of the significant events in the LGBTQIA+ movement.
Today, our cry for equality remains. Here in the Philippines, the cases of hate crimes against our transbrothers and sisters and discrimination against gay people in the workplace still exist. Isipin niyo na lang po ang inyong mga anak, kapatid, pinsan at mga kaibigang bakla, lesbyana, bisexual at transexual. Isipin niyo na lang kung gaano ka-challenging ang pinagdadaanan nila araw-araw. Inuulit ko po, pasalamat na lang ako at nandito ako sa Baguio City. Isang syudad na ligtas sa aming mga bakla. Pinapasalamatan ko ang mga miyembro ng Sangguniang Panlungsod na silang nagsulong at nagsabatas ng Anti-Discrimination Ordinance dito sa ating lungsod.
We are also very fortunate because Baguio City hails a lot of creative individuals that make up the creative community that we have.