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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Friday, June 15, 2018

entry arrow6:40 PM | The Pride of 6200

In perhaps its most ambitious undertaking since it started celebrating Pride Month in 2016, Dumaguete City is poised to make the 2018 edition its most comprehensive and inclusive, with ten events scheduled throughout June to cater to various interest and concerns of local LGBTQ.

I’ve found myself to be the lead organizer for this event—for reasons I’m still trying to sort out—although I vaguely remember deciding to do this when, a few months ago, Ren Dy, a good friend, made a totally uncharacteristic remark, and resolve. He doesn’t usually follow other people’s lead regarding activism and assorted social concerns, but one time he remarked on the death of two local gay men—one of them a good friends of ours—who had recently under “mysterious” circumstances: “It’s time we do something,” he said.

I found that simple resolve Ren declared quite amazing, and I realized that most of us do feel finally moved when things approaches the personal. Because we knew those two young men died from complications of AIDS—a specter we are still beginning to grapple with in Dumaguete—although we had to decode from the official medical reasons given: “pneumonia,” usually, and sometimes “tuberculosis.” And we knew they didn’t have to die, because HIV is a perfectly manageable condition with recent advances in medical technology—except that these were closeted individuals whose families could barely grasp the heavy intricacies of their situations, because of the stigma.

I’ve always believed that in Dumaguete the biggest problems regarding LGBTQ life and welfare are misinformation and invisibility. These create stigma, and that is the biggest obstacle towards making any headway regarding problems besetting the community. The entrenched conservatism, of course, makes sure no one talks properly and in public about anything, hence the misinformation. And the stigma regarding the lives of gay men renders them invisible; the closet is still where many local gay men live—maintaining a strict cis persona for their families, and a flamboyantly gay one for their friends. Most learn to live in that grey area. And while I firmly do not believe in “outing” anyone from their closet, I can still say it’s a fraught place to live in, even if you have learned to negotiate its shadows.

But I think it’s also time to start making deeper explorations into the various issues of LGBTQ life, because we are not just defined by our sexualities—we are also defined by how we do culture, how we engage in spirituality, and how we link our advocacies to other important concerns like the environment. Hence, there is Pride Month in Dumguete in June.

Pride Month is an internationally recognized celebration advocating for LGBTQE rights and welfare, and it was first celebrated in Dumaguete in 2016, although the first Pride Parade was organized in 2011. The Dumaguete initiative of Pride Month is called #6200Pride, which links Dumaguete’s zipcode to the popular expression of LGBTQ activism—but #6200Pride is not an organization; it is a loose network of organizations and individuals in Dumaguete who are dedicated to the LGBTQ advocacy. Part of this network is local organizations such as the Illuminates of the Spectra [ISPEC] of Silliman University, led by Sol De Castro and a team of other students, and PETALS Dumaguete, a newly-formed LGBTQ group in Dumaguete led by Prof. Carlou Bernaldez of the Negros Oriental State University.

A drag show featuring local drag artists Sole, Maningning, and Kendra Heart starts Pride Month on June 16 at 7:30 PM at Hayahay Treehouse Bar.

Other events include “When I Came Out: A Panel on Coming Out Stories” on June 22, Friday at 4 PM at the American Studies Resource Center of the Robert and Metta Silliman University Library; a talk on HIV/AIDS by Dr. Ma. Lourdes E. Ursos on June 23, Saturday at 9 AM at the Physicians Hall of the Silliman University Medical School, to be followed by a free and confidential testing and counseling at the Ursos Clinic at the Silliman University Medical Center at 2 PM; and the EcoPride Fun Run and Hike on June 24, Sunday starting at 5:30 PM with assembly at the Lee Super Plaza Hypermart, ending at the Valencia Plaza.

June 25 will see a slate of activities, including the Pride Panel on Gay Identity, Gay Culture, Gay Living, and LGBTQ and the Law at 10 AM at the American Studies Resource Center of the Robert and Metta Silliman University Library; a talk titled “Why Queer Faith Matters” at 2 PM at the Magdamo Hall in Silliman campus; and a Pride Poetry and Music event at 3:45 PM at the Silliman Library foyer. A Pride Zine Fest threads throughout these activities starting at 10 AM. A screening of Joselito Altarejos’ award-winning film Tale of the Lost Boys is slated at 7 PM at CityMall Cinema [still pending though].

Dumaguete’s Pride Month culminates with a Grand Pride Parade on June 30, Saturday, starting at 3 PM at Portal West in Hibbard Avenue. We are encouraging not just the local LGBTQ community to participate, but also our cis or straight allies. We hope to compose it with many organizations and individuals in a celebration walk around the city.

6200Pride also includes other local organizations and individuals in Dumaguete City such as Youth Advocates Through Theatre Arts [YATTA], Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines Alumni Community-ISLAS, the Dumaguete Amateur Roadrunners and Striders [DARS], Dumaguete City Tourism Office, Dumaguete MetroPost, 6200 Film Society, and several organizations and academic departments in Silliman University including the Culture and Arts Council, American Studies Resource Center of the Robert and Metta Silliman University Library, Religion and Peace Studies Department, Psychology Society, Silliman University Medical Center, Silliman University Medical Students Association, English Society, DumAlt.Press, and others. Sponsoring groups include the BASILBAN, Hayahay, and Dy-Dael Dental Clinic and Associates.

That’s a lot of people invested in this advocacy—as it should. In June, we will paint Dumaguete City with all the colors of the rainbow.

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