May 19, 2024

A member of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ+) community thanked the city government of Baguio for making the city as a safe place for them and for supporting their 52-year struggle for equality and justice.

Francis Lopez, a Baguio resident since 2007, shared his appreciation during the city’s regular flag-raising ceremony on June 14 as part of the observance of June as Pride Month celebrated to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City and to achieve equal justice and opportunity for the LGBTQ+ Americans.

This event, Lopez said, paved the way for the LGBTQ+ members to enjoy freedom of expression and speech and to love without being discriminated.

He said he is thankful to the city officials and its people for making Baguio as a safe place to live for individuals like him.

Sa totoo lang, nakakatakot na lumipat sa isang lugar na hindi mo alam kung tatanggapin ka kung ano ka, sa pagiging bakla mo, kung tatanggapin ka dahil pagiging maganda mo. Sa Baguio, I felt very safe here,” said Lopez, who came to the city in 2007 as a student of University of the Philippines Baguio. 

He said it is nice to know that the city council passed a measure against discrimination and thanked them for it, as well as the city mayor’s office for giving queer people like him an opportunity to be heard and seen.

He also appreciated Baguio for being a creative city and the fact that there have not been cases of hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community in the city.

“Most of the time gay people are insulted, ridiculed, abandoned, and even disowned by their own families and friends. We are continuously discriminated and spat on just because we look different, dress different, and love different. Our ways might be different from the straight people, but we too are human beings. We are very much capable of loving and getting hurt,” Lopez said.

Lopez said June is a special month for the members of LGBTQ+ because it is the month of pride where they celebrate their diversity and colorfulness.

He said Pride Month has not something to do with the pride considered as “one of the deadly sins.” “The term pride is ito ‘yung kagustuhan naminin our struggle of being proud as a queer individual, of being proud of being out of the closet, of being proud of our identity and individuality, and of loving a person who we want to love.”

The rainbow emblem identified with the LGBTQ+ symbolizes the spectrum of gender identity of each LGBTQ+ member, according to him.

“Pride for us is a protest and being part of the protest does not necessarily mean being on the streets. This protest is to convey to you that we want our equality and justice to be heard and be recognized by the people,” Lopez said.

He added their struggle for equality has not ended yet and therefore they continue to come up with different ways to achieve the goals of their advocacy of fighting for their rights.

He thanked the city for believing issues can be done through diplomacy, in proper discussions, and allowing expression and appealed for support in urging Congress to pass the anti-discrimination bill. – Hanna C. Lacsamana