Manila’s Storied History with the LGBT Community

Manila ladyboys may be known around the world, but the Filipino capital’s history with the LGBTQ community is no less worthy of celebration. The community has a distinctive culture and is well-tolerated, making its way toward full acceptance.

Just over 10% of Filipinos have had sexual intercourse with a member of the same sex according to the Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Survey. Filipino culture has a more fluid, flexible gender concept than western culture.

Manila’s celebrated modern history with the community began in 2010 with LGBT party Ladlad’s “immoRALLY” protest in front of the Commission on Elections office in the capital. The party’s petition for accreditation had been rejected two weeks earlier. The Commission rejected the petition on the grounds that LGBT people were “immoral”. A number of national organizations joined the rally in support of Ladlad, including Babaylan and Task Force Pride.

Manila has hosted Pride marches for 25 years. One of the most notable was 2016’s “Let Love In”. The Orlando Nightclub Shooting had taken place shortly before the march, due to which there was doubt that Let Love In would happen. Yet, organizers pushed through, and the march started on June 25 in Luneta Park. That same year, the movie Die Beautiful, a comedy-drama about a transgender beauty queen, won two awards at the Tokyo International Film Festival.

The name of 2017’s Manila Pride march was “Here Together”. It started at Plaza de los Alcaldes, Marikina on June 24.

In 2018, the annual march was called “Rise Up Together.” It attracted 20,000 attendees, up from 7,700 the previous year.

“Resist Together”, the name of the pride march in 2019, focused on support and passing of the SOGIE Equality Bill in Congress. Attendance reached the record-breaking 70,000.

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno has promised to push for a 2020 event to celebrate the community. If it transpires, the Filipino capital will become one of the few units of local government to have its own pride march outside Manila Pride.