Test Run – Philippines March, 2009

“Should we go?  Shouldn’t we go??”  These questions were floating in the air as we carefully considered whether or not to attend the 2009 Manila Pride march.

We’ve just begun the mammoth task of trying to organize, find funding, and setup the “Walk with Pride” project, not an easy task.  While Chad has taken part in lengthy photography assignments before, they’ve usually involved staying in one place, so the logistics of planning for 14 months of travel is … hm, what’s the right word, “interesting”.

The number of pride parades held each year is sizeable, with well over 400 large marches held, and parades ranging in size from less than 60 marchers, to the largest in São Paulo, Brazil, with over 3 million people attending the 2009 parade.  Many of the biggest pride celebrations are held in June, as it is principally recognized as Gay Pride month.  Additionally, a lot of the top parades are run during the same weekend, the last in June (June 26-27), which commemorates the Stonewall Riots of 1969.  However, with so many dates a rough itinerary is just beginning to fall in to place.  We’ve decided to officially start the project in May 2010, traveling to Minsk for the second annual Slavic gay pride parade, then moving into Europe during June, with a quick trip to the states for the San Francisco LGBT Pride on the weekend of June 26-27, followed by July and August back in Europe, September still unclear, but October has both the Hong Kong and Osaka parades.  Our rough plan goes on like this until June 2011, until we finally end the project at either the NYC or Washington D.C. pride gatherings.

But, what about this year’s Dec. 5, 2009 Manila Pride march?  Why not unofficially start now, visiting some of the parades that are closest to our base of Taiwan?  The Philippines gay community is supposed to be particularly vibrant, and despite being a predominantly Catholic country, it was Manila where the first ever gay rights parade in Asia was held in 1994.  Similar to others, the original parade date honored the Stonewall Riots, but in 2003 the march was moved from June to December in support of Human Rights month.  Since 1999 the parade has been organized by Task Force Pride a loose network of groups working to promote positive visibility for the gay community.

The decision: We should go

… at least that was our decision.  My work superior felt differently on the matter, so I will most likely be unable to leave the country until May when we officially start.  However, expect to see Chad (the red head with the camera) around Manila as of the 3rd.  The march’s theme is “We Dare, We Care,” and will commence at 5pm in the lively Malate district.  Chad’s pictures of the march will be posted in the week following the parade, so check them out on the project’s main pride website: www.walkwithpridenow.com , and on our Flickr account.

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