About 24 hours ago, we have seen Marikina City bursting with colors as they recently concluded the 2018 Metro Manila Pride March. Rainbow flags, balloons and umbrellas hover freely into the air and over the metropolis as more than 20,000 people were estimated to have attended the event.

With the theme, “Rise Up Together”, the LGBTQIA+ Community calls for solidarity, intersectionality, and policy change at the 24th Metro Manila Pride March and Festival at the Marikina Sports Center. This is the second year in a row that Metro Manila Pride is being hosted by Marikina City. Throwing on a full support, Marikina City Mayor Mercelino Teodoro delivered his key message affirming that Marikina is a safe place for the LGBTQIA+ Community, to live freely and without fear.

This year’s message has elevated from “#HereTogether – joining hands as a community with our allies, creating bigger stronger movement of love and support” to “#RiseUpTogether” – learning and moving together to affect change and policy, especially the call for the passage of the SOGIE Equality Bill.

It may be an uphill battle for LGBTQIA+ community as discussions about rights become political or even an everyday battle for individuals who feared that others will discriminate them based on their gender identity, but the pride event in itself is both an advocacy and celebration. Besides the political discussion, one of the striking features during the parade is the way other religious groups have shown support to the community.

When a Pride attendee sees and hears the hecklers rallying anti-LGBT sentiments throughout the parade, even calling the members of the community as “sinners”, there are campaigns and groups coming together to convey apology and acceptance. One looks behind and they see colorful people saying in return that “You are Loved” or retorting “Mahal namin kayo”.

At the end of the march, tarpaulins and banners welcome the paraders asaying “Sorry, we are here to apologize for the ways that we as Christians have harmed the LGBT community.” These are some of the affirmative articulation of support and reinforcement to someone who has been discriminated, looked down and shamed. This is not just an event to have fun with friends, but a march for love, a march for equality and a march for rights.

These are the values that we want to espouse to other fellow Filipinos to have a true safe space for everyone. As the community fight for their rights to love, we also claim to love those who continue to hate us because there is no point in loathing them in return.

Thus, we wave our rainbow flags, proudly and passionately, and say we accept your apology and we thank you for accepting us.