By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau
June 30, 2014
NEW YORK CITY – New York City’s Fifth Avenue became one big rainbow Sunday as more than a million people marched and watched one of the biggest Gay Pride celebrations in America.
New York’s parade commemorates the June 28, 1969 Stonewall Riots – a series of spontaneous, violent LGBT demonstrations against a police crackdown on the gay patrons at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwhich Village 45 years ago.
Dozens of Filipino Americans joined the annual march, and leading this year’s Filipino contingent is Boots Babushka – considered a mother to all LGBTQ Filipinos.
“I’m as old as Adam and Eve,” Babushka said. “There was a time when sa Pasay hinuhuli kami, tumatakbo kami after the sayawan because the cops were after us. It used to be Halloween lang kami puwede lumabas.”
Gay rights have come a long way since then. A year ago, the US Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA – granting federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples.
Today, same-sex marriage is now legal in 19 States plus Washington, DC.
Filipino American Cole Carothers of Brooklyn, NY said, ”The theme of today’s Pride is, ‘As One We Are One,’ I think, together, collectively we’ve seen victories because we’ve come together as a community, today’s message is – we should never stop coming together and working together.”
Marchers say while there’s much to celebrate, there’s still so much to do — especially for the gay and undocumented.
Gabriela USA’s Maui Villapando said, “Isa sa mga pinaglalaban namin at kina-campaign namin dito sa parada na ito ang Temporary Protected Status para sa mga kababayan natin na undocumented, lalo na ang mga undocumented LGBTQ.”
“If we have put this much time and energy into this gay marriage, let’s talk about undocumented queer issues,” Bayan USA’s Jenabi Pareja said. “Hopefully we’ll have this much energy as the same thing as we put it to immigration as we did for the marriage.”
This year, transgendered women’s rights have also been a big focus in the LGBTQ community. Beauty queen Chelle Lhuillier says life would have been much easier if the name and gender on her identification cards matches her true self.
Lhuillier said, “It’s really hard to travel when you have a different name on your ID or passport, and you look like a very beautiful girl. So that’s really difficult.”
Many marchers here believe that while America has made leaps and bounds in marriage equality and LGBTQ rights, they are hoping President Obama will do the same for immigrant rights and equality – an issue that is shared and will benefit the gay and undocumented immigrants in America.
Lhuillier said, “We will continue until we get the recognition, the respect, dignity that we’ve been looking for and the equal rights that we were fighting for.”
You may contact Don Tagala at [email protected]