Iloilo celebrates LGBTQ+ Pride this October

This October, the Western Visayan city of Iloilo in Panay Island is celebrating LGBTQ+ Pride with an array of different events, called Pride Pyesta, led by the organization Iloilo Pride Team with support from the Iloilo City government, Iloilo LGBTQIA+ Network, Youth Voices Count Inc. and Megaworld Lifestyle Malls.

With the theme “Iloilo Embraces Hue,” this year’s celebration kicked off with an opening ceremony at the Sunburst Park on 1 October. The program included messages; unveiling of Layag Up, an LGBTQ+ landmark; SOGIESC Cup oath of sportsmanship; presentation of the contestants of the Rajah at Diwata sang Iloilo; and the official sashing of the contestants of the Search for SOGIESC Ambassador.

A biker group joined the Ride for hue. | photograph courtesy of Marshal Bikers

This was followed by the Ride for Hue: Pride Pyesta Pamukaw and Pride Ride, involving bikers going around the city center and making it more colorful.

Also, on the same day, Iloilo Pride Team’s project Art x Pride opened its exhibit, “Kinaiya: A Red Rag to a Bull” at Festive Mall Iloilo, which runs until 22 October.

According to the organization, “Art X Pride, which started back in 2021, is an initiative aiming to highlight the talents of LGBTQIA+ artists in the fields of literary writing and visual arts focusing on finding out how art became a movement to achieve change, promote equality, and, most importantly, acquire freedom as it focuses on the theme, “Celebrating myself through art, by art, and with art.” It has always been one of the advocacies of the Iloilo Pride Team to support the community through their many talents as well as provide living and local artists a spotlight on all possible platforms.”

“This year, Art X Pride dives deeper into the nuances and subversiveness of queer art, and how it should not be subdued to conform to the societally accepted themes of today. Similar to a red rag irritating the bull, art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable,” they added.

Other cultural events in the Pride Pyesta calendar include “#HowInequalityLooksLike,” which has been touring the country and which will be mounted from 8 to 22 October at Festive Mall. The exhibit features portraits of LGBTQ+ persons and their experiences of marginalization, discrimination and inequality.

The Dakila Iloilo Collective will hold a poster making activity on 17 October, also at Festive Walk Mall.

From 19 to 21 October, the Cinemakulay film festival will be held at Cinematheque Center Iloilo, screening LGBTQ+ films.

Iloilo Pride Pyesta is also an opportunity to learn more and to facilitate discussions with its lineup of talks. A popular one is the Kalipayan Talks, which deals with sex, an often taboo subject. This year, it will be held on 16 October at Festive Mall Iloilo and will be tackling polyamory, asexuality, BDSM (bondage, discipline or domination, sadism and masochism), consent and experiences of persons living with HIV or PLHIV.

On the other hand, the Gender and Safe Spaces Forum will tackle intersexuality, sexual and reproductive health and rights and HIV/AIDS on 7 October at the San Agustin University Auditorium.

The Family Planning Organization of the Philippines will present TransHealth Talk on 13 October at SM City Iloilo mall.

Drag queen Avria La Veen will conduct a drag workshop. | photograph courtesy of Avria La Veen

In recent years, with its rise in popularity, drag has been a vibrant part of the celebration. On 14 October, The Queen Inside of Hue: Drag Workshop will be held at the B Lifestyle Complex. Drag queen Avria La Veen will give pointers on makeup, hair styling, runway walking, performance and stage presence.

Other events include the SOGIESC Volleyball Tournament from 9 to 20 October at the Zamora-Melliza Uswag Gym; the official sashing of Rajah at Diwata sang Iloilo at SM City Iloilo on 13 October; and Libreng Gupit: A Ginhawa 2.0 Mental Health Resilience and Well-being Program on 27 October at Sunburst Park.

The celebration will culminate on 22 October with a Pride march with street dancing from Iloilo Esplanade to Festive Mall Iloilo, where a program will held together with the Search for SOGIESC Ambassador Pageant, Laban Mamsh: A Lipsync Battle and Drop the Ball: A Drag Competition.