I was enjoying the Manila Pride vicariously through photos posted by friends online, and was happy to see the turnout, when I realized what was disturbing about the pictures: the absence of familiar faces, of gay friends who passed away, most of whom gone because of an epidemic gnawing away our rainbow. 
It’s always good to remember them surrounded by colors, instead of being reminded of how they were suddenly gone. There was that boy who borrowed a shirt, and never returned it; he was last seen wearing the shirt at a Pride March, right before he disappeared, his name resurfacing on RIP posts flooding your timeline. Then friends who led dual lives, had two Facebook accounts, one with pictures of Pride parades, the other with words as solid and heavy as their closets. Friends who bravely marched with boa feathers, with rainbow flags, only to disappear in silence, muffled by AIDS, their second closet. 

Thousands marched in Manila Pride this year. #LetLoveIn, that was the theme, and many responded by going to Luneta, proudly, holding their partner’s hand, kissing in public. Let love in, and may pride may also bestow upon us the courage to fight against HIV, and not let the epidemic push us back into new closets. 

(Photos courtesy of The Adamson Chronicle)


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