By Roy Mabasa
The government of Austria expressed its solidarity with the Philippines against gender-based discrimination and violence as it leads the launching of a five-day campaign championing the LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual) community through creative activism.
The LGBTQIA circle worldwide celebrates Pride Month this June and commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, a series of violent demonstrations by the gay community against police raid at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City that occurred in the morning of June 28, 1969.
In a statement on Monday, Austrian Ambassador to the Philippines Bita Rasoulian said Vienna takes a strong stance against “isolation, hatred, and discrimination while honoring self-affirmation, dignity, and equality.”
“We are more than our borders. We are more than the languages we speak and the color of our skin. We are more than our gender and who we want to love. This was the mission statement and message that EuroPride 2019 hosted in Vienna this Pride Month successfully delivered. Today, we look back on a great deal of progress, but all along in the sober realization that there is still a way to go. And our ambitions are not restricted to just one country: because LGBTQIA+ rights are human rights – and as Austria, we will always stand up for them all over the world,” the Austrian envoy said in a statement.
With the theme “LGBTQIA+ Greatness in Leadership and the Arts,” the Austrian Embassy and its partners Frontrow Philippines and Love Is All We Need will bring together Austrian and Filipino equality advocates from the sectors of photography, visual arts, fashion and makeup, performance art, film, and music to celebrate diversity, unity and equality.
Kicking off for its first-ever MNLxVIE Equality Fest on June 25 is a launch party at Tarzeer Pictures, Makati to be led by the top Austrian diplomat in the Philippines and equal rights advocates RS Francisco and Queenmelo Esguerra. It will be accompanied by the photo exhibit “RECORD, RECORD” on Austria’s LGBTQIA+ history and excerpts from the book “Anong Pangalan Mo Sa Gabi?” by UP Babaylan, Babaylanes, Inc. and UP Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, as well as works by renowned and upcoming local LGBTQIA+ photographers. Joining the festival are Austrian intersex rights activist Noah Rieser, filmmaker Gregor Schmidinger and drag queen Tamara Mascara.
On June 26, the Intramuros Administration will unveil a pride-themed public mural. Situated across Museo de Intramuros, the artwork is a collaborative project of the Austrian Embassy, Austrian artist Katharina Kapsamer and Salzburg Global Forum fellow Ralph Eya.
On the same day, drag queen Tamara Mascara, MAC’s Viva Glam’s head of online pride month campaign in the Philippines, will perform at Tomatito in BGC with Filipino queens MC Black, Precious Paula Nicole and Queen Viña! Tamara will likewise be attending as DJane at XX:XX’s Elephant Night closing party on June 28.
On June 27, intersex activist Noah Rieser will lead the panel “LGBTQIA+ Greatness in Leadership: An Equality Talk” on Austria’s recent legislation allowing for a third gender option in legal documents at the De la Salle-College of Saint Benilde. Rieser will be joined by Myla Escultura of Intersex Philippines, 2018 bar topnotcher Sean Borja, and Filipino artist fellows of the Salzburg Global Forum Reymart Cerin, Mark Salvatus, Andrei Venal, and filmmaker Cha Roque.
Also on June 27, Austrian filmmaker Gregor Schmidinger will premier his film “NEVRLAND” at the Cinematheque Centre, in cooperation with the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP).
On June 28, Schmidinger and renowned Filipino filmmakers Joel Lamangan, Moira Lang and Samantha Lee will discuss LGBTQIA+ films in a Q&A at the UP Film Institute.
The MNLxVIE festival will culminate on June 29 with the Metro Manila Pride March where Rasoulian and all festival participants and partners will march together with The Red Whistle campaign #FuelTheLove and #ExtinguishTheStigma.