A week or so ago I just happened to find myself at Manila’s annual Gay Pride march in the Malate section of the city. A relatively small event, especially considering the size of the city, it was nonetheless a boisterous and lively group that wound its way through the narrow and crowded streets in a part of town known for its colorful nightlife. I don’t know any of the details, but typical of what I’ve seen of many Pride organizations, this event apparently almost didn’t happen due to lack of organization and problems with sponsors. Regardless, the show did go on though this disorganization may have had something to do with the small size of the event.
There was no organized route in the sense that one would usually expect from a parade. There were no blocked off streets, no pedestrian fences to keep people off the parade route, no traffic cops, and very little media presence. And no spectators, aside from the people out on the street going about their business, the occasional odd tourist, or those who came out of their homes or shops to see what all the ruckus was about. Although there was some corporate sponsorship in evidence, overall the march had a very grass-roots feel to it, more like a protest rally than a parade, something reminiscent of what might have occurred back in the 1970s and ’80s when the gay-rights movement was just getting started.
After a few years of photographing events like this, I’ve come to find that quite often it’s the vignettes of the everyday people who come out to watch the festivities that are the more interesting story. In this case, it’s the people on the street, some just going about their business, pedestrians caught-up in the mess of the passing crowd, some amused, indifferent or unsure, and some still covered in the soapsuds of their interrupted bath.