By Büm D. Tenorio, Jr. (The Philippine Star) Updated June 10, 2010 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines - They all came garbed in different colors but the mood of the night was definitely pink. After all, for the first time, the US Embassy hosted the Gay Pride Month celebration in Manila to show respect for the lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT) community in the Philippines and to recognize their contributions to their culture and society.
No less than US Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr. topbilled the celebration. Thomas, who said he was disheartened to hear tales of woe and injustice committed against the LGBT community, was candid and warm as he delivered his speech that momentous night.
“Discrimination is a waste of talent,” he told more than a hundred of LGBT members gathered at the cozy Makati residence of Richard Nelson, the counselor for public affairs of the US Embassy.
Nelson, who was very comfortable hosting the party, said US President Barack Obama proclaimed June as LGBT Pride Month in the US. Obama, in a statement distributed at the event, said: “We must give committed gay couples the same rights and responsibilities afforded to any married couple, and repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. We must protect the rights of LGBT families by securing their adoption rights, ending employment discrimination, and ensuring Federal employees receive equal benefits.”
The occasion was maintained at a convivial level throughout the night. At the end of Thomas’ speech, the gracious ambassador even said: “I was too nervous to ask Boy Abunda for his autograph.” TV personality and STAR columnist Boy Abunda, one of the prominent figures who graced the affair, broke into laughter. So did the rest of the LGBT community of journalists, writers, TV reporters, publicists, fashion designers, chefs, lawyers, professors among other professionals.
Many straight men and women were also seen enjoying the party sans the dreaded homophobia.
Abunda was recently the subject of discriminatory remarks when his name was mentioned by President-elect Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III as possible Secretary of the Department of Tourism.
“I really find it very offensive when people say that I am just a TV host and not a lawyer or a doctor, therefore I am not capable of running a public office,” Abunda told The STAR.
Ang Ladlad party-list founder and STAR columnist Danton Remoto was also “happy and gay” to be at the momentous occasion. He said, “The first black American President has declared June as the LGBT Pride Month and the Manila embassy hosted this reception for us. We are no longer in the closet. We are now in the center of the room.”
Nelson’s Filipina wife, Pinky Sabinosa-Nelson, was just too delighted to welcome members of the LGBT community to their residence as she led guests to the buffet table that consisted of sumptuous Filipino fare including fresh lumpia in pink wrapper and pink rice. Pink is the international color of the LGBT community.
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