Frustrated by the ways of the world, a conversation of emotions and pride turns into a musical collaboration featuring an inclusive playlist specially curated by DJ Kim FG.
Depending on what time you woke up today, nothing was a clearer reminder of what the true purpose of pride is than the sobering and chilling news report detailing the aggressive and asinine apprehension of around 20 demonstrators who were holding a peaceful protest rally that observed the mandate of social distancing. Filled with exponential increments of emotions that oscillated from rage, restraint, and resolute, we were kept abreast by the unraveling of events that saw everything from the authorities blatantly disregarding safety protocols, hijacking vehicles, and herding protesters to the Manila Police District Headquarters. When asked what their violation was, as is standard in the Philippine constitution and Miranda Rights, the arresting officers had nothing concrete to answer but a flimsy and non-committal, “Meron, meron.”
Over 50 years ago, pride was not the larger-than-life, glitter-fed, and festival-like celebration that has become known and commercialized today. Led by Marsha Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, key figures and pioneers of the gay liberation movement in New York city, pride was at its genesis a protest—a defiance of the asphyxiating oppression that dehumanized the LGBTQIA+ communities. Bricks were hurled and riots ensued, sparking an outrage that has catalyzed the long and arduous march for gender equality and acceptance. Grounded in resistance and resilience, pride is not a party, but a firm fist and middle-finger to the status quo that continues to invalidate the existence of a community that just wants to live and be treated equal, as is right by them. While significant strides have been made in over 5 decades since the uprising at Stonewall, a lot has yet to be done, especially in a more conservative and fundamentally challenged country like the Philippines.
At around 10:30 AM today, we were reminded that the struggle and plight still remains, and that now more than ever, we have to take a visible stand against an obvious curtailing of the basic right to peaceful assembly and expression. It doesn’t strike itself as a divine coincidence, especially this all unfolded on the eve of the weekend when all the pride-related festivities will start making noise online—and we mean this in both the necessary and posturing way. But perhaps in prophetic providence, a conversation was already the night before between myself and DJ Kim FG, a proponent of Manila’s hip and happening in the a combination of gritty underground counterculture and robust dance-your-heart-out pop, on how to essay this bubbling social and political frustration into the unspoken and transcendental effect of music.
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“I hope it evokes and resonates a sense of freedom, pride, euphoria, empowerment, and confidence,” says DJ Kim FG of the sonorous symphony of struggle and sass he has curated exclusively for Megastyle, which in itself a reminder that music is just a political as protest. “Walk a mile in those heels. Dance like your body is aflame with power of having to own your self without shame. Stand up. Stand out. I hope this gives you a license, a f**-off to an oppressive society that refuses to see your inner and outer beauty.” Subverting the sensibilities of our time, music has the ability to underscore the currents of consciousness that both inspires movement in the literal and figurative sense. “Music has always been intrinsically linked to our cultural and and social identity. Pride, as it is embedded to the LGBTQIA+ community—as not just a feeling but an identity. But what makes that feeling or identity tangible I feel is by way of music. From the glimmer and glitter of disco, the pounding thump of house music, the feral diva vocals in every power pop song—all these are elemental and syncopates to paint a picture and bring a feeling to life,” he explains in poetic license. “A lot of us have a medium or an outlet to express our deepest selves. My artistry, my core, my identity has always been purely expressed in music. As much as I love to experiment in other ways, I feel my message is always conveyed and carried out through music. I find there’s beauty in interweaving a story by plucking out lyrics and even a certain chord progression or arrangement to get that message across, whether it is fighting oppression, inequality and yes prejudice—there will always be that one song or even an army of songs that can speak for you if you don’t have any words to express it.”
Whether it’s standing your ground through a George Michael realization or an unapologetic relishing of the self in a Diana Ross, Divine, or Lady Gaga hit, there will be a song to say so much, perhaps even in more in its orchestration, melody, and most importantly, lyrics. In The Fundamentals Of Pride: From Resistance, Resilience, And Hedonism For The LGBTQIA+ Spirit by Kim FG, there is a drawing of pure pleasure from the tracks that have taken our movement to bold and brave heights. “There’s so many of these elements that our people has overlooked that I feel needs to be placed on the table to give homage and respect for all that it has brought to the table. My primary purpose is to give us a level of understanding that our cultural was built on a rich tapestry of history soundtracked to the outlandish and brave while still giving you the dance floor gratification you need.”
Press play and sing and dance out all that pent up feelings of your identity on many fronts with songs such as the iconic I’m Coming Out by Diana Ross, Express Yourself by Madonna and Believe by Cher, or the soaring Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen and Queen Of The Night by Whitney Houston. There are gems tucked in between transitions too, such as Swerlk by MNDR feat. Scissor Sisters, Narcissus by Roisin Murphy, and Little Bird by Annie Lennox, as it exists harmoniously with dazzling Broadway hits like Origin of Love from Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Seasons of Love from Rent. And when it settles in tone, you get reminded that in this musical journey, as is parallel to the enduring movement we are all working our way to gaining equilibrium, we will survive. Right, Gloria Gaynor?
“So, all these songs in the playlist have nuggets of everything—inspired by pop culture that led to the product of the fight for pride.” says Kim FG. With elements of The Birdcage, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, To Wong Foo…, and even George Michael’s Outside, which was a track released after his arrest for public indecency, the defiance is definitive. “It speaks resistance. This is how I imagine it all to be. A hedonistic playlist that encapsulates what we fought and stand for.”
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More than the pride it has become to many in a contemporary context, we are being reminded perhaps by how history repeats itself that the fight is far from over. While most would rather be complicit and complacent to the times, we shouldn’t be letting our guard down and glazing over what has caused and still causes lives in the name of the morsels of progress and liberties we all enjoy today. This is the fundamental of pride, and today was when we realized of what it stands to be: an act of resistance and resilience for a community that has long occupied the pages of the margins. But now, it is time to write our stories. And every good exposition needs music to score it. Make no mistake about it; this is what we will be marching to, proverbially, of course.
Yes, by all means, dance to it as you please. There is no violation here, because it is your movement, too.