First in Eastern Visayas, the Pride crosswalk was unveiled on June 1 by members of the LGBT community in San Julian, Eastern Samar. (Photo Courtesy San Julian Pride)

TACLOBAN CITY- For some residents of San Julian town in Eastern Samar, the vibrantly-colored 10 meters crosswalk is just an ordinary concrete passage way.
But not for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community of the town.
The rainbow-colored crosswalk symbolizes what the members of the LGBT community of the sleepy town have been fighting for: equality and recognition as legitimate members of the populace of San Julian of more than 15,000 people.
On Saturday (June 1), San Julian became the first area in Eastern Visayas to have a ‘pride crosswalk,’ as the LGBT community calls it, with its unveiling.
It’s unveiling coincided with the observance of LGBT Pride Month which first started on June 27,1970, incidentally, sparked by a riot involving the gay community in New York City calling for recognition and equality among its members.
In San Julian, behind the Pride crosswalk are the 159-members of the San Julian Pride founded on December 23,2017.
Its founder, Roel Andag, a graduate of public administration at UP-Diliman, said that it was just fitting that their Pride crosswalk version is located in a busy street of the town where the seat of the municipal government is located.
“It’s symbolizes our call for equality and recognition. It is located along a national highway in between Barangays 4 and 5 where our municipal building is located,” the 42-year old Andag said in a Facebook interview.
And based on their Facebook account, the group said that the Pride crosswalk signifies their ‘oneness with the rest of the world in celebrating the Pride month.’
“That we are part of a bigger diverse community. It is our assertion of our LGBT+identity in our rural setting-that we will not be rendered invisible, we will see and will be seen.”
The group also said that the Pride crosswalk is a proof that the rest of the people of San Julian embraces and accepts them as members of the community.
“Our Pride crosswalk is our visual reminder that we have come a long way and we still have a long way to go,” the group said.
And true to form, their group does not ‘discriminate’ their own saying that members of their group came from all walks of life-professionals and non-professionals, students, out-of-work, and even farmers.
Andag said to discriminate who can become members of the group would go contrary to what they are fighting for-equality and recognition.
The 10-meter crosswalk was a group effort as they hired a painter to do the job for more than three hours Saturday night.
Andag said that they have to use blow-dryers so the paints could dry right away.
For this project, the group spent P3,000 from their group’s funds.
Once the work was completed, they all felt not only relieved but ‘happy and proud’ that they have now their own version of Pride crosswalk which could be seen in other parts of the country like in the cities of Quezon and Cebu.
They have planned to have their Pride crosswalk for the last three months and were just gratified that the provincial office of the Department of Public Works and Highways allowed them to have a section of the public street be painted with various and bright colors.
And they are also thankful that officials of the municipal government of San Julian are very supportive of their campaign, naming Mayor Dennis Estaron and the members of the town council which passed an ordinance of which the group is passionate about-the creation of a local AIDS council. The ordinance was passed last year.
Incidentally, one of the advocacies of the San Julian Pride Advocacy Group is on HIV-AIDS awareness campaign which they do by conducting lectures and distribution of condoms donated by the Department of Health (DOH).
HIV-AIDS commonly affects among members of the LGBT community.
In Eastern Visayas, there are more than 700 HIV-AIDS cases with 48 deaths as of this year, records from the DOH said.