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German Embassy collaborates with ELEPHANT to Celebrate Pride Month

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Germany is known for being a place of openness and expression. A place where people can be whoever they want–especially in Berlin. For this year’s Pride Month, the German Embassy in Manila partnered with ELEPHANT, a dynamic LGBTQIA+ community based in Manila, to celebrate Pride Month through a series of empowering and inclusive events.

Led by Ambassador Anke Reiffenstuel, the EU Gender Champion for the first half of 2023, the German Embassy has been at the forefront of promoting diversity, inclusivity, and equality. Teaming up with ELEPHANT, a community created by queer individuals for queer individuals, the embassy aims to highlight the significance of safe spaces and advocate for equitable opportunities for LGBTQIA+ artists.

Ambassador Anke Reiffenstuel, the EU Gender Champion for the first half of 2023

“Germany, particularly Berlin, has long been a place that embraces everyone regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Ambassador Reiffenstuel. “It is a place where people are free to express themselves authentically and openly, without fear of judgment or discrimination.”

Berlin’s vibrant LGBTQIA+ scene and events like the Christopher Street Day parade are a testament to Germany’s commitment to inclusivity and acceptance. To further the right of LGBTQIA+ people globally, Germany engages as Co-chair of the Equal Rights Coalition.

“We are proud to support initiatives that celebrate diversity and create safe spaces for all individuals to be who they want to be. The collaboration with ELEPHANT and our Pride Month activities in Manila reflect our shared belief in the importance of fostering dialogue, promoting inclusivity, and celebrating the vibrant LGBTQIA+ culture both in Germany and the Philippines,” the Ambassador added.

ELEPHANT, founded in 2017 by artist Paul Jatayna, drag queen Superstarlet XXX, and the owners of the now-defunct night club XXXX, has emerged as a pioneer and a strong force in the local queer alternative nightlife scene. The community’s focus on electronic dance music, drag performances, and supporting local independent music producers reflects their commitment to fostering safe spaces and empowering the Filipino LGBTQIA+ community. ELEPHANT makes for the perfect partner as it meshes well with Berlin’s vibrant party and music scene.

The collaborative efforts between the Embassy and ELEPHANT have resulted in a series of inspiring events throughout Pride Month. The highlight of the celebration was the Elephant Pride Party held on June 24, featuring Berlin-based DJ Ketia. This inclusive event served as a platform for queer individuals and allies to come together, celebrate their identities, and embrace the progress made in the pursuit of LGBTQIA+ rights.

After the Pride March in Quezon City, hundreds of LGBTQIA+ community members and allies partied at the Nanka Dirty Kitchen. The event, headlined by Ketia, was a resounding success. “The energy was just so sweet and tender,” they said.

On June 26th, the German Embassy and ELEPHANT also co-organized a thought-provoking panel discussion titled “The BUZZ (Baklang Usapan sa Zafe Zpaces): Enhancing Queer Safe Spaces in the Philippines,” which was filmed and aired by Manila Community Radio. The engaging session brought together a diverse range of panelists, including Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte, organizer, activist, and DJ Ketia, trans filmmaker and performance artist Celeste Lapida, and Mindanao-based filmmaker and human rights activist Rhadem Musawah. Moderated by drag artist SuperStarlet XXX, the panel explored strategies, challenges, and opportunities for strengthening queer safe spaces across the country.

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte who recently launched the Right to Care card underscored the importance of same-sex partners having the right to care and make medical decisions when one of them is at the hospital. The QC government will now allow them to legally decide for each other when it comes to medical matters. Couples just need to register at City Hall, answer a questionnaire, and sign off that they are in a loving relationship. Mayor Joy also shared how in QC, government officials, all the way to the barangay level, are given gender sensitivity trainings to ensure that members of the LGBTQIA+ community don’t feel discriminated when in need of government’s assistance and services.

Lapida, Musawah, and SuperStarlet XXX also shared about their experiences in the Philippines and suggestions on how straight people can be better allies.

For DJ Ketia, meanwhile, the term should actually be “safer spaces”. The DJ, who also runs parties in Berlin and Portugal, acknowledges how difficult it can be to organize such events. “This might be too radical,” the DJ shared. “For me, a safe space means it’s safe for everyone and I don’t think it’s even possible. Someone who is on the autism spectrum would not feel safe at an event with loud music. I think it’s a goal that we work for in the direction of. It’s a potential, it’s a utopia, that–it’s very useful to get power and motivation to walk towards it.”

The German Embassy takes great pride in supporting LGBTQIA+ initiatives, both in the Philippines and in Germany. Berlin, the capital city known as a techno hub, is also recognized for its vibrant LGBTQIA+ scene. Aside from the annual Christopher Street Day parade, events all-year-round make the city a fun and welcoming place to live and thrive. The embassy acknowledges the significance of these events in promoting visibility, acceptance, and celebration of the LGBTQIA+ community in Berlin and worldwide.

“We are proud to have collaborated with ELEPHANT and support their important work in creating safe spaces for the LGBTQIA+ community,” said Ambassador Anke Reiffenstuel. “Through our partnership, we aim to foster dialogue, promote inclusivity, and celebrate the vibrant LGBTQIA+ culture in the Philippines. We also recognize the significance of events like the Christopher Street Day parade in Berlin, which showcases the power of unity and visibility in advancing LGBTQIA+ rights. I’m sure this won’t be the last time we work together,” she added.

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