Kaleidoscope: A Pride Portraits Project

A couple of years back, when someone identified as something other than straight, there was one fact that he would be immediately confronted with: that not everyone will accept him for his identity. And for the longest time, one narrative rang true: that of LGBTQIA+ people getting discriminated against by employers, schools, and even their own families, just because they fail to fit into a neat, heteronormative mold. 

But as with everything else, times are a-changing when it comes to the issue of greater LGBTQIA+  acceptance — and it's the youth who are taking the lead. 

Here, five individuals of different orientations and identities, share their thoughts on LGBTQIA+ Pride, visibility, and yes, their favourite Queer icons:

REGINA, Writer

How would you describe the LGBTQIA+ community to a stranger?

I feel like perhaps the biggest misconception about it is that it is drastically different from any other community out there that you or I are part of. At its very core, it isn't; it's only those who refuse to accept it or understand it who see it as such. How would I describe it? As something organic, flourishing, and thriving, comprised of an assortment of brilliant, dynamic, loving, kind, and powerful individuals who are trying their very best to live as their most authentic selves and to empower those around them to do the same. It's a community built on a foundation of love, truth, openness, vulnerability, strength, and acceptance.

Why is Pride important?

Because there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, absolutely nothing that should be hidden, absolutely nothing that shouldn't be celebrated, and Pride drives that home. Pride is a celebration of all the beautiful things the community is and will become. Pride is that one voice, pride is realizing that you are not alone. When you carry that within you, you will always walk tall.

Why is visibility important?

I feel like no one has said it better than Junot Díaz, one of my favourite authors. "You guys know about vampires? … You know, vampires have no reflections in a mirror? There's this idea that monsters don't have reflections in a mirror. And what I've always thought isn’t that monsters don't have reflections in a mirror. It's that if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves. And growing up, I felt like a monster in some ways. I didn't see myself reflected at all. I was like, 'Yo, is something wrong with me? That the whole society seems to think that people like me don't exist?' And part of what inspired me, was this deep desire that before I died, I would make a couple of mirrors. That I would make some mirrors so that kids like me might see themselves reflected back and might not feel so monstrous for it." THAT is why visibility is so important.

What makes you proud to be an ally of this community?

I can't begin to express how much it has given me. I try to think of words with which to describe it or encompass it, but they always fall short. And if the community can do something like that for someone like me, give me a home, kinship, warmth, understanding, I can only imagine how much more so that must ring true for someone who is LGBTQIA+ themselves. Being an ally is the least I can do to give back to a family that has given me so, so much. To stand by the LGBTQIA+ community, to stand alongside its courage, passion, conviction, and strength, has been my privilege.

Complete this sentence: LGBTQIA+ people are _____.

LGBTQIA+ people are love. Is that a cliché thing to say? Maybe. But is it true? Absolutely.

Who is your ultimate Queer icon?

THE BABADOOK. LOLJK. I love me some Gaga, but I have to give it to the Queen of Pop who inspired all those who came after her: Madonna.

JUSTIN, Student

How would you describe being a part of the LGBTQIA+ community to a stranger?

It’s colourful and it’s fun! The LGBTQIA+ community is teeming with diversity and it celebrates just that. The world tells us to act and dress a certain way but to that, we say, “fuck you!” Everyone here is different and that’s okay. We are a family of culture and that is something we celebrate and are proud of.

Why is Pride important?

Pride is a great platform to showcase our culture in a heteronormative society. We need to show them that we are strong and that we are proud and that we’ll keep on marching with our over-the-top outfits and rainbow-colored flags until we are heard and understood. Pride is also a good platform to raise awareness to the needs of the community like HIV awareness, SOGIE, hate crimes, and bullying. And really, Pride is here just so we can share our creativity and spread love and a little bit of fun to the world.

What does Pride mean to you?

Pride to me means embracing what and who you truly are. Sharing that and being able to help others reach and achieve self-love and acceptance is what makes Pride meaningful to me.

Why is visibility important?

Visibility is important to any minority because it is the first step to being heard. If by marching and celebrating Pride, we get to influence at least one person who is having a hard time coming to terms about their sexuality, if by any chance, we get to be the voices of those who are still in the closet who are afraid to come out because of the harsh realities and consequences this society offers to people like us, then every ounce of effort is worth it. We need to be visible for our brothers and sisters who cannot.

What makes you proud to be part of the LGBTQIA+ community?

The community’s resilience. As a gay boy who lived his life in a religious Catholic family and homophobic community, I know the struggles of being queer. We get invalidated almost everyday—by strangers, by our own families, sometimes even by the members of this community, yet we are still here, standing and surviving, spreading love and pride to the world.

Complete this sentence: LGBTQIA+ people are _____.

LGBTQIA+ people are sick--niiiiiiiiiing! Yassgawdhalleluokurr! *tongue pop + death drop*

Who’s your ultimate Queer icon?

“If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an amen up in hurr?” – RuPaul Charles

RED, Student

How would you describe being part of the LGBTQIA+ community to a stranger?

We can all relate to being different and in this community, inclusion and diversity is celebrated. This community provides an inclusive environment for all, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.

Why is Pride important?

Because it promotes love and acceptance. Because it promotes freedom and human rights. Because it challenges homophobia and transphobia. Because it is empowering.

What does Pride mean to you?

Pride means me being able to just be me. Pride means me being able to live a life not feeling like a mistake.

Why is visibility important?

Growing up, i never really identified with anyone. I have traits my family considered to be 'too feminine'. I wasnt a 'typical boy' who liked 'typical boy stuff'. And so i thought 'anong problema sakin?' Visibility was important for me because I got see other people who are like me. People who look, act, and dress like me. It is important, especially for the LGBTQIA+ youth, to see faces they can look to and identify with.

What makes you proud to be part of this community?

Rupaul once said "We as gay people get to choose our family and the people we're around." This community is my family. This community is friendship and acceptance. This community is founded on love.

Complete this sentence: LGBTQIA+ people are ___.

LGBTQIA+ people are human beings, too.

Who’s your ultimate Queer icon?

I would say David Bowie, because he defied gender boundaries. He blurred the ideas of gender binaries.

JULIANNA, Stylist

How would you describe being part of the LGBTQIA+ community to a stranger?

I would say that its like a second family that accepts you completely for who you are.

Why is Pride important?

Because I think its a step towards equality that the LGBTQIA+ rightfully deserve

What does Pride mean to you?

For me it means the community's solidarity towards fighting discrimination

Why is visibility important?

Because until now we do not share the same rights as heterosexual people do.

What makes you proud to be part of this community?

The fact that we experience hate and inequality just for being who we are yet we continuously fight.

Complete this sentence: LGBTQIA+ people are ___.

LGBTQIA+ people are the strongest people I know. 

Who’s your ultimate Queer icon?

Andreja Peijic and Poy Treechada

NOELLE, Pansexual Princess of Prudencio

How would you describe being part of the LGBTQIA+ community to a stranger?

Idedescribe ko sya na it's a Community na ituturing kang Family. Not only that, it's a Community na puno ng makukulay na tao, and mga malalakas ang fighting spirit.

Why is Pride important?

Pride is important kasi ito yung time na i-cecelebrate natin yung love and history natin as a Community.

What does Pride mean to you?

Pride for me, means celebrating your life and being proud of who you are, unicorns and all~

Why is visibility important?

Para malaman ng nakararami na andito tayo. Hindi tayo patitinag sa kahit anumang ibatong problem sa atin. Andito tayo para magtulungan, and lumaban.

What makes you proud to be part of this community?

Nakakaproud kasi nawiwitness ko kung paano tayo lumaban as a community. And napi-feel ko talaga yung warmth and support nila for me, pati na rin sa ibang tao, mapa-LGBTQIA+ People man or Ally.

Complete this sentence: LGBTQIA+ people are ___.

LGBTQIA+ People are the bravest people that I know.

Who’s your ultimate Queer icon?

Nung bata ako, Audrey Hepburn. But now, si Lady Gaga!