There are agents that wanted to define and limit, and then there are those that stood up as an embodiment of self-acceptance and love
The Pride flag, with its iconic rainbow colors, symbolizes the strength and diversity of the LGBTQIA+ community. Each color represents a different aspect: red for life, violet for spirit, orange for healing, green for harmony, blue for justice, and yellow for triumph. Each hue, a vibrant thread woven into the fabric of a shared journey, whispered tales of resilience and liberation. Where hearts embraced the spectrum of love, colors converged in a celebration of unity and authenticity.
At LoveYourself’s Pride Night event, individuals representing all identities, genders, and sexualities in the wide array of the spectrum come together for one night to share a unifying experience: togetherness. In a conversation with beauty queen Megan Young, theater actor Markki Stroem, trans activist Mela Habijan, LoveYourself founder Dr. Vin Pagtakhan, drag queens Gorgeous Dawn, DeeDee Marié Holliday, Drag Race Philippines season 1 contestant Viñas DeLuxe, and Queen of the Universe season 2 competitor Maxie, and the cast of Philippines’ first queer dating show Sparks Camp, they share their unique and colorful insights on Pride, and advice and hopes for the future of the community.
Passionate Red: Igniting the Flame
From the passionate depths of crimson, a flame ignited, fueled by the courage to be seen and heard. It was entwined with the warmth of tangerine, a flicker of inspiration that dared to dream beyond boundaries. The color red embodies love, passion, and the vibrant energy that drives change.
With a resounding voice and an unwavering spirit, Dr. Vin Pagtakhan shared a mantra that is all too familiar yet still resonates deeply within the hearts of many: “If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?” These words carried a profound truth that transcended the boundaries of gender, sexuality, and societal expectations. He understood that the path to genuine love and connection began with embracing one’s own worth and authenticity, recognizing that self-love was not a selfish act, but rather a transformative journey of self-discovery and acceptance.
Regal Violet: Embracing Authenticity
The spirit found solace in the royal hues of amethyst and lavender, embracing the power of authenticity. Violet symbolizes individuality, spirituality, and the celebration of diverse identities.
As an ally, Megan Young understands that pride goes beyond a mere celebration. She sees it as a crucial opportunity to support the LGBTQIA+ community and uplift their voices. Megan expresses, “For me, as an ally, it means so much that I’m able to be here to support the LGBTQIA+ community because a lot of people that are important in my life that I love deeply and care deeply about are part of this community.” She believes that being present, raising awareness, and promoting understanding are essential ways to truly celebrate pride.
One of the cast members of Sparks Camp, Gabe Balita, highlighted the multifaceted nature of pride, seeing it as both a celebration and a protest. He emphasized the need to fight for LGBTQIA+ rights while acknowledging the progress made. Gabe expressed the importance of recognizing that there is still more work to be done and encouraged celebrating achievements while pushing for further change.
Viñas sees pride as a celebration of love and community, promoting acceptance and normalcy; DeeDee emphasizes the freedom of creative expression, celebrating pride daily; Gorgeous Dawn views pride as a celebration of individuality and identity, embracing the vibrant colors of the community; and Maxie sees pride as a celebration of gender identity, encouraging self-expression through art and performance.
Vibrant Orange: Fostering Healing and Enthusiasm
Within this vibrant color, the presence of orange shone brightly, radiating with healing and enthusiasm. Like the warmth of summer sunrise, orange symbolizes energy, creativity, and the transformative power of embracing one’s true self. It reminds us to be resilient, embrace change, and approach life with passion and a sense of possibility.
Mela recognizes the ongoing challenges of discrimination and violence faced by the LGBTQIA+ community, urging collective action and advocating for protective legislation. Meanwhile, Markki focuses on the issues affecting LGBTQIA+ youth, highlighting a shooting incident during Pride Month and the community’s resilient response by extending the celebration for another month.
In regards to drag, Viñas encourages embracing the art form without hesitation, emphasizing inclusivity. DeeDee acknowledges the digital age’s advantages for aspiring drag artists, urging experimentation and self-expression. Gorgeous Dawn advises pursuing passions while being kind and supportive. Maxie highlights practice, makeup skills, and self-discovery on the path to becoming a drag artist.
Enchanting Green: Embracing Nature’s Embrace
Emerald tendrils emerged, an ode to nature’s embrace, reminding all that growth and acceptance are intertwined. Like a flourishing forest, lime and jade whispered stories of resilience, shaping an ensemble of belonging. Green symbolizes harmony, renewal, and the interconnectedness of all beings.
DeeDee advises young individuals struggling with their identity to take their time, love themselves, respect others, and build a strong support system. Gorgeous Dawn reassures them that the day will come when they will fully experience who they want to be, urging them not to rush the process. Maxie emphasizes the availability of support from understanding people and encourages them to take their time, allowing their wings to spread and soar.
Collectively, the Sparks Camp cast offered valuable advice for young individuals navigating their identities. Karl Bau encouraged taking one’s time, finding a safe space, and trusting individuals when coming out; Nick Deocampo shared his own experience of being labeled inaccurately and emphasized that only individuals themselves can define their identity; Alex De Ungria advised against pressuring oneself and urged enjoying life’s journey of self-discovery; and Bong Gonzales highlighted the significance of self-love and avoiding the harsh judgment of others.
Tranquil Blue: Seeking Serenity
With tranquil grace, azure brushed against the canvas, carrying the serenity of a calm sea. Cobalt and sapphire joined the dance, inviting reflection and introspection, evoking a longing for a world where hearts were free. Blue represents peace, serenity, and the pursuit of justice.
Mela promotes visibility and amplifying voices to combat anti-LGBT bills, urging bravery in the pursuit of equal rights. Markki highlights global anti-LGBT bills, advocating for protests to educate and showcase the power of drag, while emphasizing the importance of embracing authenticity and the full LGBTQIA+ spectrum.
Viñas hopes for protective legislation ensuring LGBTQIA+ rights; DeeDee envisions a future where individuals are judged by their contributions, not gender; Gorgeous Dawn desires more recognition for drag queens in all aspects of life; and Maxie yearns for a future of happiness, love, and freedom from bullying—united in love.
Golden Yellow: Illuminating Joy
Golden rays of sunlight intermingled, as daffodil and canary danced in harmony, casting their illuminating glow upon a world thirsting for joy. The color yellow represents happiness, positivity, and the triumph of the human spirit.
Markki and the Sparks Camp cast express admiration and gratitude towards the Golden Gays, older LGBTQIA+ individuals who faced challenges in a world of suppression and limited acceptance. Markki recognizes the progress made in merging diverse groups within the community and thanks the older generation for their fight for rights and for shaping a vibrant Pride Month. The Sparks Camp cast acknowledges the struggles of the Golden Gays, their courage to be authentic, and their role in paving the way for the younger generation. They find inspiration in the Golden Gays’ stories and express heartfelt appreciation for their significant contribution to the community’s progress, saying, “Golden is the right way to describe them.”
The Pride colors merged, forming a powerful chorus of solidarity and pride. They celebrated diverse identities, encouraging acceptance and unconditional love. In this vibrant tableau, the colors spoke of inclusion and equality, inviting all to embrace the kaleidoscope of humanity. They painted a world where love knew no boundaries, authenticity was celebrated, and diversity was cherished.
As the colors merged and intertwined, they painted not just a picture, but also a promise—a promise to honor the past, celebrate the present, and illuminate a future where love, in all its glorious shades, would perpetually reign.
Photography KIM SANTOS