Proudly waving the rainbow flag for this year’s edition of Miss Universe Philippines are Clare Inso (Cebu City), Kali Navea-Huff (Pasig), and Dianne Padillo (Cebu City) – a feat that most likely would have never happened 10 years ago.
Thankfully, we now live in a Universe where minds are more open and hearts are more accepting. These ladies are relishing in this progress for society as LGBTQIA+ members and allies themselves.
Clare, who identifies as queer, exclaims, “I didn’t expect to have like-minded people to talk about these things with. Fun times!” As a content creator, she has always used her social media accounts to be open about her sexuality and relationship with her partner. To her surprise, she’s been getting really positive feedback from most people. “They enjoy me living authentically,” she asserts.
Kali, a bisexual woman, points out, “Visibility is so important.” She grew up thinking that the whole world was against her friends and family members that identify as part of the community. But knowing how they’ve made the decision to live and love freely, she has learned to appreciate their bravery to go against the norm and simply live their lives the way they want to.
Moreover, she explains, “As a feminist in progress, you cannot be a feminist without including trans women, without including bisexual women, without including all women of different backgrounds, because then your feminism is not intersectional. It needs to be intersectional, it needs to be intentional, it needs to be international.”
Dianne, on the other hand, is a heterosexual female who considers herself a strong ally of the members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Her gay friends, in fact, were the happiest for her when she made the decision to join Miss Universe Philippines. However, bashers felt otherwise, trying to disparage her by telling her that she looks like a transgender woman. Unfortunately for the bashers, this does not deter Dianne, “I don’t find it offensive. I’m not ashamed of it. Rather, I take it as a compliment.” She shares that she has high respect for transgender people, considering that they have gone through so much in life already and persevere as the strong and multi-faceted women they are.
Despite gaining support from her followers, Clare still has a wish about the plight of the members of the community. She actually looks forward to the time when what she does isn’t so extraordinary anymore. Kali agrees, touching on the difference between acceptance and tolerance. Dianne furthers that despite the improvements in terms of acceptance of the community, cases of discrimination and violence that still exist make it difficult for young LGBTQIA+ to open up and embrace their authentic selves.
Highlighting the role of pageantry in sparking conversations about LGBTQIA+ issues, Kali believes that this platform can capture what they want out of our society and where we’re headed. Clare brings up a significant fact, “Especially that the new owner of the Miss Universe Organization is a transwoman, and that’s really powerful!” She adds that this echoes what they’re fighting for, given that their community is being represented. Dianne stresses that someone’s sexual orientation should never be an issue. Capping it off, Kali hopes that having this important conversation could help them promote acceptance.
While yes, the ways our society addresses issues surrounding the members of the community have tremendously progressed, there still is a long way to go. And the Miss Universe Philippines ladies are so excited to take up space and make their voices be heard to have a more inclusive and accepting Philippines.
PRODUCED BY: Dianne Padillio | Kali Navea-Huff | Clare Inso | Ica Imanuelle Macazo
CREATIVE PRODUCER: Nathan Vargas
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Ica Imanuelle Macazo | Rexy Jolly Conopio | Angel Fagaragan
PHOTOGRAPHER: Rap Yu