This month, we celebrate being true to yourself with the Philippine’s Pride Month 2021 theme of creating a safe space to express yourself freely. Here at Luxx, we strive to create a space of inclusivity, inspiration, and empowerment. This is why we welcomed LGBTQIA+ Luxx Community Members and allies to tell us a little bit about their stories.
Here, Josie (she/her) expresses her highlights during her transition and how she found safe spaces in the people who support her. For enby folks, Shawn (they/them), a.k.a MyxChanel, helps inspire non-binary babies to live their best selves by creating their own safe spaces for themselves. And, as an ally, Maki (she/her) reminds each of us that no matter what, there are people rooting for you always and in all ways; and that you can find safe spaces in allies, too.
Read their stories below.
Who is someone in the LGBTQ+ community you look up to?
Josie: I look up to Lady Gaga the most because she always shows up for the LGBTQ+ community and she always inspires us to be ourselves.
Maki: Bretman Rock! I truly admire his grit and hard work to get to where he is today. He serves as an inspiration to be whoever you want to be and be good at it! It's crazy how such simplicity can influence millions of lives every single day. Only someone so unapologetically true to themselves can make that kind of influence.
Tell us about your first Pride Parade!
Josie: I went to my first Pride Parade in June of 2018. Since it was my first and I heard it was a big event, I wanted to wear something “extra”. I made a jumpsuit and painted it with different colors. It was great seeing so many people come together to show the world that we are valid.
Shawn: My first pride parade was back in 2016 at Luneta Park. On the day itself, I felt such a strong inclination to still go to Pride even if it meant going on my own. Even if my immediate support system wasn’t there, I've never felt more at home, more safe, and more welcomed -- all in a venue full of complete strangers! I promised myself that day that I wouldn't ever skip Pride ever again, keeping in my heart those that truly wanted to march, but aren’t able to. I've walked every Metro Manila Pride March since then, attended the online pride event last year, and now am a performer for multiple pride events this 2021.
In what ways do you express yourself and celebrate who you are?
Josie: As a professional hair and makeup makeup artist, I celebrate myself the most through my art -- through putting on makeup and doing drag that I get to express my creativity.
Shawn: Aside from the bolder and more artistic ways of my self-expression, I celebrate who I am by being kind, patient, and loving to myself. I meet myself where I am each day, and aim to genuinely enjoy my own company. There are ups and downs, but wherever I am, I don’t force myself to be elsewhere. I walk with myself hand-in-hand to wherever I want to go. In this way, I can be my authentic self not just in how I express myself, but in how I am mentally and emotionally day to day.
Maki: Some people say I’m “too much” but I’m not sorry for it! I’m proud to be the crazy, extra, energetic, and out-of-this-world friend to everyone around me. With limited physical interactions, I express myself through the content I share on social media. If I feel like singing, I will. If I feel like dancing to a trending TikTok sound even if I can’t actually dance to save my life, I will. Nothing makes me happier than making other people happy.
Tell us about a memorable moment in your journey wherein you felt safe and comfortable with yourself.
Josie: For a lot of people including myself, transitioning isn’t the easiest thing to do. Even though it was scary knowing that some people wouldn’t take it well, I still felt safe starting my transition because I knew it was the right thing for me to do and I had people around me who supported me.
Shawn: I've been fortunate enough to have had multiple avenues for self-expression in my life, but I don't think anything feels as good as in-person pride events. There's just a level of euphoria coming together with united goals: to celebrate yourselves and each other, to be visible, and to fight for your rights. I'm a firm believer that Pride should go beyond June. There really is just magic in knowing that you're contributing to something more than you every day. Just by being present -- even just for yourself in the smallest way -- you become part of a bigger impact. You join in the protest for equal rights for you, your loved ones, and for every other marginalized sector alongside the LGBTQIA+ community.
What is your advice for those still finding their safe space?
Josie: My advice is for them to take their time. There are people who won’t understand, but there are also people who will be supportive. Before you come out, you have to surround yourself with people who understand you so you feel safe and supported.
Shawn: Don't wait for that safe space to come for you. Look for it or go as far as creating your own safe spaces. Safe spaces have to start with you. I believe gender and identity is both a spectrum and a journey that you go through. Continuously explore your identity deeply and the ways you want to express yourself. Allow yourself to feel safe within yourself, and you will attract the right people -- those that make you feel safe and those that feel safe around you.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.