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Pride Beyond the Prisms

Article by: Frances Qarl M. Tolosa, Michaella Louise A. Llopis, Ysa Andre A. Mendoza, Princess Jazlyn B. Pereda, Crismhil S. Anselmo, and Maurine Claire F. Kim

Graphics and Photos by: Aliza Belle C. Dayao

In traversing the course of life, understanding oneself is a pivotal step in embracing one’s identity. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, and others (LGBTQIA+) community is one of the most significant manifestations of how self-identity is fluid and should be celebrated regardless. In honor of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, every June is a month-long festivity of vibrancy in the revelry of homosexuality and their fight for equality.

This Pride Month, The New Builder (TNB) released “Pride and Prisms,” a literary project comprised of anecdotes of love, passion, and freedom. But beyond words in literary pieces are lived experiences — real stories of real people — that are just as colorful and even more worthy of being told.

Without a doubt, Ensuring the safety of those who are part of the community, “coming out of the closet,” is one road not taken by everybody. As the expedition of one’s Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression (SOGIE) is a long haul; “coming out of the closet” is one road not taken by everybody. To cap off this year’s pride month, The New Builder interviewed select Mapúans regarding their experience in piloting their identity and how they manage to express themselves in and out of the university.

Zoe Supan: Bare Authenticity

An active EECE student and staunch sociopolitical activist, Zoe Supan’s coming out story came in three parts: to herself, to society, and to her family. With the help of a close non-binary friend, she explored labels and discovered her initial non-binary identity –  a self-realization of queerness,. “Being queer gave me the necessary framework to understand the human nature of change and how our reality is very fragile.”

 Later, realizing a call toward femininity and dealing with the initial struggles and fears that came with it, she now lives life as herself instead of following expectations of how a woman should act.

“I think living out being trans is the harder part, socially,” she remarked. Zoe describes coming out socially as having to change people’s perceptions that were built on a past self. However, she is faced with challenges with wrong assumptions and people viewing her identity as “something about belief rather than something that can actually be real.”

On campus, her experience with the university and its student body is more on the side of acceptance out of perfunctory politeness rather than progressive ideals. Zoe encourages other queer people to go outside, explore, and be human; “Makibaka! Huwag matakot!”

Maurine Kim: Saying and Slaying

Being part of the community herself, Editor-in-Chief Maurine Claire F. Kim found the strength to finally share her story with the public through TNB’s Pride Month feature. Maurine’s coming out story is happening right now, in her own words. “I wrote countless stories through The New Builder, it's time that my story is told through it as well,” she stated.

Maurine recalled that from a young age, she romantically liked people outside of the opposite sex. This led her to experiment with various labels — identifying as straight when she brushed this off as simple idolizing (or just “girl crushes”), lesbian when she realized she liked women more than men, bisexual when she accepted that she liked men still, and finally pansexual when she realized she could see herself loving any gender.

Despite her newfound self-awareness, Maurine continues to face challenges, like the burden of needing to hide from other people. “Pretending is the hardest, especially to the people I love. Complicated doesn’t even describe it. I am hiding a big part of who I am because even though I will still be loved, I know I will not be accepted.

When asked about coming out, Maurine reflects on the personal nature of the journey. “Coming out is a process. Before anything, you need to come out to yourself. You do not owe the world your story, but you do owe it to yourself to write it.”


Tashia Ligueran: Unique and Unapologetic

Aside from being a junior officer of the Honor Society of Mapúa (HSM) and a member of United Mapúans for Safe Spaces and Equality for All, Tashia Ligueran is an academic exemplar and an LGBTQIA+ advocate. At the young age of nine, she already figured out she likes women and identified as bisexual and later embraced herself as a lesbian.

Something that encapsulates her as a person is being demiromantic, one who couldn’t fall in love with another unless she formed a deeper emotional connection with them emulates falling in love with a prior deep emotional connection with a person. Tashia ha’s never been afraid to delve into herself as she realized she’s polyamorous in mid-2022, championing polyamory both on campus and in social media. [...] there is still a long way to go when it comes to polyamory awareness and acceptance, and this is on top of the ongoing struggle for true queer acceptance,” Tashia stated.

“Ordinary” will never be included in the list of words to describe Tashia —– a proud lesbian on the autism spectrum; she never thinks twice about voicing out for people like her. “Maybe you have not realized it yet, but there is someone just like you somewhere out there. There are people out there who will accept you as you are. […] You are not alone. You are worthy of love and respect just the way you are.

Despite having struggles with unification and prejudice, Tashia bounces back, persevering in the name of representation. and continues to represent LGBTQIA+.  She continues to inspire in the pursuit of fully embracing one’s identity unapologetically.

Azi Dayao: Fluid and Free

Navigating through her SOGIE, TNB’s resident photographer/videographer and Multimedia Arts student Azi Dayao is as queer and all-encompassing as the rainbow. It took years of exploring and learning about the spectrum of gender and sexuality for her to feel as free as she is now.

Throughout the years, Azi shared that she didn’t plan on coming out but never shied away from being true to her queer identity. However, since dating her girlfriend in 2022, she has been more open and vocal about it with her family, who supported her wholeheartedly. “Although we all were blatantly aware that I was most definitely not straight, it was a heartwarming moment for all of us,” Azi remarked.

Recognizing the struggles of navigating through one’s queer identity, Azi believes that coming out is unique for everyone on the spectrum but emphasizes one main truth: “…everyone has the right to announce their identities on their own terms.” The journey to discover one’s authentic self, as Azi experienced, involved a lot of introspection and nitpicking of what’s real and what is for show — but with the proper push and support, it can be a profound experience.

Nini Rodriguez: Queer and Queen

The Executive Secretary of the HSM, Nini Rodriguez, knew she was feminine and gay since she was a child. Still, upon the discovery of SOGIE and its diversity, she later subsequently realized that she was a transgender woman.

She expressed how freeing it was to let the world know about her identity while emphasizing that their queerness is valid whether they come out or not. For Nini, coming out of the closet should be done according to the person’s preference and what they are comfortable doing,  “Only the person [has] the power to decide when, where, and how. Coming out is not the same for everyone.” Moreover, she elaborated that coming out is a lifelong process and should not be rushed.

Being a queer, transgender woman, Nini had encountered hurdles, such as the misinformation about being trans or having to use her dead name. Nonetheless, she is happy with her experiences as a queer person and is appreciative of the people around her for looking at her the same regardless of her gender.

While on campus, she is treated the same as other students and hasn’t faced acts of transphobia. Nini cheers for the people still finding their SOGIE, advising them to take their time and not be discouraged, stating, “Know that you're not alone [...] Always remember: You are seen, accepted, loved, and appreciated."

Mark Ferino: Vivacious Visionary

Current President of the Association of Geologists and Geological Engineers of Mapúa and former Central Student Council President Mark Ferino underscores the importance of creating a gentle environment for queers. Whether in the closet or not, he shares that one’s comfort should always be a priority; thus, for him, coming out is not a necessity, especially when the closet is snug.

Mark is not exempt from the social norms projected onto him. However, the discrimination did not hold him back from achieving more. Rather, his queerness has enabled him to be more creative, expressive, and empowered to go above and beyond as a student leader, later saying, “My SOGIE helped me to be more empathetic and mas understanding sa community as a whole.”

Mark is grateful to the student body for treating him with respect, regardless of his sexuality. He imparts that one’s journey towards self-acceptance is, and should not be, time-bound, stating “Pag-isipan mo lang ‘yung kung anong gusto mong gawin and kung ‘yung anong gusto mong maging ikaw […] be yourself.”

To be queer is to find freedom in expression, as the span of queerness is not boxed in a single, definitive label. Frolicking through the meadows of nonconformity is a lifelong adventure of recognition and a continual fight for equality. In silence and in resonance, there is beauty in homosexuality —– Happy Pride Month!

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