Pride Month—30 days of the year that the Rainbow Flag flies higher and prouder than usual. The month of June may be winding down, but the spirit of Pride will continue to shine—boldly, brightly, and in full spectrum —until next June rolls around. But, as any member of the LGBTQIA+ community will tell you, it has been (and still is) a long, oft-difficult journey getting here; one that has been strewn with obstacles and challenges. “Sorry, I’m gay,” are words that members of the LGBTQIA+ community are all too familiar with—in fact, over 60% of LGBTQIA+ Filipinos have, at some point or other, apologized for who they are.
Which is why Lazada Philippines is here to remind us: Love yourself. You do YOU! And do it with your head held high, always. In partnership with self-awareness and empowerment advocates LoveYourself, Inc., Lazada champions unity, inclusivity, and being unapologetically proud of who you are—not just during Pride Month, but all year round.
One of the country’s leading eCommerce platform drives the message home with its annual Pride Month Campaign, Pride is Alive. The #LazadaPride2021 celebration featured a roster of activities, from virtual fashion shows and makeup segments to online comedy and discourse, and even a selection of pride-themed pastries. An array of talented local artists, including chef and author Clyde San Pedro, a roster of Cebu-based fashion designers, and popular drag queens Eva Papaya, Ms. Letket, Precious, Eken, Turing & Bench lent a hand to support the events, which took place on LazLive and Lazada’s Facebook, Tiktok, and YouTube channels. The highlight of the festivity was the launch of the “Apology” video vignette directed by multi-awarded Filipino director, Pepe Diokno.
It happens subtly
“On the surface of things, our country seems to accept the LGBTQIA+ community; but as a people, we often keep our biases to ourselves. Discrimination often happens subtly—in looks and whispers, anonymous posts, and in law. And it’s in law that we have a long way to go, really,” renowned motion picture director, producer and screenwriter Pepe Diokno points out. As such, this is the central theme of Lazada’s 90-second Pride reel directed by Diokno. The vignette highlights scenarios that may as well have been true-to- life occurrences, for their relatability within Philippine society. In a minute and a half, Diokno effectively captures a lifetime of subtle, silent struggle; yet through it all, pride, love, and acceptance always win.
Raffy Parcon, Client Services Director and Executive Officer of Publicis JimenezBasic , the agency behind the campaign, notes that “what society has labeled LGBTQIA+ individuals to be contributes to difficulties with self-acceptance, leading many of us to apologize merely because of our sexuality. In our survey, we found that 60% of LGBTQIA+ individuals have apologized for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, and other non-heterosexual orientations.”
Understanding the situation and the continued need for transformation, Lazada and its partners aim to build affinity—to bridge the gap, if you will—and to promote a true sense of transformative acceptance in the Philippine setting. And, it all begins on their platform.
A rainbow of (equal) opportunities
Twenty-one-year old John Angelo Nierva has sold specially designed Pride shirts and uniquely-named perfumes—(Amoy Mo ‘To” (“Here’s Your Scent”), “Amoy Pogi” (“Scent of A Cutie”), “Amoy Rich Kid” (“Scent of A Rich Kid”), “Amoy Dyosa” (“Scent of A Goddess”), among others—on his Lazada shops, ExtravagantShop and Vaklang Store, which he started in 2016 and 2018, respectively. He says that running a business as a member of the LGBTQIA+ Community is “fun, exciting and full of creativity. You have a lot of colorful ideas in your mind, sharing your skills with everyone.” He also points out, however, that it has not been without its share of heartache, especially if you are supporting your household. But, despite the challenges, he isn’t giving up. “Being an LGBT member I’m…part of a colorful rainbow…so bakit ako susuko? Laban hanggat may makitakang Bahaghari sa Langit. LUMABAN ka (…so why will I surrender? Fight until you see that Rainbow in the Heavens. FIGHT)! He encourages like-minded entrepreneurs in the community to “put effort” in all that they do, and to “surprise your customer in a good way; make it unique and bring yourself into your product.”
Another entrepreneur, Renan Capellan, had tried his hand at being a beautician at a salon, and worked in direct selling for over a decade before opening GO N CLICK PH, a beauty store on Lazada. “I was one of the first to sell on Lazada in the direct selling community,” he says. “Just a few hours after signing up, I got my first order. To convert buyers, I put a lot of effort in maximizing the product display page and getting a perfect Content Score.” Through his Lazada store, Renan is able to support his family in Masbate, his home province. “My mother is seventy, my grandmother eighty-eight years old. With my Lazada earnings, I’ve been able to set aside money to have their house renovated.” Having grown up in a small provincial town, Renan shares that he never thought he would, or even that he could, become an entrepreneur. “People told us to study hard so that we could be teachers or engineers. No one told us that we could be entrepreneurs.” Now, however, a world of possibility has opened to him, and he plans to someday have his own beauty brand. “Right now, I’m trying to research and learn as much as I can. One day I’ll be like them,” he says, referring to the brands he used to peddle in the direct selling industry.
Some sellers have likewise gotten fully behind the Lazada Pride campaign, with brands like Milkwear committing a portion of their proceeds to funding activities of the campaign.
At the end of the rainbow
So, having come this far down the road, exactly what lies at the end of the rainbow? Some may wish for thatidiomatic pot of gold. But, for members of the LGBTQIA+ community, one of the best things they could find at the end of the rainbow would be the strength to say: “Sorry, NOT sorry!” To live their lives with the pride they have valued and carried, and to be afforded every equal opportunity they have always deserved, in every way. It is a transformation, one radiant color at a time.
And, as Parcon so aptly emphasizes, “allies are key to this transformation.” Whether at home, at the workplace, at school, and in other social setting, we must all do our part to make society more welcoming and inclusive for everyone.
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