Unabashedly embrace who you are with #ConversePride
Pride Month has gained cultural significance as an ongoing protest and movement, so more institutions and establishments have joined the fight. And in the case of the well-loved shoe brand Converse, they’ve often hit the nail on the head when combining genuine solidarity, advocacy and awareness in their Pride Month campaigns. They’ve highlighted queer creatives for past campaigns and partnered with a handful of organizations that align with their ideals. This year, Converse encourages everyone to say that they are #ProudToBe. And on our side of the globe, Converse Philippines gathers icons who represent the diversity of the queer community.
Individuals from all ages and walks of life front this year’s #ConversePride, following the philosophy and battlecry #ProudToBe. The phrase means living your authentic truth on your own terms, never limited or bound by the labels you choose to identify with. Converse Philippines insists that the queer community isn’t a monolith, but rather it’s a spectrum of different lived experiences that make it as colorful as the flag it waves.
Up ahead, we get to know our reps better through Converse #ProudToBe.
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#ProudToBe my authentic self
It’s no secret that the road to self-acceptance is a difficult one. Angelo Ramirez de Cartagena attributes his journey to a progression of small things, such as not minding his flamboyance and embracing his softness before ultimately owning up to his truth. It was a leap, given that he grew up in an environment where gender stereotypes were heavily adhered to. Now, he fully embraces the authentic Angelo through the simplest things, “So posting on Instagram, wearing what you want, walking the way you want—kahit kumembot ka, kumembot ka (even if you strut, keep strutting)!” Part of that is participating in #ConversePride, letting him take this win and do something right in his own way.
Meanwhile, professional DJ Kate Jagdon turns to music as a tool to help her live her truth. “I express myself through music,” she divulges. “And through that, I represent the LGBTQIA+ community by freely expressing myself.” Looking back, Kate mentions feeling held back in the closet, forgoing opportunities that would feed her fulfillment and purpose. So if she could go back in time and tell her younger self one thing, it would be: “Just be you, and the people will love you for it.” And it’s true, whether she’s playing for large festivals or taking over the DJ table for Converse #CreateNext events, you will tune in to Kate Jagdon.
For Gen Z Content Creator Shainna Gayle de Castro, the fear of judgment from others made her stay in her metaphorical closet. Only when she joined digital reality show The House of Collab did she meet other members of the LGBTQIA+ community who were out and living their truths. This led her to realize that being queer isn’t something to hide, and that it was her time to fully embrace her truest self. “Pero ngayon, kahit anong ipakita ko, yung girly side ko or yung boyish side ko, napapakita ko siya with confidence and talagang proud na ako sa ganoon (But now, whatever I show, my girly side or boyish side, I show them with confidence and I’m very proud of that),” she shares. So now, she celebrates her first Pride campaign with a brand she’s been a fan of for the longest time: Converse.
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#ProudToBe a representative
Whether it’s people from different generations and industries, #ConversePride further explores the diversity of the queer community. It’s the kind of representation that individuals like Kush, who acknowledges the ever-changing nature of sexuality and sexual orientation that shouldn’t be bound to looks, hope to create for the younger generation of the LGBTQIA+ community. “I'm most proud of the fact that the brand gives you so much leeway in who you are, how you dress or how we even came in,” she shares. “I'm really happy that Converse celebrates the individuality of all of us here today. We all come from very different backgrounds—not all of us are content creators. Some of us work in fashion and in film, and having that representation that we didn't have before makes a world of difference to me.”
In the same line, actor-writer-director Fifth Solomon believes that along with creating safe spaces for the queer community to thrive, pushing for visibility and representation is as important in the movement. He proclaims, “Kasi pag nakikita tayo ng mga younger generation ng LGBTQIA+ (When the younger generation of the LGBTQIA+ see us), when they hear us, nalalaman nila na they have a support system (they learn that they have a support system), that they're not alone, they're normal and that they can also chase their dreams.”
#ProudToBe supporting the community
When people see her in the #ConversePride campaign, Brigiding wants “people to learn to let loose, have fun, be yourself and just really be proud of what you can do.” This mindset pushes the drag queen to accept the things that come her way, embracing the blessings she never thought she’d be able to receive in a lifetime. But more than that, she also uplifts members of the community through representation and as Hose Mother to the House of Ding. “The community that we built, it’s important,” she insists. “Hindi siya yung mother-mother, family-family lang eh (It’s not like the mother-mother, family-family thing). It’s a support system. It’s the chosen family that we get to have kasi ang dami sa atin nahihirapan mag-come out (many of us still struggle to come out) or be who they really want to be.”
Celebrity makeup artist and Miss International 2022 Fuschia Anne Ravena always knew who she was at a young age. With the help of a very supportive family and a fellow trans woman cousin, she realized her authentic self and felt secure. But just because she didn’t feel the need to hide doesn’t negate her advocacy regarding representing trans women for #ConversePride. “I want people to learn about inclusivity—it exists. We trans women exist,” Fuschia proclaims proudly. “We need more visibility not just in the community but also in this kind of industry. That's what I want people to know that we're also human; we can also feel love and affection.”
Gen Z influencer Antonio Stevens shares that he’s glad that people from his generation are a lot more open to shrugging off gendered things, perhaps because tides had slowly changed when he was growing up. Watching characters that broke gender stereotypes showed him that there’s no harm in liking what they like, despite clothes and hobbies being previously gendered by society. But not everyone has that nonchalance and security at a young age, an aspect of Antonio that his peers admire about him. He often shares a piece of advice: “If you want it, just try it. The one thing that I don't like the most is saying, sayang (what a waste).” This philosophy aligns him with Converse, a brand unafraid to ruffle feathers—even though there shouldn’t be any features that should be ruffled in the first place.
If we could sum up our learnings from these eight individuals saying they’re #ProudToBe, it’s that living authentically will open the floodgates of beautiful, amazing things you deserve to have.
More than letting different members of the community tell their stories and highlight the beauty of diversity, Converse is also planning to partner up with allied organizations to help in social responsibility. And, of course—what is Pride without a big shebang? Anticipate more opportunities to rock items from the #ConversePride collection when you follow Converse Philippines on Instagram and Facebook. Shop it online through the official website or in-store in branches nationwide.
Photos Converse Philippines
Art Macky Arquilla