Mela Habijan on Klea Pineda’s coming out: ‘She owned her identity’
Activist and Miss Trans Global 2020 Mela Habijan is fully supportive of Klea Pineda, who came out as gay on her 24th birthday and went public with her romance with girlfriend Katrice Kierulf.
In an interview with INQUIRER.net during a recognition dinner with Cosmopolitan Philippines magazine, Habijan said Pineda being open about her sexuality is a “beautiful” way of “owning” her identity and the love that she deserves.
“I am happy that she came out because we need those coming out stories. Sabi nila, ‘Sana dumating tayo sa pagkakataon na hindi kailangang mag-come out and that’s the dream.’ But because our story in terms of the queer narrative will always be in that sense of erasure, kailangan talagang mag-come out,” she said.
Habijan also noted that Pineda’s decision to open up about her romance with Kierulf is “important” for the LGBTQ community, saying that it empowers queer individuals to “no longer be afraid” of their love.
“Importante ‘yung mga kagaya ni Klea, kaya tuwang-tuwa ako sa kanya. I just saw the message of her girlfriend [Katrice] and it warms my heart to be seeing such a beautiful love story that nowadays, people are no longer afraid or we have opened the gates for people to not be scared of declaring their love. Kaya masaya ako para sa kanya, she owned her identity and more importantly, she owned her love, the love she deserves,” said Habijan.
A writer by profession, Habijan also expressed hopes that coming-out stories should not be sensationalized in mainstream media, and instead, should be framed as “empowering” and one that “strengthens allyship” with others.
“Very important that we don’t sensationalize LGBTQ+ stories because somehow, throughout the narratives, we have seen how much it has been sensationalized before,” she said, noting that there has been an improvement on how their stories are told. “But nowadays, because [we’ve seen] coming-out stories [that is about] victories, love stories, and stories that empower people, mas nano-normalize natin siya ngayon.”
“Kaya I’m grateful for the media who present these positive and optimistic stories because it brings out both,” she added.
The actress, who long advocated for SOGIE education and trans rights, also noted that the media plays a role in forming LGBTQ allies, saying that finding a “balance” is a must.
“At least, hindi na lang tayo all negative, but we’re seeing positive stories that somehow strengthen allyship with other people, most especially from cis-heterosexual people. Importante na naha-highlight ang positibo at negatibo, at nahahanap natin ng balanse,” she said.
‘I know my worth’
While being a trans woman in a conservative country, a confident Habijan appeared to be unbothered by those who remained critical about her sexuality. With a smile, she firmly said that she knows her worth as it brought her to her purpose.
“Because I now know my worth. I now know where my trans-ness and identity brought me. It brought me to victory, it brought me to my dreams, it brought me to my passion, and it brought me to my purpose. So whatever people would say against me, it no longer matters because I know that this identity has directed me to the life I want and I’m living it,” she shared.
Habijan, who was asked about being viewed as a force of hope for the local LGBTQ community, admitted that seeing messages saying “Thank you, Ate Mela” is what warms her heart the most.
“It’s the ‘Thank you, Ate Mela.’ I am in awe every time I receive messages of love from queer people I haven’t known of or I haven’t met, but they’ve read my story, they’ve heard me on my platforms and they always keep on telling me Ate Mela,” she said, noting that it gives her hope as well.
“And that gives me hope because my presence and the voice I have right now and the platform that was given to me, gives them courage to just simply face the world that no matter what happens to them, they would still be brave and courageous,” she further explained.
Apart from being a writer and activist, Habijan also dabbled into acting as she appeared in the shows “Asawa Ko, Karibal Ko,” “Magpakailanman,” and “Manilennials.” She also became a Guest Drag Enforcer in the reality show “Drag Den.” EDV
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