A candidate at a local beauty pageant in the Philippines has been praised after speaking about her girlfriend during the question-and-answer round.
Maria Izobel Taguiam, 17, was representing the municipality of Tagobon at the first Binibining Cebu pageant on Oct. 28.
Taguiam made it to the final leg of the competition, the question-and-answer round, where she was up against 11 other candidates. Before her turn, she was asked by the hosts if she had a boyfriend.
While she did not win the coveted crown, her response to the hosts’ curiosity was epic:
“Yes, but not a boyfriend but a girlfriend, because I believe love does not see gender and if you love that someone, go for it.”
The high school student from Cebu’s Southwestern University went viral in social media shortly, with many praising her choice to open up.
Despite its religiosity, the Philippines has always been known as one of the world’s most LGBT-friendly countries. As per the Philippine Daily Inquirer, a Pew Research Center survey in 2013 showed that 73% of Filipinos agreed that “homosexuality should be accepted by society.” This was reportedly comparable to the level of acceptance found in secular western Europe.
After the pageant, Taguiam shared more about her moment in an interview with Cebu Daily News:
“I’m just proud to have her. I just want to tell people that it is okay to love someone regardless of gender. I just want to be honest as possible and answer from the bottom of my heart that’s why I decided to reveal it during the interview.”
Taguiam said that her girlfriend did not attend any of her rehearsals but ensured that she got home safely.
“I realized that if she doesn’t love me, she won’t even agree to the idea. She’s someone worth loving, she has a beautiful soul,” she added.