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“They deserve love, to love, and be loved.”

by Maryrose Villena, ACC News Correspondent

    Dieth Aquino de Leon
Bahaghari founder, Dieth Aquino de Leon

To jumpstart pride month this June, Bahaghari Pride Manitoba Inc. organized a photoshoot called “Sama-Sama” a Bahaghari Portrait series last May 24th at the Forks Market. All members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community in Manitoba were invited to get their portraits taken solo, with partners, or friends to celebrate and help embrace their identity.

Bahaghari is non-profit and was just newly established last February. Founder, Dieth Aquino de Leon wanted this event to become a safe space for his fellow Filipinos who are part of the community. Fellow local queer photographer Ally Gonzalo – known for his work of Bakla! for CBC – teamed up with Dieth for this whole-day portrait session as a way for their fellow Bahaghari members to eliminate the shame, highlight who they are, and show that they belong.

In Manitoba there is a considerable number of Filipinos who identify and are part of the 2SLGBTQIA+ spectrum according to Dieth. He fought to be able to have this organization and built it from the ground by speaking to various council members to have proper support. Furthermore, it is only in North America that 2S (two-spirited) is included in the spectrum. An indigenous term for Native Americans wherein both genders (male and female) are embodied in one individual as spiritual identity.

In the heart of this event, Dieth Aquino saw the fruits of his hard work in establishing Bahaghari starting to bloom. People, mostly Filipino, and diverse personalities came to get their photos done. There were families, partners, even cisgenders and allies who came to support their friends during the session. Ally also made sure to make them feel comfortable in their skin by thoroughly directing them the whole time. The shoot enabled them to have a stronger grasp of their identity.

“We need to represent, and have every letter represented.” according to Chloe, a fellow member of the community said. For there has been so much war going on that violence to be heard and to be seen is over– it is time for them to be celebrated.

For they deserve love, to love, and be loved.

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