I count myself lucky because I got to experience what it feels like to be in a room full of people filled with nothing but love and acceptance. I’m talking about a gathering hosted by Closeup for its #freetolove campaign, which aims to promote and open the conversation on what society deems as “unconventional” relationships. It recognizes the fact that love is a universal instinct—but sadly, not a universal right. In a study cited by the campaign, it was revealed that 53 percent of youth are afraid of discrimination, judgement, or public shame. And although three in four youths interviewed admitted to pursuing unconventional relationships, half of them decide to keep it a secret for fear of family or peer disapproval. To fight this, the campaign invited couples who embody what it means to love freely; those who chose to overcome society’s judgement to be with the person they love. Among them is vlogger Issa Pressman and MC Marga Bermudez. I caught up with them during the event to talk about the campaign’s significance, how to deal with detractors, and why love—of all kinds—is worth fighting for.
How does it feel to be a part of this campaign?
Issa Pressman: A lot of things. It’s overwhelming [and] exciting. Challenging also, because it’s not the usual topic that you see in public, but then it’s also something that needs to get out there. It has to be talked about so that we can actually solve it [because] for some people, it is a problem. For those people, we just want to be an inspiration [and show them] that what they’re doing is right; what they’re doing can inspire others also ‘cause some people talaga, they struggle. So it’s a very good feeling to be a part of this.
For people who struggle and experience discrimination, what’s the best way for them to deal with bashers and detractors?
Marga Bermudez: You know, bashers and haters are always there. You can never escape them. But just like how Issa and I would always say, we revolve our relationship around positive people. If you surround yourself with positive people, then positive things will come about naturally. And [it helps] if you feel like you’re surrounded by people that will help you be more open to coming out for different types of relationships. You know, you always need that support group. You need people to fight [with you] because you can never fight alone. No one can ever fight alone.
What is your message to those people who are fighting for equality, especially here in our country?
IP: Keep fighting. I mean, you’re not gonna lose anything. If ever there’s negativity, or negative comments out there, they’re always gonna be there, even if you don’t come out. Even if you post like [the most] perfect photo on Instagram, you’re still gonna get something negative—and that comes with life. But then if you actually fight for something and then you succeed, and you get to inspire others, then that becomes something greater.
MB: And as long as you and your partner have a common goal [then you can keep on fighting.] And it’s not just to make yourself feel better. For example, Issa and I, after and during this campaign and everything, we’ve been getting so much positive feedback, and that means other people saw this and they liked it, and [it made them] feel like, “Sh*t, I wanna be this too; I wanna get there too.” So if they start to be that and feel that kind of vibe, then they will inspire other people to feel that same way too. Domino effect, you know?
Watch the video below to know more about Issa and Marga’s story:
Art by Marian Hukom
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