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Resham Ramirez Saeed: A remarkable LGBT ally



This brave and beautiful Binibini flew under the radar before the finals night. She hardly figured in any pageant watcher’s forecasts. She destroyed every predictions list released before the Binibining Pilipinas Grand Coronation Night on 9 June at the Smart Araneta Coliseum when she ran away with one of the major crowns.

That host-model Resham Ramirez Saeed, 25, is articulate was already known in her interview video when she extolled “the strengths she holds as a woman.”

“Aside from winning the crown, what I’m looking forward to the most is being able to pass on the values that my parents instilled in me,” she declared. “Knowing that I’m a strong, fierce, independent woman, I just want to give that back; not only to young girls but to women, that they could see that they are enough brave, beautiful.”

That she is a woman of conviction was already evident during the national costume competition. As a Muslim representing Maguindanao, Resham consciously chose to wear an Inaul “peace of art” by Ryan June Castillo, an ensemble “infused with gold for royalty, and the colors of the rainbow to represent the LGBTQ community.”

The audience at the New Frontier Theater, composed mostly of gay fans, barely noticed her gesture of solidarity and continued to scream for their preferred candidates. No love for this ally. Yet.

Still, Resham was steadfast in her beliefs and was grateful for the opportunity to make her stand known. What’s more, her performance was adjudged as one of the Ten Best. The day after the national costume competition, she wrote on her Instagram:

“Yesterday I had the humbling opportunity to walk down the stage as the iconic ‘Muslim-Filipino Queen.’ I wore my pride on my sleeve and it all paid off. This moment is something I’ll always think back on and I know it will always light me up. Lately I’ve been asking myself what 12-year-old Resham would think of where I am today… And I’m almost always moved to tears, because how often does one have the privilege to casually say ‘Yeah, I’m doing everything I ever wanted to. To represent who I truly am, and to create change in any form or manner. And to live it. But to say I did it all on my own is delusional. So, I wanted to take this moment to thank each and everyone of you who’s been a part of this journey with me.
Even in the smallest way. Whether it was by sending me a random funny meme, an uplifting compliment on one of my many stories or simply checked up on me or to tell me you’re proud of what I’ve been doing (you all know who you are). Every little act has bought me to this very moment. Here, typing my heart out because I’m so overwhelmingly joyous and grateful.”

In the middle of the competition, the half-Pakistani, Canada-raised Filipina posted a photo of herself at the Sheik Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates:

“Today we feast, today we Celebrate! EID MUBARAK to all my Muslim and non-Muslim brothers and sisters. Let’s rejoice today to be grateful for all the things that have gone right, even when we once thought they weren’t. Let’s forgive, let’s pray, let’s look forward to all that the universe has to offer. Growing up, I used to lose sleep over Eid, I would stay up all night with excitement. How I wish I was with my entire family today, enjoying a delicious home cooked meal. It’s those little things that I’m grateful for, it’s those countless family dinner talks that has kept me grounded, and it is the unwavering love and support of my family that makes me whole. If you are blessed to be spending Eid with your loved ones… Give them all a big hug and tell them you love them and please cherish every moment. To my family: I don’t have words to describe this feeling because it’s beyond love. You guys are the reason I stay strong, the reason I feel I belong. I miss you so, so much it aches to say it out loud. I want nothing more than to have dinner at home, with my family.”

Wider platform

When she was announced as Binibining Pilipinas Supranational, Resham knew she has a wider platform for her advocacies, as she posted her feelings the morning after her triumph:
“Yesterday blew me away. It challenged everything I believed and expected. Sorry about the delayed post but to truly express my gratitude, I had to sit down and let last night’s victory sink in. The responsibility bestowed upon me to represent my people on an international level is a feeling I can’t describe. All I have to say at this time is that I’m extremely grateful and humbled and that this responsibility isn’t one I’ll take lightly. I am proud to be one of the first Muslim Pinoys to Raise our Flag! Maraming salamat and thank you to each and everyone of you who played a part in my success. This is all for you.”

Resham was the first in this year’s batch to unabashedly support the LGBT community with her national costume. But as June Pride Month rolled in, her Binibini sisters were out in full force to support the cause. They proudly showed their love at the Araneta Center’s “PRIDEstrian” Walk.

“We walked with pride on our sleeves. We rejoiced in celebrating how far we have come as Pinoys, as individuals and as a community. Equality is a right and I’m here for it. For decades the LGBTQ community has been oppressed and have dealt with violence and injustice for simply choosing to express their authenticity, for choosing to love openly and for being brave enough to demand equality. Pride Month is here to express and educate us on the disease that is Homophobia. Tolerance is no longer appreciated, Acceptance is the new love language. May we all speak it,” Resham wrote.

Her support didn’t end there. Together with Binibining Pilipinas International Bea Patricia Magtanong, Resham braved the rains and trooped to the Marikina Sports Center on 29 June to join the Metro Manila Pride March:

“WHAT A DAY !! My first Pride in Manila was a success! Thank you @sparkphilippines for inviting me on this march for love and equality. I gleamed with joy as I witnessed the amount of support and the amazing outcome of this year’s event. It doubled (if not more) in attendance compared to last year!!! It rained and poured all day but it didn’t stop any of us from dancing and rejoicing on the streets. Today we stood as one, stronger together for a better tomorrow. ps: just cause we’re technically closing in on Pride month, doesn’t mean we can’t continue to show love and support for our LGBTQIA+ community. Come watch the ‘Stop Kiss’ play with me. A story about two women who fall in love.”

Resham is also passionate about supporting the struggles in Sudan with her #sudanuprising #sudanrevolution #prayforsudan posts: “We can create change in small ways and in that small but significant way…. we can CHOOSE to care. No I’m not Sudanese, I’m Human, you are too, so are they. We are one.”

As she prepares to compete for our second Miss Supranational crown after Mutya Johanna Datul’s in 2013, Resham can confidently bask in the love that the LGBT community is reciprocating for her. She is assured of massive support, as only Pinoy fans can give, and her message is loud and clear:

“Love should always win. That no matter our differences, choices and beliefs, diversity is something that needs to be celebrated and welcomed with open arms. And, lastly, that at the end of the day we all seek happiness, we all seek love, so who are we to judge or deny others of that right. Let’s not simply practice tolerance, let’s practice acceptance, let’s practice equality.”

Photos from Binbining Pilipinas Facebook page and IG/@raebaaee