Our Pride And Joy: A Celebration Of LGBTQIA+ In Beauty

Beauty writer Firas Abboud pens his musings on the LGBTQIA+ community in beauty, and the many ways it has raised—and proudly waved—the Pride flag.
Reading Time: 5 minutes

When I started wearing makeup back in 2011, LGBTQIA+ representation in beauty wasn’t even a concept—to me, at least. Looking back, I wasn’t even consciously aware that when I would watch beauty videos on YouTube, they would be mostly of women. If I had to specify someone from the LGBTQIA+ community at the time, I can only ever think of two: Gigi Gorgeous and EnKoreMakeup. However, it wasn’t as if I saw them both as “representations” of LGBTQIA+ in beauty. I saw them as people who love—and enjoy—beauty just as I do. 

Now that it’s 2024, the beauty landscape has changed so much. We have so many platforms to express our love of beauty through. We have so many brands that offer us options in terms of product categories and formulas. We have more and more people creating content that widens our perspective on beauty—including the call for representation, particularly LGBTQIA+ representation.  

It makes me happy to see how diverse the beauty community is. I’m sure it has already been for years but thanks to social media, we get to see it in person and on our screens more than ever. 

Shifting the conversation now, seeing such diversity does lead to certain conversations—are beauty brands aligned with the community in terms of diversity? Do we see LGBTQIA+ representation in the beauty brands we love? More specifically, how do beauty brands show their love for the community? 

BEAUTY FOR ALL. A beauty creator and writer, Firas Abboud looks back at how far the industry has come in LGBTQIA+ representation and inclusivity in beauty.

Celebrate By Giving Back 

I can’t help but start with M.A.C. Supporting gender, sexual, racial, and environmental equality, M.A.C’s VIVA GLAM campaign has raised US$520 million globally since its inception in 1994. This is because the campaign donates 100 percent of the selling price of VIVA GLAM lipsticks to this initiative! Also, RuPaul just happens to be the first person who fronted the campaign—a move that’s way ahead of its time!  

Did you know that 40 percent of homeless youth in New York City are part of the LGBTQIA+ community? Kiehl’s Open Doors helps lessen that percentage, being partners with the Ali Forner Center to continuously provide safe, temporary housing and developmental resources and tools. 

Another brand I think of is Avon, which recently held the country’s first-ever all-queer underwear fashion last 2023. The Philippines is one of the largest Catholic countries in the world, so putting on such a fashion show was a bold, historic event. As someone who was exposed to the brand early on, it’s so empowering to see how Avon continues to make an impact. 

A recent event I attended was with Benefit Cosmetics, which held a fun celebration of Pride through fun activities, Drag Bingo, and performances. You know, there wasn’t even a product launch that night. It was really just an event to celebrate the community and wave the Pride flag. I can’t wait for what they’ll do next year! 

MADE UP HIS MIND. There was a time when seeing gay men in ads was unthinkable. To see a gay man wearing makeup on the daily, as women do, wasn’t the norm. For Abboud, it wasn’t always easy for him to express himself through beauty—but that has changed now.

Support By Exploring Brands 

Beauty brands owned or led by members of the community definitely deserve recognition for taking up space. I do, however, give extra credit to those who pay it forward by creating space for other members of the community by way of the models and personalities they include in their campaigns, the workforce they hire to power their teams, and everything in between. It’s so thrilling to know that the LGBTQIA+ community takes up various roles in beauty brands. I can only imagine how extra fun, creative, and open the brainstorming and product development sessions are! 

It’s also wonderful to see homegrown brands such as Issy, GRWM Cosmetics, and Colourette translate words of representation into actions through their campaigns. May I also take this moment to highlight Vice Cosmetics, whose shade and product names celebrate the Filipino gay lingo? Finally, I want to mention the local brand Fresh Philippines which recently launched a collection in collaboration with a pride and joy of beauty world, Teree Daisuke. 

Represent By Being Yourself 

You know, sometimes, I couldn’t help but wonder about the bigger picture of inclusivity and representation. Is being inclusive for the sake of inclusivity a good thing? When can we say that we are truly represented? Personally, I want to live in a world where we do not even have to talk about these concepts anymore. I want to live in a world where inclusivity and representation are norms, not goals.

Writing this made me realize that it’s been 13 years since I bought my very first makeup product—the Nichido Foundation Stick. Writing this took me back to my first MAC lipstick, the Candy Yum-Yum; and my first beauty workshop, which was a NARS masterclass with Jonathan Wu. Writing this made me think of my very first face-to-face beauty event, which was Deoproce—thinking about it feels like it was just yesterday. 

A SEAT AT THE TABLE. It’s amazing how brands have supported and empowered members of the LGBTQIA+ community in more ways than one, be it by including creators, such as Abboud, in campaigns or consistently sharing their latest releases with them.
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My personal journey with beauty has changed, is changing, and will change—what products I gravitate towards, what textures or finishes I prefer, and even what makeup look I sport. However, one thing will remain the same: my love for it. Loving beauty and being proud of it is my way of representing myself, which I believe is the kind of representation that matters the most.

And as for being inclusive, well, I’m forever grateful that I get a seat at the beauty table—and it’s a seat I plan to take care of for as long as I can.  

Collage by Dannah Valdezco. Decorative magazine clipping by © Paper Whistle. Rainbow ripped paper by © Valeriia Miller. Pen in hand by © Evgeniy Skripnichenko. French writing on paper by © deeAuvil via canva.com

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