Culture, Featured

From Struggle to Strength: What it Means for Rine Arceo and Divine Maitland-Smith to Walk with Pride 

For this year’s celebration of uplifting the voices of the LGBTQIA+ community this Pride Month, this lovely pair of Cebuano creatives’ contribution and significant influence remain inspirational in advocating for increased visibility amongst today’s queer youth. For Rine Arceo and her partner, Divine Maitland-Smith, identity-making is a constant subject to one’s self and to society when you’re part of the community.

In an environment that heavily relies on your soul to be open-hearted in both the crest and trough of assimilating with your peers and standing out, where does one place oneself? 

For Rine, she emphasizes how her taking up space in the Cebuano creative playground as a queer woman became monumental for her growth and for her art. She is a painter who loves to experiment and express herself through her canvas; being able to convey her innermost self in the art she creates takes a lot of pride and passion. “I get to infuse my unique perspective into my work, and it’s fulfilling to know that I’m contributing to a more inclusive and vibrant cultural landscape,” Rine posits. 

In retrospect, Divine takes on a more communal approach in cultivating recognition of self through the other. Being a successful entrepreneur whose central focus is infusing love with the acknowledgment that there’s always more room for improvement, Divine raises her flag chin up, “I’m proud to be part of this vibrant and expanding creative community. May it continue to grow and thrive!”

More than ever, pride bolsters itself as a movement where belongingness and acceptance are the crux of its genesis. Having this reputable couple as a form of inspiration as they share their love for each other and the environment they’ve cultivated does not simply announce bravery– but an establishment of candid honesty in the family of everything.

The Cebuano queer space has transcended animosity and rejection as its deus ex machina. Dare I say, it’s a more prevailing crowd where meaningful events, music, writing, and art in this day and age, contain a thread of the LGBTQIA+ community’s authenticity interwoven into the fabric that connects us with each other’s stories. Hence, Rine and Divine advocate for more platforms that celebrate the achievements and talents of these budding creatives at the forefront of pride.

“We can shift the narrative from struggle to strength. I hope to see more inclusive events, educational initiatives, and policies that support and uplift our community,” Rine declares. As much as Cebu has seen impressive progress, recognition through legal infrastructures in society will further nurture our plea for human rights. Divine adds,” [I advocate] the determination to work hard and make it a reality. The freedom to simply be.”

The queer youth of Cebu is felt in every cornerstone and continues to be the soul of this city’s pulsing heart. Rine Arceo and Divine Maitland-Smith see this common denominator within themselves which makes them stand out. Knowing that every member of the LGBTQIA+ has felt the exact same way as they do makes them form a community. As we all battle demons with the same faces in this journey of self-exploration, from walking on eggshells to strutting in heels–one thing we all share too is the pride to be unapologetically who we are. 

Photography Saffron Story Company | HMUA Shun Romarate | Location The Helix

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