Michelle Dee, who recently revealed she's bisexual, highlighted the need to respect one's "situation and timeline" when coming out.
The newly crowned Miss Universe Philippines talked about her own story in an interview published by Vogue Philippines on Tuesday, May 30, sharing her reason why she opted to come out as part of the LGBTQ+ community after the competition.
For Michelle, it just "didn’t feel right" when she was advised to reveal how she truly identifies herself before the tilt as some might see it as a move "for clout."
"I just felt like it wasn’t the right time, or it wasn’t the right moment. To just use it for marketing, clout, or attention, it didn’t feel right," she said.
The 28-year-old beauty queen added that she thought doing so at the time could overshadow her advocacy for autism awareness. “I just felt like it wasn’t something that I needed to do to help my journey."
"I joined the pageant on a mission to advocate for the things that are really important to me, like autism awareness, autism acceptance, inclusivity. That was my mission,” she explained.
"But to come out at that time, I felt, would have distracted my main mission because there’s so much about myself that I can show to the universe and not use my sexuality just to define me," she said.
The beauty queen went on to highlight how she wanted to do it based on her own terms, stressing the importance of respecting the time that an LGBTQ+ member needs before coming out.
"If anything, I’ve always wanted it to come out organically or on my own terms because that’s how anyone in the LGBTQIA+ community should be allowed to do,” she told the local magazine. “They should have the right to determine when they feel like they’re ready."
Before coming out to the public, Michelle's old photos resurfaced online, where she can be seen rocking boyish outfits and a "rugged appearance." While it was spread with "malicious intent," the Filipina beauty turned it into an "empowering move."
"There are some photos that resurfaced from my past. It was spread with malicious intent, to kind of distract me, to invalidate my win. Little do they know, it was actually a more empowering move."
"What I’d like to show people is that when you’re put in a situation where somebody’s taking away your voice, you can always switch the narrative around and use it to empower you," she said.
"It’s not something I’m ashamed of. So, this is me actually taking control over my narrative, over the story, and not letting all of these naysayers have the right to control that. This is my story. It’s for anyone that can relate to it," added Michelle.
As a loud and proud ally of those in the queer spectrum, she clarified that she came out not to defend herself then, but to empower the LGBTQ+ community as a whole. “I’ve always been a very vocal ally, but I’m now officially part of it. It’s confirmation, not a revelation.”
The local star came out as bisexual in her interview with Mega Magazine, which was published on Monday, May 29. “I’ve identified with that for as long as I can remember. I’m attracted to all forms of beauty, all shapes and sizes,” she said, adding that it's an “open secret” among her friends and family.
Michelle was announced as Miss Universe Philippines 2023 during the May 13 coronation night at Pasay's Mall of Asia Arena. She's set to represent the country at the 72nd Miss Universe pageant, which will be held in El Salvador this year.