Dynamic, authentic, and non-exploitative, MEGA has redefined the magazine front cover where honest stories are told and freedom is found in all identities.
Historically, the pages of a glossy fashion magazine have been filled with faces and bodies of only a select few–slender, conventionally beautiful, able-bodied, and cis-gendered with headlines made to be gossip-worthy, but MEGA was founded with a different vision. Being the first and longest-running fashion publication in the Philippines, the publication has strived to not only chronicle the changing times but to break barriers and put in the forefront the stories that matter.
What difference does it make to put a queer individual on a front cover you might ask? Well firstly, being an industry that is built upon the creative minds of the LGBTQIA+ community, it is only rightfully so that we are given the equal chance to step in front of the camera. More so, somewhere in the world is a queer kid reading a fashion magazine in hopes someday he/she/they can see themselves in its pages and for some, the visuals provide comfort and safety that the person they see and read about has gone through the same journey. Enhanced LBTQIA+ visibility in media fosters a great sense of affirmation of self-worth and tells us that we are seen. And in an increasingly interconnected world, it improves the lived experiences of the community where there is no standard to live out one’s truth and we can all can lay claim to our stories. “The more we see, hear, and feel these stories, true compassionate progress and equality will be much closer to being a reality, and not just something the world romances when it is convenient to them. It is time we tell our stories the way it should be: by us and for us,” shares Angelo De Cartegena, MEGA editor who has penned many of these cover stories that honors LGBTQIA+ advocates, trailblazers, and heroes fighting the good fight in their respective corners of the world.
From Manila Luzon on the beauty of drag culture to Jake Zyrus living his truth, here we dip into the archives and picked out iconic MEGA Pride covers in hopes for the future, where queer individuals featured in the front cover of a magazine won’t be news and, instead, will be just the norm.
MEGA: Manila Luzon
“You Are Pride”
Dripping in gold fashion by local designers, the MEGA team had the honor to shoot and get to know Manila Luzon in Brooklyn, New York. An international household name that brought Filipino pride to greater heights, there was a frenzy online when it was announced that fronting the magazine was the all-star drag queen.
“Manila Luzon’s cover is a perfect portrayal of how far our conservative society has come in celebrating and supporting the queer community’s fight for equality,” MEGA Creative Director Jann Pascua says about the response received by the June 2019 cover and the importance that it still holds today. “It is not about making space for the community to be given a platform, but rather it’s by allowing us to take up space in platforms like MEGA that allows our voices, our stories, our lives be represented.”
Embodying drama and opulence while exploring her Filipino heritage, Manila Luzon proves that there will always be pride in living one’s true identity.
MEGAMan: Jake Zyrus
When you partner a powerful platform and a voice that one cannot ignore, MEGA alongside Jake Zyrus made a statement that made the nation listen. In July 2016, for the first time in MEGA Man history, the international singer became the first transman to cover the magazine.
At the height of his success with a brand-new sound, Zyrus appeared on the front cover confident, self-assured, and proud to be living a life according to his own terms. “Just be yourself. ‘Yan ang pinakamahirap gawin,” he said when asked about his journey.
Change is inevitable, and as Zyrus has successfully shown, it is worthy to celebrate and embrace.
MEGAStyle: Patrick Starr
Amidst the vast beauty Youtuber community, there is one that has remained true to his core and continues to redefine beauty and that is none other than, Patrick Starr.
With the launch of his makeup line ONE/SIZE, MEGAStyle took the opportunity to not only celebrate his brand but to also tell the story of the new path that the Filipino creative is on. “Actually, the Patrick Starrr cover on Megastyle, for example, was initially supposed to just be an exclusive feature on the digital superstar’s beauty brand launch, but then a light bulb moment: Why not expand it? Not only was there a story to tell, but most importantly, we could show readers that our truth deserves to be represented front and center on the cover. No longer just a footnote, a by-the-way, or gratuitous pandering, this is our way of claiming and making spaces for more light to come in,” says Cartagena. “Yeah, that was a proud moment, but it doesn’t stop there. We should be taking pride in our queer stories and visuals now more than ever.”
Stripped back during his interview or full glam as seen on his November 2020 cover, Patrick Starr reminds us that with the power of makeup we can color in the world a little more. And even with his Juiciest Makeup Removing Wipes as a first step to remove the stigmas that hold us back from fostering an inclusive community.