Binibining Pilipinas posted Friday a photo of its reigning queen, Hannah Arnold, with the caption "Naturaaaaaal woman" and swiftly took it down after fans saw it as shade against the newly-crowned Miss Universe-Philippines, Beatrice Luigi Gomez, the first member of the LGBTQIA+ community to hold the title.
There was no immediate explanation from Binibining Pilipinas as of early Saturday. Screen captures of the post showed a close-up photo of Arnold wearing her crown and a grey gown. It was the same picture that was posted on the Miss International page, where she was set to compete later this year, until it was canceled.
What remained on the Binibining Pilipinas Facebook was a photo of Arnold wearing an official pink hoodie and in the comments, fans demanded an explanation for the caption, which they described as "homophobic" and "disgusting".
MORE LGBTQIA+ EXPLAINED
Binibining Pilipinas selected the Philippines' representative to Miss Universe until 2020, when the franchise was given to a group led by 2011 Binibining Pilipinas-Universe Shamcey Supsup and beauty queen maker Jonas Gaffud. Gomez, the second Miss Universe-Philippines queen under the new team, was crowned Thursday night.
While she was open about her sexuality, that was not the centerpiece of Gomez's Miss Universe-Philippines campaign. In the preliminary interviews, she talked about the importance of grit and mental preparedness and journaling to get through lockdowns.
In an exclusive interview with Preview before the finals, Gomez said a beauty queen's number one job is to be an ambassador of the things she believes in.
“As a representative of the LGBTQIA+ community, the goal here is for people to see us, to notice us, and [to] know that we have a lot to offer to our communities. At the end of the day, I just want everyone [to be] accepting of who we are and what we can do.”
Did Binibining Pilipinas shade the new queen from the rival pageant? From the long "a" sound in the caption, the internet saw it as the chorus to Aretha Franklin's soul classic "Natural Woman."
Miss Universe, which is holding its 70th edition in Eliat, Israel in December, has taken steps to be more inclusive.
In 2018, Spain's Angela Ponce became the first transgender woman to compete at Miss Universe. That edition was won by the Philippines' Catriona Gray. While Ponce failed to make the semifinals cut, the crowd in Bangkok, Thailand gave her a standing ovation as she was allowed to walk on stage solo to soak in her moment in history.
In the U.S., Filipina-American transwoman Kataluna Enriquez was crowned Miss Nevada, earning her the chance to compete at Miss USA.
Should Enriquez win Miss USA, together with Gomez, two Filipina LGBTQIA+ members will compete for the Miss Universe crown.