Moms and Dads

I Grew Up With A Gay Dad and I Couldn’t Be Prouder

Annie Aniel was raised by her dad, pole dance pioneer Ed Aniel, who taught her the importance of living her truth and being herself

Annie Aniel was in the 6th grade when she realised her dad, Ed Aniel wasn’t like everyone else’s. Sure, he looked different from all the other dads who’d pick up her classmates from school. He was a great dancer and would dress her up in custom-made outfits, but it never occurred to her that he was gay.

“It all made sense…he had this guy friend who’d visit us frequently, and one day, it just clicked that they were more than friends,” Annie says. ”His younger brother would joke about it a lot, but it wasn’t something we discussed. It was a taboo subject in our family.”

Growing up with a gay dad

Annie never came from a traditional family set-up — she was raised by her grandparents, dad and uncle. When she was just a year old, her parents separated. Her mom remarried and had her own family, while Annie was left with the Aniels. Her dad was the breadwinner of the family, and she was the princess who got everything she wanted. “My dad wasn’t always gay,” says Annie. “When he met my mom, he was actually bisexual. She kept calling him, and it all started from there.” 

While he’s known for introducing pole dancing to the Philippines, Ed Aniel has always been a dancer and designer. He trained jazz with the famed Hotlegs dance troupe and the Metropolitan Dance Theatre at 18 years old. He was encouraged by his instructors to study ballet at CCP Dance School, and eventually, he joined the Adrenaline Dance Group. When she was younger, Ed and Annie would have precious Sunday dates, where they’d watch movies and she’d get to eat her favorite food. “I loved those days because it was just the two of us,” she shares. “He’d always dress me up in custom-made outfits, and even if I was really shy, I enjoyed it a lot.” 

It was never a surprise

Her father being gay didn’t come as a surprise to Annie, she knew that there was something about her dad, that made him different from all the others. “As a kid, I kept analyzing my dad’s weirdness. There were some instances where I felt ashamed about it, but luckily, I was never bullied about it.” she says. But she loved the fact that he was different. As a child, Ed would take Annie to costume parties, where she said she’d had the best time of her life. “I remember having so much fun, everyone was going all-out!”

It wasn’t the easiest life, but Annie shares that Ed tried his best to fill it with rainbows. They danced together, he taught her how to draw and appreciate art. To this day, Annie considers him one of her biggest inspirations; apart from being a project manager for a solar company, she also teaches yoga, pole dancing and does reiki healing on the side. 

What it feels like to have a dad who’s also your best friend

She loves their relationship and how they can talk about almost anything. “We have the same personalities: we’re both outgoing, animated, and funny,” Annie says. While she’s in her 30’s now, she says that she and her dad still love to party together, and consider each other their favorite travel buddies. But most importantly, she thinks of him her biggest ally: “I love that my dad is so supportive of all the things I want to pursue in life. He never judges me, just encourages me to be the best version of myself”.

We can’t doubt Annie’s immense pride for her dad, and her strong allegiance to the LGBTQIA+ community. Thanks to her dad —her best friend—she carries the rainbow flag on her heart and on her sleeve, and lives a happy, fabulous life. Her advice for kids who’s parents have come out? “Embrace who they are, their sexuality doesn’t change the fact that they’re your parents. They love you and will protect and provide for you. Be happy that they are living in today’s modern, accepting world, where they’re able to love and be who they want.”

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