Gay pride and prejudice
LODESTAR - Danton Remoto (The Philippine Star) - July 11, 2020 - 12:00am

The month just past was Pride Month for the members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex plus communities. We have chalked up several achievements and let me cite some of them.

My friend from Cebu, Jude Daniel Mendoza, also known as “Judai Gwapa As In” bested other nominees to win the award for the Non-Uniformed Personnel of the Year (supervisory level) by the national headquarters of the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory in Camp Crame, Quezon City. The occasion was held on the 72nd anniversary last June 22. She is one of the best medical technologists at the PNP, and as this award implies, the best of the best for the year.

Likewise, she also won the award when she was not yet a supervisor at the PNP Crime Laboratory in Cebu City. This was on May 21, 2007. The awardee is a proud member of Ladlad, the national organization of LGBTQ Filipinos, and a member of the transgender community in Cebu. We are proud of Judai, who works with integrity and efficiency at the PNP, showing that we can perform well even in places traditionally associated with machismo.

Another source of pride is the blooming of Boys’ Love (BL) fan bases in the Philippines. I have written about this two months ago, in a review of the Thai global mega-hit, the TV gay romance “2Gether.” The charming couple of Bright and Win just had a worldwide meet-and-greet online a fortnight ago. One billion tweet messages were sent, and millions paid money (P1500 for the Philippines) to join this event.

Not slack to sniff where the winds blow, our Filipino producers have also made two worthy BL now uploaded in YouTube. “Hello, Stranger” by ABS-CBN and “Gameboy: The Series” by Idea First Productions show teenagers caught up in the pandemic. The first stars Tony Labrusca and JC Concepcion, with Petersen Vargas as director. This show follows the traditional Thai casting of one partner being melancholy and brooding (Tony, in an excellent turn), and the other bright and chirpy (JC, in a sensitive portrayal). There is chemistry between the two, the show is brisk and breezy. They also used the brilliant poem of Benilda Santos of Ateneo as the peg for this show. You should look as the views rocket to the sky the moment a new episode is uploaded in YouTube.

On the other hand, Kokoy de Santos and Elijah Canlas share the marquee in “Gameboys: The Series,” directed by Ivan Andrew Payawal. Their pairing and storyline also hew closely to the Thai template of brooding-meets-bright. They also follow the narrative arc where two boys who dislike each other fall inevitably for each other. There is fizz and energy here, and audience empathy in scenes where they shop at the supermarket during the pandemic, or just talk to each other, hollowing out spaces in each other’s hearts.

Both directors Vargas and Payawal do very well, indeed, at directing these shows, intercutting the kinetic house-bound scenes with still shots of life outside. “Hello Stranger” even has a short but sharp dig at “all the things uncomfortable happening outside us.” The dialogues flow from the teenagers’ tongues the way they should be: fast, dynamic, with-it.

I saw another Pinoy BL but was bogged down by its detour to “religion” and “the morality tale.” That is outside the pale of BL, my dear. And I know of several directors who are now making similar BL shows. But one of them has caught the ire of the LGBTQ community. One of its unknown actors was shown in social media making statements that showed ignorance of the BL mode. Hoy, hijo, you should know where your bread is buttered.

Tom Rodriguez shot to fame and Dennis Trillo bolstered a flagging career in 2013 when they both starred in the gay romance, “My Husband’s Lover.” I was with both of them in a talk show afterward, and they talked freely about the issues of the LGBTQ community, for whom they expressed support. So these newbies better learn the issues associated with our advocacy, to wit: (1) no discrimination in the schools, offices, public spaces; (2) no discrimination in the provision of public services and opening of new businesses; (3) marriage equality which does NOT mean a church or religion-related wedding, but domestic partnership between two people who belong to the same gender, in love and willing to create their own families.

Lastly, Ladlad Party-list, which CNN has called “the only gay political party in the world,” has launched a fund-raising campaign for our Golden Gays. These are our old members who have been abandoned by their families to fend for themselves. We have such members in Pasay City, Manila, and Paranaque, as well as in Olongapo and Zambales. We are raising funds to provide them with food, masks, hand sanitizers, and canned goods. Donations in these items and in cash can be sent to me at this email address: danton.lodestar@gmail.com Our Ladlad officer, Dexter Macaldo, can also be reached at cellphone: 0917-6111556. G-cash donations can also be sent to this number.

We have received donations from Rock Ed Philippines, through the tireless and beautiful Gang Badoy Capati, as well as friends from far and wide. We have delivered the items to the Golden Gays in Pasay and Paranaque, as well as those in Baseco, Tondo, Manila. Today, we are delivering provisions to the Golden Gays in Olongapo and Zambales. We are also giving them things they need for their small beauty parlor businesses as well as train them in mask-making and soap-making. One group at UP Diliman will train them in leathercraft online. I  told the UP students that I will help with the marketing and distribution of the finished leather goods, so our Golden Gays can have additional sources of livelihood in the twilight of their lives. I will help you reach the star of your dreams.

Danton Remoto’s novel, “Riverrun,” will be published by Penguin Books this month. His website is www.dantonremoto.com, and his email is danton.lodestar@gmail.comH

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