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Lifestyle
PRIDE 2020

Filipino personalities recall when they finally saw queer characters they can relate to onscreen


Netflix is celebrating Pride month by shining the spotlight on Filipino personalities as they open up about inclusivity and diversity for the Filipino LGBTQ+ community in film and television.

In a video titled "When I Saw Me," celebrity photographer BJ Pascual, filmmaker Samantha Lee, content creator Issa Pressman, creator and beauty queen Kevin Balot, filmmaker Fifth Solomon, and emcee Marga Bermudez talk about the first time they saw a character they can relate to on screen.

 

BJ Pascual

BJ said he identified himself as gay when he was in fourth grade.

"I did not know if there was a life to being gay aside from the ones I would usually see on TV," he said.

So the first time he saw "Love, Simon," he was finally able to relate. He even came out the same way the character came out in the movie.

"Seeing yourself on the big screen, finally represented, it just really poured down on me, I started crying," he said.

Samantha Lee

Sam said that growing up, she used to only see the effeminate "bakla" and the masculine "tomboy" on TV.

"My image of myself and the images that I saw on screen didn't align. If I wasn't those things that I saw on TV, how could I be gay?" the filmmaker asked.

She said when she saw Ellie Chu from Netflix movie "The Half Of It," she was reminded of herself in high school.

"She’s really young, she’s in high school, she’s super dorky and into good music and books, which reminds me of who I was in high school," she said.

Issa Pressman

Issa shared that she never wanted to hide who she was, but recalled that people discouraged her from coming out.

"I remember a bunch of people telling me that if you come out on social media, you are going to lose your job," the content creator said.

Now, Issa is out and proud, and she loves the series titled "Pose."

"I love how everywhere you go, whenever there’s dance parties, you would hear, 'The category is…' and then everyone celebrates. It’s so good how a famous line from Pose became something to cue people that it’s time to celebrate or have fun," she said.

Kevin Balot

It wasn't easy for Kevin to be trans and automatically be presumed to have no future.

"Ang alam nila bakla ka lang. Sa pagka-alam nila bakla ka, salot ka. Wala kang future, wala kang mararating in life. 'Yun ang laging naalala ko na sinasabi sakin ng parents ko," he said.

The beauty queen and content creator said when "Pose" was released in the community, she and the rest of the trans community were able to relate to the characters.

"Akala namin na 'yung life namin hindi normal. So nung lumabas yung pose parang, 'Ako 'yun ah!'," she recalled.

Marga Bermudez

Marga said that growing up, it felt like being attracted to the same gender was "a joke."

"In some movies you see some punch lines becoming like 'Oh, 'cause you're gay'," she said.

She was able to identify with Tokyo and Nairobi from "Money Heist."

"I always felt like being an emcee in the Philippines, being in that male-dominated industry, people would say, 'Isn’t it hard doing that job surrounded by guys?' It only made me feel like I am able to do things guys can do, and with Tokyo and Nairobi, I could be a woman, I could be cool, I could do things guys can do and maybe even be better," she said.

Fifth Solomon

Fifth said a friend once told him that she wouldn't let her children watch shows with gay characters for fear of her children turning out queer as well.

"I told her na I grew up seeing 99 percent of content sa television or movies with straight characters, pero I did not grow up as a straight man," he said.

The filmmaker had long ago decided to embrace who he is and tell the world that he is a gay man.

He said he was able to relate with Ruby Rose from "AJ and The Queen," played by RuPaul.

“She plays different characters, different personas. Sometimes, she’s a man. Sometimes, she’s a drag queen. And in a way, I can relate with that," he said.

—JCB, GMA News

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