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Pinoy films seeking to understand LGBTQIA+

by Jericho Zafra

FILIPINO filmmakers have long been representing the gay community in the mainstream media despite the public acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ community remaining far from ideal.

In 2020, Pew Research reported that 24 percent of Filipinos said they don’t accept homosexuality, while 76 percent said they believe homosexuality should be accepted in the Philippines.

While this number showed greater acceptance than refusal, the film industry has continued to produce films that are critical to the struggles of the sexual minority.

If you are looking for some Filipino gay-themed films to watch, consider these movies:

Markova: Comfort Gay (2000)

The movie centers on the life of gay man Walter Dempster Jr. (starring Dolphy), also known as Walterina Markova, who was compelled to amuse Japanese soldiers with his pals. It also tackles disregard for acceptance and sexual abuse during the second world war.

Ang Pagdadalaga Ni Maximo Oliveros (2005)

Photo Credit: Cinemalaya Foundation Inc.

The film revolves around Maxi, a young gay man on the verge of entering his teenage years who is already at ease with his homosexuality. He does not experience resistance from his family despite Maxi wearing girl’s clothing and using cosmetics. One evening, Maxi becomes a victim of assault, and Victor, a police officer, comes to his aid. Maxi developed feelings for the police officer, despite Victor only having friendly affection for the young Maxi. When Victor’s job brings him into contact with Maxi’s brothers and father, it puts pressure on their atypical connection.

Die Beautiful (2016)

Die Beautiful tells the life story of Trisha, a transgender woman who unexpectedly died at a gay pageant while she was being crowned. Her strict father wishes to bury her as a man, despite her last request to be portrayed as a different celebrity each night of her wake. The only option left for Trisha’s friends is to steal her corpse.

Kalel, 15  (2015)

The film Kalel narrates the story of a teen boy named Kalel living in a dysfunctional family following his HIV diagnosis. The film examines HIV stigma in the Philippines, Filipino adolescent sex recklessness, growing up in a disturbed household, and the hypocritical standard of morality.

Bwakaw (2012)

Mang Rene is a homosexual man in his 70s who takes care of a stray dog that he has given the name “Bwakaw.” The film tells the story of Rene’s self-discovery and how “Bwakaw” changed his perspective on living.

In My Life (2009)

Photo Credit: Star Cinema

In My Life shares the story of a mother who moved to New York to live with her gay son, only to find out he’s sick. This film navigates how the love of two men teaches a mother to move forward.



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