LGBT representation in PH media 'improving'

More than ever before, queer people have a media presence. We now see lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender (LGBT) on television and in mainstream films. However, many challenges still remain.

While representation in entertainment media is gradually improving, progress is sometimes sluggish.


"For me sa TV medyo kulang pa talaga pero unti-unti nagpo-progress naman. Sa social media medyo marami na rin naman (For me, representation in television is still lacking but it's slowly making progress)," Nick Escalderon, a trans advocate, said during a virtual forum hosted by Queer Safe Spaces.

"Kaya ngayon mas marami nang nafi-feed na knowledge, unlike before. Nandyan na yung mga advocate (So now more knowledge are being fed, unlike before. Advocates are openly coming out)," Escalderon, also a member of Pioneer Filipino Transgender Men, the first transmen-led organization in the country, added.

Gender rights advocate Roanne Carreon said seeing queer characters on screen normalizes the existence of queerness.

"Meron na talagang progress unlike nung kabataan ko, nung high school, wala talaga nilu-look up na queer role models (There has been progress, unlike when I was young, when I was in high school I had no queer role models to look up to)," Carreon explained.

"Nakaka-happy na ang daming couples na nagv-vlog, kagaya ng Queer Safe Spaces. Nasa era na tayo na kumbaga ang dali ng impormasyon (I'm happy that there are so many LGBT couples who are vlogging and there are organizations such as Queer Safe Spaces. We're in an era where it's so easy to get the right information)," Nariese Giangan, co-owner of Food For the Gays (FFTG) Cafe, added.

READ MORE: Creating safe spaces for LGBT youth

Harmful stereotypes

However, there are still films or shows that seem to box queerness in specific images. Giangan said there are still television programs that tend to present homosexual characters using repetitive templates, such as sassy gay best friends or butch lesbians.

"Ang daming portrayals na sobrang delikado yung representation kasi imbis na mapakalat or ma-educate yung iba sa community natin, mababaliktad pa na magiging trivial pa yung experience natin so yun talaga yung importance ng representation (There are so many portrayals that are harmful because instead of education others about our community, our experience will be viewed as trivial, so that's really importance of representation)," Giangan added.

To avoid this, Giangan suggested television crew to undergo gender sensitivity training.

"Siguro kung magre-release ng series, siguro baka mas okay kung lahat sa crew, hindi lang sa mga artista, baka better if meron munang SOGIE 101 (If and when they release a series, maybe it's better if everyone in the team undergo SOGIE 101 first)," Giangan said.

"Kung magkakaroon ng oras before mag-start yung production, baka okay na may ganun muna at gender sensitivity training. At kunwari kung ang narrative mo about lesbians, hayaan mo na lang ang mga lesbian ang magsulat nun. Same with gay narratives, trans, hayaan nating sila yung magkwento (If they have extra time before the production starts, maybe it's better to have gender sensitivity training first. And if your narrative is about lesbians, just let lesbian writers write the story. Same with gay or trans narratives, let them tell their own stories)," she added.

Meanwhile, content creator Aaron Maniego is confident that the LGBT community will see more queer representation and portrayals in the mainstream media in the future.

"In all honesty, we're getting there. first wave were the people who fortified queer representation in entertainment such as Boy Abunda, Vice Ganda, Paolo Ballesteros. Pero in my opinion, there's still much more room to grow after that," Maniego said.

"Itong second wave na to, meron tayong iba't ibang (we have) representatives from different communities. Sa Tiktok, ako (me), Sassa Gurl (Felix Petate), Pipay."