There’s still a long way to go when it comes to the representation of the LGBTQ+ community in cinema. It’s not often that we get to see queer stories represented on the silver screen. Thankfully, though, that doesn’t mean there’s a complete lack of LGBTQ+ films, and that includes local ones that take on the queer Filipino experience.
If you’re looking to have a marathon of LGBTQ+ movies this Pride Month, here are just some Filipino picks to check out:
Die Beautiful (2016)
When Trisha, a transgender woman, dies, her friends honor her and her love for pageantry by dressing her body up as different female pop icons each day of the wake despite her father wanting to bury her as a boy. The movie both shows various significant moments in her life as a transgender woman through flashbacks and shows the present time where her chosen family mourns and remembers her. Effectively exploring the joys and struggles of being transgender, the film celebrates Trisha’s life and the love present in the queer community.
Rene, an elderly gay man who thinks there’s nothing more to life for him other than awaiting death, is guarded and mostly sticks to Bwakaw, a dog he adopted and grew a soft spot for. When Bwakaw gets sick, though, Rene finds comfort in his new friendship with Sol, a tricycle driver. It’s the restraint of this film that allows it to pack a punch with its exploration of what opening up to new experiences and self-discovery as a queer person means when it happens later in life.
Baka Bukas (2016)
Alex is out as a lesbian to everyone but her straight best friend, Jess, with whom Alex realizes she’s in love. However, when Jess finds out, she and Alex are faced with new possibilities when it comes to the nature of their bond. The different progressions in their relationship are subtle, but the film still effectively portrays the delights, heartbreaks, and opportunities to heal that come with coming out to the people most important to you.
2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten (2016)
Felix is a studious high school sophomore in 1990s Pampanga who mostly keeps to himself. When Felix meets the Snyder brothers after they transfer to his school, his life changes. Suddenly, befriending Magnus and Maxim leads him to dark and mysterious twists as well as face desires he’s never experienced before. While the film takes sinister turns that set it apart from the uplifting or romantic LGBTQ+ movies, it explores the realities of class differences, denial of queerness, and cultures of violence.
Billie and Emma (2018)
This film follows a blossoming romance between two girls who meet in a small-town Catholic high school. Billie, a tomboy who was sent away from Manila by her father as punishment for being a lesbian, and Emma, a star student and popular girl, fall for each other, but their already-frowned-upon romance is made more complicated when they find out Emma is pregnant. This movie tackles class, teenage pregnancy, and homophobia without steering away from its uplifting exploration of young queer love in the 90s.