IN RECENT weeks, a photo of the bloodied faces of Melania Gaymonat and her girlfriend Chris went viral online. While on a bus ride in the early hours of May 30 in London, the women were attacked by a group of young men for refusing their demand to kiss each other. “They started beating me, I was bleeding all over — I was really bleeding,” Ms. Gaymonat told BBCWorldatOne. According to a report by The Guardian on June 8, a fifth arrest has been made in connection with the attack.

In the continuing fight for LGBT rights and the legalization of same sex unions, homophobic violence and abuse persists. And it has to stop.

As an examination of hate crimes and their effect on its victims, Positive Space, MusicArtes, and New Voice Company will present Diana Son’s Stop Kiss in July for a limited run at the Power Mac Center Spotlight, Circuit Makati City.

Directed by Gawad Buhay and Aliw Award-winning director and designer Ed Lacson, Jr., the play is set in New York City and follows traffic reporter Callie who is comfortable with her routine at work and occasionally joins her like-minded friends. Callie then meets Sara who has just arrived in the city to teach. The strength of their relationship is challenged after the ladies share their first kiss at NYC’s West Village late one evening and a bystander viciously attacks them.

First staged in the Philippines by New Voice Company in 2003, the play returns with the same lead actors who switch roles this time around.

“I brought up the idea of switching roles,” said Jenny Jamora who plays Sara, at a press conference on June 17 at Pineapple Lab in Makati City. “I [also] wanted to get to know [the character of] Sara and it was an interesting process to come in, knowing nothing again.”

“Sara is so close to my heart,” said Missy Maramara, who now plays Callie, on how she reacted to the idea of switching roles. “When I’m scared of something, that’s when I know I should do it.”

Stop Kiss was first produced off-broadway in 1998 at The Public Theater in New York City. The play won the GLAAD (Gay Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) Media Award for Best New York Production the following year.

“We are saturated with with scripts that are focused on gay relationships. If you go back two to three years, there are many showcases on gay relationship,” the director, Mr. Lacson, said in a mixture of English and Filipino, of limited representation of lesbian relationships in theater.

“We lack plays like this in the community. I hope there are more writers who would write about this,” he added.

Joining the cast are Gabe Mercado as Sarah’s ex-boyfriend Peter; Robbie Guevara as Detective Cole who is assigned to Callie and Sarah’s case; Jay Valencia-Glorioso as Mrs. Winsley, the lone witness to the attack; and J-mee Katanyag as Sara’s nurse.

“Everyone has a right to just find someone they can love. You’ve [got to] fight for that right. If you feel that you can go out and love someone, then why are you denying anyone else that right?,” said Tarkek El Tayech, who plays George, Callie’s “friend with benefits.”

“This is just another way for this play to show people all sorts of love and it’s all just the same. Love is love,” he said.

As the playwright’s message about writing the story goes: “Because unquestionably the last beat of the play is: love wins.”

Stop Kiss will have performances on July 12 to 14 and July 19 to 21 at the Power Mac Center Spotlight, Circuit Makati City. Tickets available at For inquiries and show buying, contact Camille Abaya at 0915-835-9210, or e-mail — Michelle Anne P. Soliman