STREAMING service Netflix is celebrating Pride Month this June with a selection of inclusive shows that “tell diverse, inclusive, and authentic stories of the LGBTQIA+ community,” and releasing a Philippine survey and video on the importance of inclusivity and representation among its viewers.
(LGBTQIA+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, queer, intersex, asexual, with the “plus” sign standing for many other meanings like ally, non-binary, pansexual, etc.)
In a May survey that included responses from more than 900 respondents from Metro Manila, Cebu, and Davao, Netflix said that 87% of the respondents “watched shows that feature LGBTQIA+ characters and themes” and 63% “reflected that watching content with LGBTQIA+ characters or themes represented helps them better understand, empathize, and interact with the LGBTQIA+ community,” according to a press release.
The same respondents noted that films such as Die Beautiful (2016) by Jun Robles Lana and its sequel Born Beautiful (2019) by Percival Intalan, and shows such as Sex Education, Stranger Things, and the documentary A Secret Love (2020) by Chris Bolan, all of which feature LGBTQIA+ themes and characters, resonated with them.
And in celebration of Pride Month, the streaming service compiled a list of LGBTQIA+ series, movies, and documentaries which can be accessed at Netflix.com/Pride.
Pride Month is a month-long celebration and promotion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people as a social group, and is held annually in June in remembrance of the June 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City, a protest against social and political discrimination against homosexuals.
VIDEO ON FACEBOOK
Netflix Philippines also produced a video called When I Saw Me on its Facebook page where members of the Filipino LGBTQIA+ community shared their thoughts on representation onscreen.
“I first identified myself as gay, actually when I was very young. It was in fourth grade. I did not know if there was life to being gay aside from the ones I usually see on TV,” photographer BJ Pascual said in the almost six-minute video.
Marga Bermudez, an emcee, and filmmaker Samantha Lee both said in the video that often films and shows show people liking people of the same gender as a joke. “There was always just the gay and the ‘tomboy’ (lesbian) and if you are gay, it was this really effeminate man, and if you’re a tomboy, it was this hyper-masculine, butch lesbian,” Ms. Lee said in the video. “My image of myself and the images I saw on the screen didn’t really align. If I wasn’t those things that I saw on TV, how could I be gay?” she added.
Filmmaker Fifth Solomon shared that he had a friend who didn’t allow their children to watch shows with gay characters because they thought it was “contagious” so he told this friend that he grew up watching shows where most characters were straight people and he didn’t grow up straight.
“When you see a reflection and you don’t see yourself in it, it renders you invisible,” Ms. Lee said of the importance of representation.
The When I Saw Me video also features reflections from content creators Issa Pressman and Kevin Balot about the shows that made them feel seen. In Ms. Balot’s case, the show is Pose which follows the story of African-American and Latinx LGBTQ and has gender non-conforming scenes and features several transgenger characters.
“Ever since Pose was released in the Philippines, it resonated with the trans community because we always thought our lives weren’t normal. So when Pose came out it was like, ‘Ah, that’s me!’… I’m just really proud that they opened doors and platforms for transgender women when it comes to acting,” Ms. Balot said. — Zsarlene B. Chua