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Gay TV drama creates buzz in the Philippines

Gay TV drama creates buzz in the Philippines

A new TV serial about a woman who finds out her husband is having an affair with another man has garnered positive feedback from viewers and the LGBT community in the Philippines.

The first of 16 weekly episodes of My Husband’s Lover was shown on Filipino TV last week (10 June) and received competitive ratings and a trending hashtag on Twitter.

‘GMA Network deserves congratulations for daring to go down this road less travelled,’ said Filipino gay writer and LGBT rights advocate Raymond Alikpala in a column for GMA News Online.

‘Eschewing the stereotypical storylines and cardboard cliché characters, the writers of My Husband’s Lover are depicting homosexual persons as no different from heterosexuals, which is radical in these parts. (Gay men playing basketball? Wow!)’

Alikpala goes on to say that gay characters are often seen on TV in the Philippines, but they are always shown in supporting roles, comic relief or if they are center-stage they are camp stereotypes.

Alikpala was on the ticket for Ladlad, the Philippines’ LGBT political party, at the congressional election last month. But the party failed to win a seat.

The writer-politician said he hoped My Husband’s Lover would to what Ladlad failed to do – ‘bring LGBT awareness into the mainstream of Filipino consciousness’.

GMA program manager Helen Rose Sese said raising awareness on LGBT issues was not the aim of the TV series.

‘This show is not all about the gayness of the characters but more of a love story and a family drama,’ Sese said to Yahoo! Philippines.

‘Our intention is not to promote gay and lesbian relationship, but more of [a reflection] that this is happening now.’

Sese added that the show’s creators have been told not to produce anything that could offend the Philippines’ vocal and anti-LGBT Catholic groups. ‘We will make sure we don’t go beyond anything that will offend them, as well as the gay community,’ she said.

Alikpala cautioned that only the first episode of My Husband’s Lover has been shown, and that the series could still show a negative view of the gay characters.

‘While the depiction of homosexuality has so far been mature, nuanced and honest, I am also aware that Vincent the husband is attracted to a person other than his wife, and being gay might thus be associated with infidelity, dishonesty and deception,’ said Alikpala.

‘Such unhappy endings for LGBT characters in media are typical because this is consistent with the view of a God who punishes sinners, and that gay characters deserve a sad fate for going against God’s will.’

The Philippines was recently found to be the most gay-friendly country in Asia by a study from the US’s Pew Research Center. But Filipino LGBT-rights activists told Gay Star News the reality is not so rosy for gay, bi and trans people in the Philippines.