THROUGH PRIDE MONTH, a tribute to the pivotal event of the liberation movement for LGBTQIA+ rights are celebrated. It’s essential to know and be aware. What better way to do this than by consuming related media literature? Here are books and movies that shed a better understanding!
Princess Kevin by Michaël Escoffier (book) – 8/10
This book is a heartwarming and humorous story that tackles imagination, unlikeness, and steadfastness in expressing your spectacular self. Although it is only a 32-page children’s book, it holds a sense of importance, not just because of the fantastic illustrations but because of how it tackles gender stereotypes.
The book revolves around how Kevin doesn’t care about what other kids his age think, as he stays true to himself. Showing up with an excellent princess costume and glamorous makeup, this little boy just wants to be a princess. After all, he justifies how girls can be cowboys and knights, so why is it such a fuss if he wants to be a princess? Although it may seem that Kevin is ignorant about other people’s opinions, it’s still commendable how his character was written. This shows kids nowadays that it is okay to break gender norms by dressing up and being brave, even if others may find you and your choices odd.
The Boy Foretold by the Stars (2020) by Dolly Dulu (film) – 7/10
Religion and masculinity are two ideas that serve as antitheses, not only in cinema but reality, as well. The Boy Foretold by the Stars deals with both themes and doesn’t use it only as slapstick comedy.
We can categorize the film as either good or bad, depending on how we perceive things, and this movie brings out a fresher perspective on how Filipino BL’s should be presented. In a less harsh setting, with high school characters and “out and proud students” in a predominantly catholic institution. It is dazzlingly executed. This film is for the characters not to be afraid of who they are as they stand up against injustices and bullies in the school while maintaining their most finesse self—which makes the film charming and predominantly Filipino.
Billie and Emma by Samantha Lee (film) – 10/10
Billie & Emma takes place in the late 90s—where mobile gadgets were not a commodity as courtship traditionally takes place, and feelings were developed mainly through long stares and personal touches. The movie takes place in a provincial set-up, wherein the Manila girl Billie is exiled by her parents and sent off to an all-girl rural Catholic school. Being supervised by her aunt, Billie hopes to pass the remaining school year without fuss and hassle. But that wasn’t the case since she caught the attention of the bi-curious star pupil Emma, who is on the edge of being expelled due to getting pregnant.
While the movie brings us back to the giddy feeling of being in love, it also makes us question the life decisions of the character, and it may even raise the eyebrows of some film enthusiasts due to the laid-back perspective of the characters and endings without obsolete conclusions. Likewise, feminism holds relevance in most aspects of the film due to the pro-choice stance of some of the characters, as seen in the movie.
Billie & Emma hit it hard and left a mark on spectators without clobbering on its rigid themes. It is a ray of sunshine for those struggling with individuality and rising above queer themes.
If You Still Recognise Me by Cynthia So (book) – 7/10
If You Still Recognise Me revolves around the life of 18-year-old Elsie and her online friend Ada, who share the same interest in a particular comic. Although Elsie, as the character, seems to be dealing with a lot of stuff, like certain aspects of family struggles and the death of a loved one, she still manages to make her story a beautiful coming-of-age one; where dealing with a lot seems to be easy and felt light. Because the main character has a touch of lovable character, even you as a reader may immediately fall for her.
Interestingly enough, she’s a red flag. Elsie is insecure after a toxic relationship. She tends to fall for someone she hasn’t met yet. She’s still scared of coming out to her parents, but then she grows and matures as the story continues. Aside from the fact that it is a love story, it is more of the characters’ self-development, especially the improvement of the main character herself, that makes this book worthy of reading.
All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson (book) – 9.5/10
Next on our list is a book about being part of the LGBTQ+ and black communities. The memoir-manifesto of Johnson is a series of essays following his journey growing up as a Queer Black man in New Jersey. The author states the following in a Vogue interview as he was questioned about the book and its context, “… I was writing the book I wish I got to have when I was a youth struggling with the intersections of my Blackness and my queerness, and trying to navigate a society that wasn’t built for me… I also thought it was important that people started to learn that this world exists outside of a heterosexual bubble….”
The memoir has amassed various comments and violent reactions. It was banned in several states, such as Florida and Texas, due to queer sex and masturbation. Yet the book had always been intended to be read by an older audience, and its central themes always fitted its demographic — sex education, consent, and agency.
Girl (2018) by Lukas Dhont (film) – 7/10
Girls are expected to be kind and soft-spoken; no matter what they do, they should stay submissive while suppressing feelings. But what does a girl genuinely want and feel? These questions rattle our main character’s mind. Lara, a transwoman about to experience transition surgically, has been applauded by her father for her admirable courage.
Despite family members’ encouragement, judgments always seem to have a toll on the main character’s life, like the inspections that she is down to being meticulously judged for not being girl enough. But here comes the beauty of the story; learning the battles inside of the beautiful and talented transwoman of the generation.
Metamorphosis (2019) by J.E Tiglao (film) – 8.5/10
Some people who have seen this say it’s something recycled, slow, and has a mind-bendy hook. But it’s undeniable that this movie is one for the books as it does not shy away from a crude depiction of sexual initiation, embracing its roughness and messiness.
We can’t see beauty unless we dig deeper into something. The story’s main character is born with both male and female genitals. They try to explore and give meaning and light to the world by testing the limitations of their personality and identity into a whole new ambiguity of desires. This may be a good film, especially if you, someone who feels differently, finally finds a place in this world.
Indeed, it’s incredible to see how much cinema has evolved, how literature has become more progressive, and how various artists and filmmakers express gender expression and oppression through their creative works.
(with Shelly Bocabel)