Life Choices: 5 things to check out this week (Pride Month edition)

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Your weekly recommendations in time for the culmination of Pride Month. Illustrations by DON JAUCIAN

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — Pride month culminates this week with various Pride “march” celebrations happening. In that spirit, we’re doing an all-queer roundup of recommendations this week, from a film and T.V. streaming app focused on LGBTQ+ content to a book that addresses the need to have comics that go against the male gaze.

Book: “I Am Jake” by Jake Zyrus

This a moving confession from Jake — and a rare book too about life as a Filipino queer person. Much of it is his account: how he came to realize he’s a trans man, his transition, and how he lives his life now without frustration and fear of people. As Charice, he was both privileged and not — allowed to live a lavish life as this budding Hollywood talent but also caged by his mother (and the specter of her, even when she was miles away) and how his fans (and bashers) would react to his coming out as a trans man. There was a lot of hesitation about owning up to his SOGIE as a trans man — a lot of factors to think about. In the end, there’s only one thing that mattered: Jake had to live his life as himself. If I have one reservation about it though, is that it’s not placed enough in the perspective of being a transgender in the Philippines, although he mentions that many are still not familiar with the term “trans man/trans woman” or what they are, but perhaps it’s not Jake’s duty to tell that yet. This is his story. If you like a good tell-all, this is for you. But also, it provides an understanding of a trans man’s journey and I’m glad that we have this book and Jake’s reach to tell such a story. — Don Jaucian

Buy the book here.

Films: GagaOOLaLa streaming app for Filipino LGBTQ films

The boom of Boys Love series during the community quarantine — months that lead up to Pride Month — has prompted me to look for more nuanced and authentic depictions of Asian and Filipino queer life on screen, be it a film or a T.V./web series. Many Filipino queer films have done it before; there’s “Tubog sa Ginto,” “Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros,” and “Quick Change.” More recently, there’s “Billie and Emma,” “Mamu and a Mother Too,” and the MMFF winning documentary “Sunday Beauty Queen.” Many of these films though are either unavailable on streaming sites or — if they are — drowned in a whole catalog of heterosexual content. The LGBTQ-focused streaming platform GagaOOLaLa is a treasure trove of queer love/life content, some of which are Filipino, such as “Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa,” “Pink Halo-halo,” “Kasal,” “Out Run,” as well as the short films “Contestant #4,” “Geography Lessons,” and “Sa Siyang Isla.” It’s encouraging to see these films within the sphere of how queer lives are depicted in world cinema. Classic films by Tsai Ming Liang and Ang Lee are also available. For those who want more Thai love stories, there’s the “Present Perfect” and “Present Still Perfect” duology and the family feature “Fathers.” — DJ

Subscribe here.

Book: “BKL/Bikol Bakla: Anthology of Bikolnon Gay Trans Queer Writing”

“BKL/Bikol Bakla” is the first anthology of Bikolnon gay, trans, and queer writing. In this book, you’ll find stories of longing, of desire, of fleeting moments of connection, of reckoning with guilt, fear, and illness — all relatable factions of life as a queer Filipino, and yet these stories also speak of uniquely queer Bikol experiences. “BKL/Bikol Bakla” is edited by Ryen Paul Sumayao and Ateneo de Manila University assistant professor Jaya Jacobo. Wanting to strike a balance between including works of both seasoned writers and young blood, the editors initiated a call for submissions. The result is a 159-page book featuring 42 poems and 16 stories from young guns like Emmanuel Roldan, J.V. Aler, Paolo Gerero, Marvin Aquino, King Llanza, to seasoned queer writers Danton Remoto, Ronald Baytan, Alvin Yapan, and the late Carlos A. Arejola, to whom the book is also dedicated. — Chang Casal

Inquire about the book here.

Book: “How We Fight For Our Lives” by Saeed Jones

“America was going to hate me for being black and gay, then I might as well make a weapon out of myself.” This is a book I wish I could read all over again for the first time. A raw and honest memoir that is less about life’s big moments and more about the process of exploring, becoming and growing into oneself. — Samantha Lee

Buy the book here.

Comic Book: “Ligaw-Tingin” by Gantala Press

In the foreword written by Emiliana Kampilan, she describes the collection as a body of work that addresses the need to have comics that go against the male gaze. It is a direct response to the Feudal-Patriarchal history of art in the Philippines. One particular story, “Paraluman” by Trisha Sanijon, gave me goosebumps the second I laid eyes on it. It is a retelling of the iconic “Huling El Bimbo” music video through the experiences of two high school girls. It was a moment when I felt like I was seen, and no comic for me has ever done that. — SL

Buy the book here.