For Better or For Worse: Evolution of the Portrayal of Gays in Philippine Cinema

Abstract Clidoro, K.D. (2016). For Better or For Worse: Evolution of the Portrayal of Gays in Philippine Cinema, Unpublished Undergraduate Thesis, University of the Philippines Diliman College of Mass Communication.

Taking into account that the bakla or gay first appeared in Philippine cinema more than six decades after the introduction of the motion picture in the Philippines, this study tracks the changes in the portrayal of gays in Filipino films. Anchoring the analysis on Greimas’s Narrative Semiotics and the Foucaldian style of Discourse Analysis, this study examined 36 films, produced in 1970-2015, with gay characters in lead roles. Results revealed that there have been major and minor shifts in the portrayal of gays through time. One main finding is that the portrayal of gays as comedic and flamboyant characters who usually provide for their family to compensate for their sexuality has persisted through the decade. Previous decades’ portrayal of gays has primarily changed in terms of the physical characterization of gays. From being skinny, comedic, and flamboyant in the 1970s, the gay character transformed to a macho dancer in the 1980s and eventually turned into a struggling teenager come 21st century. But it is noteworthy that the present decade portrays gays not just as mere breadwinners but as individuals who are economically elevated and capable of building and maintaining monogamous romantic relationships.

Key words: Bakla, Gay, Philippine cinema, Filipino films

View Thesis