Frameline Encore - Free Screening
*All Frameline Encore Screenings are free an open to the public*
Co-Director/Producer Johnny Symons
Which country has the only LGBTQ political party in the world? Wrong! It's the Philippines, where the Roman Catholic Church rules society despite a wary tolerance for baklas (gay men) and transgender people-as long as they stay in their "accepted" places. Those places are the entertainment world, in the form of transgender beauty pageants attended by snickering rubberneckers; beauty salons, where transwomen can do business and build community; and sex work, in the shadows of mainstream society.
LGBTQ Filipinos on the whole are subject to discrimination, extortion, forced separation, and hate crimes. But the party-list system in the Philippines allows marginalized groups to vie for seats in 20 percent of the House of Representatives. In 2013, trans activist Bemz Benedito and the Ladlad (meaning "be true to your nature") Party made a historic attempt to place three LGBTQ candidates in congressional seats on a platform that included filing an anti-discrimination Bill and setting up homes for elderly baklas abandoned by their families.
This documentary takes us into the Philippines' of-the-people political world, where beauty salons become campaign chapters and dubious party alliances are the norm. Should Ladlad's platform include the controversial issue of same-sex marriage? Loss of confidence turns to bitter resolve when, a few weeks before election, a transwoman is beaten to death for using a women's restroom. Emmy-nominated Bay Area documentarians S. Leo Chiang and Johnny Symons turn an incisive lens on international LGBTQ grassroots organizing and coalition building.