Sep 12, 2019

Long live queer lit!

For this year’s Manila International Book Fair, we scoured the shelves of the SMX Convention Center looking for good queer reads, emphasis on good. We’re tired of our hearts breaking when the woe-begotten lesbian hero dies at the end, or reading about the life of an apolitical gay. It’s 2019 and we deserve good representation, dammit. 

So if you’re someone who wants to see what good representation looks like, we’ve put together a list of what we found:

1. “Bagay Tayo” and “Di Bagay” by Jerry B. Gracio

“Bagay Tayo,” a collection of essays, and its complementary poetry book “Hindi Bagay” written by fictionist and screenwriter Jerry B. Gracio centers around Gracio’s relationship with “Pitbull,” his partner of many years. The books build around a narrative of queer love in its most joyful and painful sense (it even opens with a passage from Roland Barthes’ “A Lover’s Discourse”).

2. “Nang Ma-In Love Ako Sa Isang Sakristan” by Richard Mercado

This coming of age comic by Richard Mercado comes with its fair share of controversy—conservative Christian groups tend not to like portrayals of queer men figuring out who they are, and they definitely don’t like it when that’s set within the context of religion. For that reason alone, “Nang Ma-In Love Ako Sa Isang Sakristan” should be worth a read, but it’s also deftly written and drawn, which is great.

3. “Ligaw-tingin” edited by Emiliana Kampilan

Women! Loving! Each! Other! “Ligaw-tingin” is a comic anthology created by queer women artists featuring queer women at front and center. As a queer woman, looking at the cover alone made me feel seen. In a country where the word “gay” still means “gay man” and queer women are kept invisible, that means a lot.

4. “Don’t Tell Anyone: Literary Smut” by  Shakira Sison and Ian Rosales Casocot

Good, literary erotica, the kind that Anaïs Nin was famous for, isn’t exactly something you see published here that often. Good, literary queer erotica by queer writers is even more unheard of. And that’s what Shakira Sison and Ian Rosales Casocot accomplished in this collection, shamelessly writing good queer sex from the perspectives of queer people.

5. “The Best of Ladlad: An Anthology of Philippine Gay Writing” edited by  J. Neil Garcia and Danton Remoto

“Ladlad: An Anthology of Philippine Gay Writing,” an anthology that writers J. Neil Garcia and Danton Remoto first started in 1994, publishes stories, essays, and poems about queerness by queer men. This particular edition collates the best of these pieces in an easy-to-read collection.

6. “Happy Na, Gay Pa” by Danton Remoto

In this collection of essays, Danton Remoto, one of the editors of “Ladlad,” uses his wildly comedic tone to touch on different LGBTQA+ issues: the trauma of coming out, discrimination, and the very important queer topic that is beauty pageants. These essays often run to the autobiographical, and they’re all highly informative and very, very funny.

7. “Talong/Tahong” edited by Rolando B. Tolentino, Joi Barrios, Romulo P. Baquiran Jr., and Mykel Andrada

“Talong/Tahong” is the last anthology on our list. Edited by Rolando B. Tolentino, Joi Barrios, Romulo P. Baquiran Jr., and Mykel Andrada (a formidable list if anything), the collection features queer short stories in Filipino. The stories here run the gamut of graphic and obscene to light and sweet.


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Read more:

8 books on Philippine mythology and where to find them at this year’s MIBF

To all the books we haven’t read, yet are already on our bookshelves

6 libraries in Metro Manila for your next reading break

This 24/7 library in Makati gives away books to visitors

You can get or donate books at this little free library by the Inquirer Foundation

TAGS: mibf 2019 queer literature