If you’re a local soap opera or teleserye addict, chances are you know the stories of Tim and Poch in Senior High, and Joseph and Ronnie, in Lovers/Liars.
Them and other similar characters becoming increasingly visible on mainstream media, especially the most consumed television, seems to suggest, times have changed, and it is a change the queer community and its allies, have patiently awaited to come.
Both shows air on the same timeslot on primetime—yes, primetime slot on free television. Gone are the days when themes like homosexuality, same-sex marriages, and their complexities, are openly discussed, and in fact, shredded in details, for the audience. Now, while restrictions remain in place that still keeps more realistic and physical depiction of queer identity, showcased in traditional and widely-consumed (not to mention, free) platforms, the presence of strong and major LGBTQIA+ characters in today’s TV dramas, seems enough an indication of the hopeful direction that queer media is currently tracking.
In Senior High, the tumultuous journey of a young man discovering truths about himself, is beautifully exhibited by Tim, brilliantly portrayed by Zaijian Jaranilla. Tim, who previously thought he was straight, faces the dilemma of finding himself attracted to a guy, in this case, Poch. Tim represents countless queer stories, suppressed by their owners, because of fear of judgment and other frightening consequences. A coming out scene between Tim and his father, in one of the most heartwarming moments in the Kapamilya TV series, serves as an invitation to parents, to open their heart to their queer kids, and remain loving and caring parents no matter what.
Poch’s story is darker and may be unsettling to hear to some, as it involves sexual abuse, but it is nevertheless teeming with inspiration. As the series suggest, hope is alive for Poch, and Tim is right by his side to assist him in finding his path to redemption.
Similarly, Lover/Liars‘ Joseph and Ronnie, is the kind of queer love, we can’t wait to celebrate in the open. Joseph, played by Rob Gomez, perfectly captures the challenges brought by a man navigating his shift from a straight to gay relationship, without hitting the radar of his straight friends. The conundrum and tests that come alongside such choice, is something one can easily relate with.
What’s beautiful about Lovers/Liars is that it is not limited to showcasing discreet homosexuality, alone. There is DJ Jhaiho’s loud character, Lucy.
People say “malayo pa, pero malayo na”, and it’s true in how mainstream media has evolved in terms of showcasing queer stories, especially on primetime television. Here’s hoping future developments further allow these stories to thrive and reflect realities, which may be also a way to put a halt on the prevailing negative opinions towards queer media.