Gay-themed series “My Husband’s Lover (MHL) got nominated in the prestigious 2014 International Emmy Awards. Creator Suzette Doctolero still cannot believe the news. To her, it is definitely a dream come true. Even if making it to the winning spot is impossible considering the other formidable nominees, getting that recognition is already an honor, she believes.
The top-rating show is first of its kind in Philippine television and dubbed as the most daring series to hit local TV. Tom Rodriguez, Carla Abellana and Dennis Trillo starred the said TV show. It portrays the tabooed love affair of Vincent (Tom), who is married to Lally (Carla), and Eric (Dennis), his lover—and the complications of living in a society that is not accepting of their unusual romance—and the struggle of Lally in her marriage with a man whose affection and lust she shares with a man.
The airing of the series received both praise and criticism. Understandably, the LGBT community was very supportive (an understatement) and hoped that the show would serve as a threshold for more recognition and respect. Philippines is among the most gay-friendly countries in the world, yet as a proclaimed deeply Catholic nation, things like same-sex marriage and gay rights are alien to most Filipinos.
Conservatives, on the other hand, would not have any of this abomination. Making it local TV is a poison to the young minds. They claim that it will have a degrading effect on family values, and that it is a promotion of something ‘Satanic.’ Things like that should be kept in the closet, not promoted. They see it as a clear sign of decline of Filipino morality. One angry viewer even commented that someday Filipinos would accept the idea of bestiality and pedophilia as these would demand ‘respect’ and ‘acceptance’ as well. This may sound like a caustic joke, but some surely share this kind of view.
Philippines, despite the influence of openly gay people especially in media, television, and various social settings, is still a Catholic nation that is resolute on its stand on homosexuality. Party list like ‘Ladlad’ is one community that seeks recognition and establishment of gay rights and privileges; however, predictably it failed to get the approval of the majority. In this country, gays are allowed to hold positions; some even have real influence, but the basic rights such as marriage are unheard of.
It may take longer time before Filipinos would embrace the idea of ‘TomDen’ kind of relationship in its entirety and implications. The sympathy still falls unanimously on Lally, the betrayed wife. Family means a father and a mother with clearly defined roles although some modifications are permitted like a mother being the breadwinner, which is normally the role of a father. But the idea of two men or two women living together does not fit the concept of a family. All the more should people react if a child lives with same-sex couples.
If this is one battle that the LGBT community would continue to fight for, then they may have to strengthen their resolve longer. However, with the success of MHL, they can get a glimpse of hope that, if not now, the generations to follow will finally have a real place for them. Sympathy is good but it is not enough. They need something tangible like a law that will protect their rights, and probably honor their marriage.