This is why they say July is for LGBT Wrath.
In yet another controversial move from drama anthology Maalaala Mo Kaya, Anne Curtis (a very cis woman) will be playing a trans man in the show’s July 13 episode.
Coming just off the heels of Pride Month, this is just another slap to the face to a community that’s fighting for representation.
In the episode, entitled MMK Embracing Me, Anne is set to play a trans man named Marrz Balaoro. Marrz is a Filipino Reverend and OFW who is known to be a clear advocate of LGBTQ rights.
Judging from the teasers that MMK posted on their Instagram, the producers seem to be all for fighting for these rights…on paper. The video snippet begins with a very boyish-looking Anne in a backwards hat and oversized T-shirt, locking eyes with a girl in a flowy dress. It continues with a heated scene between her character and her character’s father, which ends with her saying, “Paano ako tatanggapin ng ibang tao kung sarili kong ama hindi kaya akong tanggapin?”
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For the ordinary viewer, this would seem like a bold statement to make on primetime television. Maybe they even had the noble cause of spreading awareness to fight for LGBTQ+ rights and acceptance. We get it — it’s in the DNA of MMK to cast famous actors and actresses to tell the stories of ordinary people. Yes, maybe more people will tune in because it’s freakin’ Anne Curtis acting as a trans man. But what we don’t typically understand, especially in a deeply conservative country like ours, is that it is also erasure.
Anne Curtis is not a part of the LGBTQ+ community. In an industry with plenty of LGBTQ+ talents, it’s baffling that we’re still at this point where queer roles are given to straight artists.
What’s more, the caption of the teaser reads “Anne Curtis, sa isang matapang na pagganap.” When a straight actors plays a queer role, they are praised, with their portrayals tagged as “risque” or “daring.” Yikes.
This isn’t the first time in the past year that MMK has come under fire for the way they handled their storytelling. Last year, one episode told the story of Maris Racal as a lesbian girl who eventually turned straight. In March, Maymay Entrata (and other actors) caught flack for appearing in blackface to portray an Aeta beauty queen.
Ironically, the episode shows an example of how members of the LGBTQ+ community experience discrimination on a daily basis, and have to go to great lengths just to fight for representation and acceptance.
If MMK really wanted to do something for the marginalized communities that they feature, they’d consciously cast members of those communities to be characters, hire them to work behind the scenes, have them involved in the whole process.
While it’s unclear whether this was the case for MMK Embracing Me, it would be nice if they clarified that there were queer people behind the scenes, or if there were queer folk involved in the production in general.
It’s time for the industry — actors, producers, casting directors — to wake up and understand the repercussions of such moves in order to effect actual change.