Ally Gonzalo is reclaiming 'bakla' identity in Winnipeg's Filipinx community
'I want to reclaim that term that has been used against us'
In his studio, photographer Ally Gonzalo has set up a space for stark portraits with no extras. As he describes it: "I'm going to do it in black and white and I'm going to get really really close to my subjects. Nothing else — white background, just the person, very stoic, very poetic emotions. There's more beyond that."
Why is Gonzalo focusing so closely on the faces he's photographing? He's zeroing in on what is often referred to in Filipinx culture as "bakla" culture — that is, people assigned male at birth who identify as queer, gay or trans. They have been a strong presence in Filipinx culture, but as Gonzalo points out, "Especially in television, we always have the bakla as the gay best friend, the flamboyant one."
Watch the video:
In this video made by filmmakers Jim Agapito, Ryan Nash, Paul Stabell, Matt Purchase, and Aleksandra Osipova, Gonzalo takes you inside his Bakla! series of portraits, commissioned for CBC Arts and CBC Manitoba as part of CBC's Creator Network. You'll hear the stories — from the triumphant to the tearjerking — of bakla folks about coming out to their families and friends and settling into their own skin and identity. And you'll hear about the relationship Gonzalo himself has had with the term "bakla."