We are so excited to have so many new guests to ALBTALBS for Pride month this year! Today author Motzie Dapul joins us with a beautiful post discussing two LGBTQ+ stories she has written. I’m a huge fan of romance and of comics, so when the two are combined you can’t pull me away! Please give Motzie a warm welcome!
Creating the Content I Want to See in the World
It’s a bit odd to be talking about one’s own work when it comes to Pride, but a lot of great LGBTQ+ stories come from authors who, unable to find the kind of content they want to see in the world, create their own.
In the case of my own stories and comics, there was a list I found myself ticking off, of stories I’ve never seen in media, even in LGBTQ+ media, that I decided to create for myself. One of these things was the presence of the lesser known queer identities beyond lesbian and gay, which pushed me into writing a story between a pansexual woman and a non-binary person. Another of these things is something that’s becoming more frequently seen in media lately (in the year of our lord “20GayTeen”) is genre fiction with LGBTQ+ characters.
Which brings me to two of my works, putting F/F and F/NB fiction front and centre: Gorgeous, from the short story anthology Start Here: Short Stories of First Encounters, and BEHKomiks, a Filipino supernatural, urban-fantasy, action comics series centering on Filipino LGBTQ+ characters and their monstrous romantic partners.
Gorgeous follows a pansexual Filipina meeting a non-binary fellow Filipino in New York City, falling in love before finding out their history, putting their budding new relationship at risk.
I didn’t dare assume their gender, and in New York you could roll dice every other day on whether somebody was a butch lesbian or a transman. All I knew for sure was that they were handsome, and kept throwing glances at me every so often, their warm smile warding off any bad vibes I might have had from a stranger on a subway train.
We got off at the same station, and a few moments of consideration had the passenger approaching me, hands tucked into a stylish jacket’s front pockets.
“You’re not from here, are you?” they said, tone friendly but eyes musing.
“What gave it away?” I said in return.
“Had a hunch. You’ve got the real homeland feel,” they said with a drawl, looking me up and down from my dyed braids to my three layers in what to New Yorkers was ‘brisk’ weather. “Want some company? Or have you got family up here in Little Manila?”
“No family,” I replied. “Just wanted something familiar.”
They smiled sympathetically. “I could show you around, if you like. Everybody could use a familiar face.”
I stopped, brow furrowing as I studied their face. “Um… Do I know you?”
They looked startled, but shrugged. “Don’t think so. I’ve been here a couple of years, and if I met you before, I’d remember it.” They opened their hands demonstratively. “Wouldn’t forget somebody as gorgeous as you.”
Alright, so I might be cheating putting an F/NB story in a F/F blog entry, but I do enjoy breaking the mold, even within the LGBTQ+ community itself. Even with the growing acceptance of gay people and relationships in media, there are still many people who don’t know all that much about the transgender, queer, and other identities within the spectrum. Gorgeous has a formerly female-identifying character now identifying as non-binary and going by they/them pronouns, and I knew that this would be many readers’ first encounter with non-binary people, and I had to get it right. As someone within the community with friends who identify as trans and non-binary, it was important for me to get it right.
Start Here is available on Amazon and on the romanceclass site.
Moving on from more realistic stories, here’s a few pages from my ongoing comic series, BEHKomiks. This particular issue, #2, covers the relationship between a manananggal and a human girl.
In this story, a young boy fights and kills an ancient evil, only for that ancient evil to return in his twenties and go after his loved ones, including his childhood friend Gina (seen above) and his boyfriend, a Tikbalang named Siglo.
The story, in this case, does not focus on the LGBTQ+ romance present within, but the gay relationships are present, they’re prominent, and nearly every character in the comic identifies as part of the LGBTQ+ community, including Gina and her girlfriend, the hundred-plus year old manananggal Maja. This is another form of LGBTQ+ media I want to push forward, along with my own pride for Filipino stories and mythology as a whole: the kind in which it’s not a “gay” story in so much as “gay stories” have formed their own genre, but it is a genre story populated almost entirely by gay characters.
As someone who’s loved genre fiction all my life, it’s something I’ve always found important to do, and is becoming more and more prominent in genre fiction as representation becomes more of a staple in the industry. And it’s my hope that this trend continues, so that we’ll come to a time in which fiction with majority or entirely LGBTQ+ casts are common.
BEHKomiks can be found updating in webcomic form at Tapas.io
Author bio: Motzie Dapul is a writer, artist, animator by profession. Indie comics creator, looking to bring LGBTQ+ characters and Filipino culture into mainstream Western media. Writer of the superhero, Filipino political spec-fic novel BAYANI (Amazon, Gumroad), writer/artist of the Filipino urban fantasy LGBTQ+ webcomic BEHKomiks (Tapas.io), editor/contributor to The Pinoy Monster Boyfriend Anthology short comics collection (Gumroad). All listed works written in English. You can also find her on social media:
What about the rest of you? What would you like to see more of in regard to LGBTQ+ representation in the types of genres you read?