bakla | Ally Gonzalo | Flux Gallery

Launch: Friday, 6 March 2020, 6 – 9 PM. Event is free and all are welcome.

Run: 6 March – 26 March, 2020

Gallery hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 12 – 5 PM

Bakla (Tagalog) — a Filipino person assigned male at birth but having adopted mannerisms traditionally regarded as feminine. The term includes individuals who identify as trans, non-binary, bisexual, etc.

Bakla predates the word “gay” with the latter only emerging around the 19th century. Similar to indigenous Two-Spirit folk, bakla are considered to be capable of seeing the world through both female and male eyes prior to colonization. They were shamanistic leaders who practiced divination and entered into trances as part of their ritualistic practices. The bakla were labeled as pagans and murdered by Spanish colonizers, creating a power vacuum that was used to install Catholicism.

With Winnipeg having the largest concentration of Filipinos in Canada, it has unfortunately become a microcosm of what Filipino society is back home, meaning that the discrimination towards the bakla, and the Filipinx community in general, has also carried over. Despite this, our communities remain resilient, strong, and colorful. This portrait series is meant to celebrate the diverse identities of the bakla as an act of decolonization from our past and to challenge non-baklas’ prevailing perceptions of who we are.

Ally is a gay Filipino photographer who immigrated to Winnipeg in 2016. For the past two years he has become self-taught in the medium, during which time he has built a foundation in landscape and street photography. Determined to better himself as an artist, he decided to pursue formal training after moving to Canada. While in school, he discovered his knack for portraiture and now specializes in that genre of photography.

He has worked on various portrait series that challenge ideas of masculinity and identity to create a safe space for male-identifying individuals who come from the queer, BIPOC, and immigrant communities.