Filmmaker Cha Roque is one of the “lucky” ones, coming from a “highly accepting” family so that there was never a closet for her to come out of; rather, “I grew up in a nurturing environment with three extraordinary women – my grandmother, mother and aunt,” she said.
But Cha likes to think that while this “luck” may have been a “blinder” for others; for Cha, it served as a springboard to do more to help those less lucky than her. Specifically as an artist, she believes that “we have the responsibility not only to entertain but also to use our art to help those who cannot raise their voices,” she said.
And so Cha – as a lesbian filmmaker – believes that “we have to keep making films about our triumphs and struggles as LGBTs, and remember that the fight for acceptance also comes with a responsibility to educate people and potential allies.”
Cha, who has a degree in communication arts, is currently the communications director of Dakila, an artist collective that believes in the power of art to incite social change; and board member of Dakila’s Active Vista International Human Rights Film Festival. As a filmmaker, she has done several narrative, documentary, video poetry and experimental films under her “CLP Videos” brand, being the brand’s co-founder and co-owner. Her creations were all “made with the consciousness to properly represent LGBT people in media.”
Her films include “Negosyanteng Malolenyo” (2011), which won the grand prize at the Documentarios y Fotographicos Malolos; and “Intercourse of Words” (2016), which was screened at Queerception 2016 Metro Manila Pride’s LGBT Arts Fair. Her films “Slay” (2017) and “What I Would Have Told My Daughter If I Knew What to Say Back Then” (2017) will both premier at the Hanoi International Queer Film Festival.
Asked which among her creations she like most, Cha identified “Itim na Tatsulok” because, “aside from the struggles of the character in the film, I also had to go through some tough times while doing the film,” she said to Outrage Magazine. She recounted that it was her college output, but coming from a Catholic school, it was prevented from garnering any awards due to its “sensitive topic”. Nonetheless, for Cha, this film gave her the inspiration that “whenever I have doubts about my craft and myself, I always look back to how I pulled off this film and how brave I was to challenge the institution I was in before.”
Cha continues to be inspired by “Filipino filmmakers who established their names in both the local and international film industry”. But she believes in giving her films that LGBT “treatment”, if not twist, so she can she present narratives that will push for “equality, LGBT rights and human rights”.
Cha – who has a 13-year old daughter, Kelsey – now contends with the challenge of being a lesbian mother. “Decisions especially those concerning my daughter are affected (by my being a lesbian),” she said, “like choosing the best school for her was really difficult because I had to look for a school that does not discriminate against LGBT parents of their students.”
Cha said she is “still confronted by offensive and insensitive questions regarding my orientation”, but that she eventually got used to it accepting the fact that “as part of the LGBT community, it is my responsibility to make other people understand who we are.”
For Cha, Kelsey is “my living proof that you don’t need to be straight to raise a family.”
Cha is also a “proud groupie to my lover, partner-in-crime and personal rockstar, Ymi.”
“I am on the verge of giving up sometimes,” Cha said. But “I keep on pushing for equal rights for LGBT people, hoping that in the near future our society will be more accepting to families like ours.”