The Philippines is taking an interesting tact at fighting discrimination with attention grabbing news segments. That’s My Tomboy, a segment on popular noontime show It’s Showtime, is a lesbian beauty pageant. Because we’re pretty too. I know I am. Tomboys are actually having a major fashion moment. Elle, Bazaar, Vogue, and the many other glossy monthlies tout “menswear inspired designs” in almost every issue while androgynous models make gender-bending chic. Tomboy Flower Girls just made the interwebs go “Squee!”
That’s My Tomboy isn’t just about tapping the boundaries of traditional femininity; it’s normalizing lesbian experiences through visibility, allowing millions of Filipino audiences to see that being a dyke doesn’t make you an alien, or ugly or undesirable.
ABS-CBS debuted That’s My Tomboy in early October. By the end of the month, the segment was an internet sensation. Hashtag #thatsmytomboy trended on Twitter internationally and LGBT advocates praised the show for finding an innovative way to entertain and educate audiences who likely had very little previous exposure to lesbian culture. Charice, the Filipino singing sensation who came out in May to much fanfare, is a big fan of the segment and contestants often reference her as source of Asian boi inspiration.
Charice began her singing career as an adorably, effeminate songstress, then publicaly transformed into a raging and unapologetic dyke. When asked by TV Patrol reporters if she’d ever be a contestant on That’s My Tomboy, Charice said that had life been different, she would have been happy to “give it a shot.”
“Someday they’re not going to label us lesbian or gay,” Charice said, “they’re just going to call us artists, and just going to call us people—equality, basically.”
That’s My Tomboy follows a similar template to mainstream beauty pageants, but with less pomp and more swag. Hordes of fawning fangirls, hometown supporters, and family members cheer their “tomboy” on from the audience. A panel of gilded judges watch with giddy approval or sympathetic dismay.
To me, the highlight was the talent portion. Watching the bois gyrate to Justin Bieber, Chris Brown, and Sisqo reminded me of late nights at Truck Stop, a West Hollywood girls’ night where anyone can get laid—but, dear God, at what cost?
When I heard “lesbian beauty pageant,” I thought to myself, “Terrible idea—let’s do it,” and immediately began plotting my own lesbian beauty pageant, minus the shackles of patriarchy and plus the shackles of my taste. Here’s my style guide for lesbian beauty pageant casual wear:
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