A Butterfly Taboo

Philippines, 2014

⇒ To see the full-length documentary, click here

While following the struggle of a Filipino LGBT political party campaigning for a seat in congress, the film’s director looks back at his own troubled youth, growing up gay. A fusion of animation and documentary footage, the film introduces the poetic voice of the director as he deals with a personal dilemma: “Should I jump through the window? Or should I continue my personal battle to come out of my cocoon of doubt and confusion?” ‘A Butterfly Taboo’ offers an interesting fusion of animation and documentary footage.

Nawruz Paguidopon, why did you want to tell this story?

“I find this documentary very personal. It served as my immersion into the deep experience I had when I was young. This documentary is an attempt to articulate and recount every notion that young gays have to deal with in that stage. I used to think that one day, I would translate this unfortunate experience that I had of growing up gay into something that people can relate to, be they straight or gay or whoever they are. My past experience was hard and I am aware that all people like me have to pass this stage. It was common to think of committing suicide in those troubled times. Another option was to loathe ourselves for having the ‘illness’ inside us.”

“I was raised in a conservative family, so I know how it feels to grow up sexually oppressed and to be barred in my personal freedom from expressing what I have in my mind. But I took this as an opportunity to see and experience the dominant ‘heterosexual’ point of view and it made think about how it would feel to be in an open minded and a free society. I hoped that someday that would be realised here. The Internet and my university’s resources on the subject were helpful to me because I got access to information on everything I needed to know about homosexuality, its history and how people in different eras and in different cultures respond to it.”

“Filipinos are nowadays generally tolerant towards gay people but they give us limited roles and importance in the society and they are often dangerous. This documentary also serves as an opportunity to voice my opinion about how the media in my country view gay people in general.”

“I chose to follow Ang Ladlad’s party, a political party for Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgenders (LGBT) in the Philippines that plans to run in the election and represent the LGBT community in the congress, so that they will be visible. Their motivation and intentions are clear to me.”

“Back when I was in college, I was an avid reader of Danton Remoto’s books. After I graduated, I saw him on television. After several failed attempts to become a senator, he became the spearhead of a party that wishes to represent LGBT issues and concerns in the congress. I grabbed this opportunity to present my personal story in a documentary film in relation to that party’s political ambitions in the Philippine congress. I believe that it was relevant to my current life crisis, the fact that they were running for a seat in congress”.

“I made the decision to work on this film in order to come out publicly. There are stories in the Philippines that represent the gay voice but they don’t relate much to the experiences that young gay people have to deal with. This documentary has a purpose and I personally want this voice to be heard.”

Nawruz Paguidopon about Document Our History Now:

“It is really an opportunity to be able to collaborate with Document Our History Now on my film ‘A Butterfly Taboo’. Documenting Ang Ladlad’s political party, the only LGBT party in Asia, is an important opportunity for me because it adds to the colourful history of the Philippines LGBT community. Document Our History Now made it possible for this short documentary to be made.”

Exposure so far:

  • Screening at &PROUD LGBT Film Festival, Yangon, November 2014