MANILA, Philippines – At the start of the pandemic in early 2020, BL – or “Boys’ Love” – stories quickly gained the attention of the Filipino audience. BL series are dramas depicting homosexual romances between men. Yay for representation!
Initially, Filipino fans were obsessed with Thai BL stories like 2gether and TharnType, but soon enough, local and international film industries took advantage of the high demand and released their own BL stories. One of the most known local BL web series is Gameboys, which stars Elijah Canlas and Kokoy de Santos, while other popular international BL series include Bad Buddy from Thailand starring Nanon Korapat and Ohm Pawat, and Heartstopper from Great Britain featuring Joe Locke and Kit Connor.
The LGBTQ+ representation and support goes beyond the screen as well, as actors like Korapat and Pawat are known to support gay advocacies in their countries, such as the legalization of same-sex unions. Gameboys stars Canlas and De Santos are also known allies of the community making their stand on issues such as the passage of the SOGIE bill and the Anti-Discrimination Bill, among others.
Want to know more about your favorite BL stars? Read on!
The Philippine Gameboys series revolves around popular streamer Cairo Lazaro (Elijah Canlas) and the flirtatious Gavreel Alarcon (Kokoy de Santos). The story follows how their purely online interaction as a streamer and a fan develops into something deeper. The story goes on to tell how their long-distance and homosexual relationship faced different ups and downs during the pandemic.
Elijah Luiz Canlas is a 21-year-old Filipino actor and commercial model, who is still in college pursuing a degree in Philippine Arts at the University of the Philippines Manila.
Canlas started his entertainment career in 2014 as one of the four main characters of the Cinemalaya film entry Sundalong Kanin. However, he is most known for his lead roles in Kalel, 15, and the BL series Gameboys and its movie sequel.
In 2020, Canlas received the Best Supporting Actor award (PinakaPASADOng Katuwang na Aktor) from the Pampelikulang Samahan ng mga Dalubguro for his supporting role in the movie Edward (2019). For Kalel, 15, Canlas received his first Best Actor award at the prestigious 17th Asian Film Festival in Rome, Italy and the Best Actor award at the Harlem International Film Festival in New York, USA. His role in Gameboys awarded him the Best Leading Actor at the Pinoy Boys’ Love Awards in 2020 and got him Actor of the Year from CNN.
In terms of dating, Canlas has recently become official with his girlfriend Miles Ocampo.
Kokoy de Santos
Ronald Marquez de Santos Jr., more popularly known as Kokoy de Santos, is a 24-year old Filipino actor, singer, dancer, and commercial model. Aside from his entertainment career, he finished a Culinary Arts course at Chef Logro’s Institute of Culinary and Kitchen Services.
Although he got into show business in 2011, Kokoy de Santos is most known for his recent acting roles in Fuccbois (2019) and Gameboys. For the BL web series, he won the Best Couple award together with Elijah Canlas at the Pinoy Boys’ Love Awards in 2020.
In 2020, he starred as the titular character in Oh, Mando!, another Filipino BL series. Presently, Kokoy stars as Gavreel Alarcon in the second season of Gameboys and will join the cast of Running Man Philippines.
Bad Buddy (Thailand)
Bad Buddy centers on Pran (Nanon Korapat) and Pat’s (Ohm Pawat) rivalry, which stemmed from their families’ long-standing feud as neighbors. As they reunite in university, they find that their respective colleges are also in a feud, so Pat and Pran find a way to secretly keep in touch to ensure that their friends never meet. With this, they unknowingly develop into something more, but are challenged to hide their newfound relationship from their friends and families.
Korapat Kirdpan, also known as Nanon, is a 21-year-old Thai actor and singer. Presently, Kirdpan is studying at the College of Social Communication Innovation in Srinakharinwirot University, where he takes up Cinema and Digital Media and Acting and Directing for Cinema.
Kirdpan’s entertainment career started in TV commercials as early as when he was three years old, since his father, Khunakorn Kirdpan, is also a celebrity in Thailand. In 2014, he debuted as an actor in the television series Hormones 2 in a guest role. He became known later for his leading roles in Senior Secret Love: My Lil Boy & My Lil Boy 2 (2016), My Dear Loser: Edge of 17 (2017), The Gifted (2018), and The Gifted: Graduation (2020).
He has received various award nominations for his roles in The Gifted: Graduation and the BL series Bad Buddy. He won as Popular Actor in the 1st Siam Series Awards in 2021 and was nominated for Best Actor in the Kazz Awards in 2022.
Pawat Chittsawangdee, nicknamed Ohm, is a 22-year-old Thai actor. Like Kirdpan, he also studies Cinema and Digital Media at the College of Social Communication Innovation of Srinakharinwirot University.
Chittsawangdee’s career started only in 2016 when he was cast as Frame in Make It Right. From this time onwards, he starred in several other dramas such as Siam 13 Hours (2017), and BL series such as He’s Coming to Me (2019), and The Shipper (2020).
In 2020, he won the Best Dramatic Scene award (together with a co-star) for their couple role in He’s Coming to Me at the LINE TV Awards. Chittsawangdee also received a nomination for Best Actor and Best Couple with Kirdpan in the Kazz Awards in 2022.
Heartstopper (Great Britain)
Heartstopper is a coming-of-age series about the budding romance between shy drummer and comfortably-queer Charlie Spring (Joe Locke) and his new seatmate – popular rugby player and “the straightest person” Nick Nelson (Kit Connor). Their cute and flirty greetings turn into friendship, which later on leads them to figuring out the boundaries of their ambiguous relationship – and their identities.
Based on Alice Oseman’s graphic novel, Heartstopper is an eight-episode series streaming on Netflix, with two more seasons confirmed.
Joseph William Locke, better known as Joe Locke, is an 18-year-old Manx actor. He attends Ballakermeen High School and is currently studying for his Advanced Level exams in Politics, History, and English.
Locke’s lead role in Heartstopper as Charlie is his first onscreen role, but prior to this, he has performed onstage at the National Theatre Connections in 2020.
Kit Sebastian Connor is an 18-year-old English actor, currently attending Whitgift School and finishing his Advanced Level exams in Drama, English Literature, and History.
His entertainment career started early when he was eight years old with minor appearances on British television. Some of his more recent work which gained him attention include his role as teenage Elton John in Rocketman (2019), his voice acting for Pan in His Dark Materials (2019), and his role as Nick Nelson in Heartstopper (2021).
In a recent tweet, Connor addressed some of his fans who have speculated about his sexuality. He also mentioned in a W Magazine interview that people shouldn’t assume anything if he hasn’t said anything as it [sexuality] is a personal journey that people have to get on.
Who among these BL stars is your favorite? – Rappler.com
Elle Guison is a Rappler intern.