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Bekimon: Language of the Gays

Article by: Alexandra Isabelle G. Delavin and Alyanna Ysabelle A. Faustino

Graphics by: Aliza Belle C. Dayao

June, hailed as Pride Month, is a period when the LGBTQ+ community gathers as one in their eccentric costumes and colors to celebrate the freedom to be themselves. Celebrating the month both as a tradition and advocacy, it is met with bursting colors signifying freedom, equality, and pride. The purpose of the commemoration is to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and other queer individuals have had on history – be it locally or internationally.

As society becomes more open toward the LGBTQ+ community, Filipinos have slowly adapted themselves to pieces of their unique culture, particularly with their quirky means of communication. In early 2010, the Philippines marveled with the emergence of jejemon, and around the same time, the gay lingo bekimon has risen to popularity, giving the gay community a safe space within society. While jejemon has gradually phased out from the masses, bekimon remained.

LGBTQ’s Universal Language

As a term, bekimon has altogether engulfed a rich history of swardspeak and gay lingo into a universal language for the gay community. Derived from the colloquial word “beki,” which translates into gay and “mon,” as a nod to ‘jejemon’ or the deliberate exaggerated use of special characters in ordinary words. Bekimon took off from the jejemon craze online and set up its own subculture—one with more profound, significant roots.

For Mapúa University Multimedia Arts student Timothy Sitenta, the blossoming of the Bekimon craze was parallel to that of jejemon, and a certain Youtuber Bern Josep Persia, nicknamed Bekimon, became the face and driving force behind the unique language. According to Sitenta, content creator Bekimon started to teach the language through his Youtube channel, spearheading its imminent rise to mainstream media. “Parang, nagvideo siya […] and then yun, na-apply na niya. Nagagamit na ng ibang tao, kahit straight [sila], nagagamit na [nila] yung mga ibang salita […] like ‘bongga’, ganun, ‘charot’” Sitenta shared.

For the LGBTQ+ community, Bekimon continues to be developed and new words in the lingo come to light. However, Sitenta was quick to impart that Bekimon is best used for conversational purposes and not for formal circumstances.

A Unique Word of Mouth

The creativity of the LGBTQ+ community is in full display when it comes to certain words in their lingo, transcending into iconic Filipino phrases such as “charot.” Sitenta cited how YouTuber Wil Dasovich, a Filipino that did not grow up in the Philippines, was still able to easily grasp the term in his vlogs. This solidifies the impact of the word as a fun self-expression of joking around. “Very easy [siyang] tandaan, very madali siyang nagagamit. ‘Charot’ for me is my favorite […] word [in Bekimon],” Sitenta admitted.

Though initially meant for the gay community, Filipinos – LGBTQ+ or not – have unconsciously incorporated the lingo into their daily lives. Dubbed a play of words, Bekimon terms are often associated with particular words used to create completely different meanings. Along with the iconic charot, other common jargons include jowa, referring to one’s significant other, and bes for a close friend. Splashed with creativity, Bekimon also paints phrases associated with famous actors and movies such as Tom Jones, which means gutom or hungry in gay lingo, and Indiana Jones which equates to someone who did not show up.

With the surge in using the specified lingo, it is no surprise that people now coin more terms to add to their language. Sitenta then revealed this posed a challenge as there were instances where he was asked about jargon that he never knew existed, proving that gayspeak continues to change and evolve over time.

A Rainbow of Expression

Recalling the impact of Bekimon on his life, Sitenta views the gay lingo as more than just a collection of jargon, but also an instrument of self-expression, “… it really helped to express myself. Syempre using your own language or using own words na very colorful [and] very playful, helps me as a person [para] i-embody ko rin sa labas yung pagiging colorful and playful [ko] as a person so it [has] really helped my self-expression,” he elaborated.

Adding to this, the Mapúan expressed his joy over the influence of Bekimon in educating the youth on the wide spectrum of gender and sexuality – that these two are not just a matter of black and white.

As the gay lingo continues to be one of the widely used languages in the Philippines, it has also become a bridge that has helped the LGBTQ+ community to gradually feel welcomed and supported by society, “...parang nabibigyan kami ng light even sa paggamit lang ng simple words and phrases – na naaccept na [yung LGBTQ+ community], or [nalalaman ko na] yung friend na ‘to is an ally, so that’s really overwhelming.”

While it started out as a safe space for gays to talk using their own code, Bekimon’s rising popularity has caused it to grow out of its shell and become a mainstream language in the country. Nonetheless, one should not forget that it is more than just a hype, but a symbol for the gay community to embrace a language of their own.

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