OPINION: OhMyV33nus and the burden of representation
Johnmar “OhMyV33nus” Villaluna honestly needs no introductions. But to the uninitiated, they are the affectionately dubbed Queen of Philippine Mobile Legends, the team captain of Blacklist International who led the org to victory at the season 7 Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Professional League Philippines (MPL PH). OhMyV33nus is also openly queer.
Who says esports are only for kings?
— Blacklist International (@BLACKLISTINTL) May 31, 2021
Perhaps in the future, OhMyV33nus’ identity as a queer Filipino isn’t the only (or more profitable) angle to take when discussing them on the internet. Their very existence as a public queer person has placed themselves in a position where their peace is constantly interrupted. In fact, in a recent scandal, OhMyV33nus was subjected to homophobic remarks from fellow MPL PH player Duane “Kelra” Pillas of Omega Esports. This justifiably raised outrage from fans and other MPL PH personalities and has resulted in a fine and a 2-week suspension for Kelra.
MPL PH could have easily used Kelra’s case as a warning for future players by enforcing a harsher penalty considering the Omega Esports ace violated two rules and attacked three different players unprovoked. However, an upside to the whole situation was the requirement of MPL PH franchise teams to attend a Gender Sensitivity and Sexual Harassment Awareness Training Seminar in hopes that the situation will not repeat itself.
Official Statement of MPL-Philippines Regarding Grant Duane "Kelra" Pillas pic.twitter.com/IurL6iKp2q
— MPL Philippines (@MplPhilippines) August 16, 2021
More likely than not, if OhMyV33nus weren’t queer, this unprovoked attack would not have even occurred. This isn’t to say that OhMyV33nus’ queerness is the problem, but rather the idea that their public queerness is fair game for insult. This prompted the hashtag #V33Better where OhMyV33nus, in a response to the scandal, wrote “Gusto ko lang ipaalala sa inyo na hindi kailanman naging maganda ang pambabastos at never itong naging katawa-tawa.”
(I just want to remind you all that it has never been good to disrespect anyone and it will never be a laughing matter.)
— Blacklist International (@BLACKLISTINTL) August 17, 2021
OhMyV33nus is an individual that we have unfairly given the burden of representing their fellow queer Filipinos, especially queer gamers who undoubtedly look up to them as a role model. Even I am not exempt from celebrating their queerness in a Pride Month article just after their MPL PH victory.
When you are the only voice in the room, the people who hope you speak for them will always hold you at a higher standard. OhMyV33nus isn’t allowed to be publicly enraged at the constant bullying they receive from homophobic fans; OhMyV33nus isn’t allowed to stay quiet and detach themselves from the drama because the burden of representing queer Filipino gamers falls on their shoulders. OhMyV33nus isn’t allowed to be anything but kind and positive and sweet and queer because that is what we have expected of them and because it risks labelling other queer players. It’s an incredibly large burden that OhMyV33nus has been graciously carrying all throughout their career.
Blacklist Agents, let's create more safe spaces 🏳️🌈
— Blacklist International (@BLACKLISTINTL) April 30, 2021
In a previous row of homophobic comments hurled at the Blacklist International veteran during a match against Bren Esports, OhMyV33nus took to Facebook to write, “I will use any platforms that I can to spread awareness about how homophobic slurs affect a member of LGBTQ+ and how to turn that negativity into inspiration to keep moving forward. Let this be a healing movement not only limited to the LGBTQ+ community, but also to everyone.”
OhMyV33nus doesn’t have to carry this burden alone. The call to #V33Better falls into institutions to fairly punish bad behavior. It falls into every team actively training players to be more aware of the responsibility of their words and actions. It falls into the responsibilities of every Filipino gamer in the face of adversity. When you see a friend tossing around homophobic slurs or sexist remarks, the call to #V33Better falls unto you.
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