A queer reading of Carlo Vergara's portrayal of the male homosexual persona in One night in purgatory and Ang kagilagilalas na pakikipagsapalaran ni Zsazsa Zaturnah

Date of Publication


Document Type

Bachelor's Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in Literature


College of Liberal Arts


Literature, Department of


Awarded as best thesis, 2005

Thesis Adviser

Ronald Baytan

Defense Panel Member

Gerardo Torres
Franchete Mangonon Punsalang


This thesis discusses and analyzes Carlo Vergara's portrayal of the male homosexual persona in his two books, One Night in Purgatory, published in 2001, and Ang Kagilagilalas na Pakikipagsapalaran ni Zsazsa Zaturnnah (2002, 2003), in primarily determining the success of Vergara in his goal of unstereotyping stereotypes of the bakla. This primary objective is further supported in the study by emphasizing that the male homosexual identity is not fixed, and that gender roles are socially constructed. Moreover, this paper also challenges the assumptions that the Philippine bakla is strictly compartmentalized within a heterosexist social formation.

Using the principles of queer theory, transgressive aesthetics, and camp as chiefly discussed in the writings of J. Neil, C. Garcia, Jonathan Dollimore, and Susan Sontag, the characters in the two comic books are analyzed in terms of their roles, interactions with other characters (male or female, heterosexual or homosexual), and dialogue. The books' plots, as well as the narrative modes used by Vergara in order to define and represent the male homosexual persona and the nature of male homosexuality, are also taken into consideration to see if they are supporting or challenging the established stereotyped constructs of male homosexuals in media, popular culture and society today. Furthermore, this study also tries to discern how male homosexuality is further complicated as it intersects with other subject-positions such as class and gender.

It is seen that Carlo Vergara is in fact successful in achieving his goal of unstereotyping stereotypes in his two comic books as he affirms the good in male homosexuality by creating male homosexuals as his lead characters in his two texts. Vergara also resists defining his characters through a template that is unmistakably conceptualized by prevailing, biased conventions, focusing on the ambiguity of his characters in terms of their characterization, comportment, and mannerisms in both texts. He disputes hackneyed notions of the male homosexual through this ambiguity, automatically challenging fixed notions of male homosexual identity.

Vergara is also evidently sensitive regarding the subject-position of class, by allowing it to complicate fixed notions of male homosexuality. He uses his comic books to portray lead characters that reside in the middle and upper classes (One Night in Purgatory), and in the masa bracket (Zsazsa Zaturnnah). Moreover, he further allows male homosexuality to cut across the boundaries of gender in his use of the Western-oriented idea of male homosexuality as masculine in One Night in Purgatory, and the traditional idea of the effeminate bakla in Zsazsa Zaturnnah.

Carlo Vergara further unstereotypes stereotypes as he spokes fun at and criticizes heterosexist, heterocentric norms of gender and sexuality, exposing the limits of these dominant beliefs through his use of camp in his two comic books.

Abstract Format






Accession Number


Shelf Location

Archives, The Learning Commons, 12F Henry Sy Sr. Hall

Physical Description

vii, 102 leaves ; 28 cm.


Vergara; Viscode Carlo San Juan; 1971-; Characters and characteristics in literature; Authors; Filipino

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