Sassa Gurl is Mothering the New Generation of Queer Kids

Jun 30, 2023 0 comments

Making it big in the sphere of social media is a crucial part of every starting influencer. Well, these days, numerous personalities are, beyond a doubt, striving. But this queen works harder, like her life depends on it. Who, you say? None other than the mother herself, Sassa Gurl! 

She grew up being drawn to the culture of the streets, and now she’s giving back the wisdom to queer kids who seek representation and guidance from their battle-scarred sisters. You might have seen her viral TikTok videos on social media showing all kinds of relatable high school jeje skits and other shenanigans a group of friends deal with.

Who would have thought that in just a tad of years, the Princess and Chikana we knew and interviewed as she started her career would leave their mark in the industry? Honestly, we did! No one has done it like Sassa, the ultimate matriarch of queer kids. Like a mother, her top priority is the welfare of the said kids in the coming generation. Aspiring to inspire other queens, Sassa Gurl wants to make sure that she acknowledges from whence she came. From a mother in Chinese garter to a small content creator, she is now deemed the Baklang Kanal, who continues to wield her influence to inspire the movement in the community. 

In an exclusive interview with Metroscene, Sassa Gurl’s comedic banter colored the conversation, but it didn’t stop to highlight her wit, advocacies, authenticity, and protest that will be unraveled and nurtured. These qualities have led Sassa to conquer her childhood experiences of trauma, discrimination, and prejudice towards queer people and have given her what it takes to become the true mother she is today. Like a mother seasoned with years of experience and knowledge, you can’t help but peek into the cracks of the solidified spaces of this mother figure when she was just budding, small, and playing in the streets. Now, she is able to pass on the energy and power to the younger generation! 

Mother? Mother!

As our stylist skillfully dabs makeup on her face, Metroscene Mag asks her to share how she immersed herself in the character she portrayed in her previous shoots with other magazines. Sassa, who often graces the cover pages of magazines, says that most of her previous shoots are not far from what she does in real life, easing up the process of ‘getting in character’. 

“Today, nakita ko yung brief(ing) nila, I like it,” affirming her positive view of the shoot’s concept. Sassa says that it goes beyond the concept when we’re talking about the queer community. While she also wants to channel the energy of sisterhood in the shoot.

What it takes to be a mother

In our previous interview with Sassa, she detailed her perspective on the limelight and the public eye. Over a year ago, she said that she doesn’t want to be remembered as someone huge or life-changing, and she also expressed that she doesn’t need validation from people. If Sassa could talk to her younger self now, imagine her surprise. Little did she know that her perspective would slowly change when she was able to inspire and impact the course of events in the community, having to relate herself to a lot of queer people in the community. This has opened a lot of doors for others to be heard and seen.

Her message to her naksh*ts, who weren’t able to play Chinese garter or 10/20, paper dolls, or Barbie in their childhoods because of societal pressures, stirred the hearts of the people in the shoot. She explains that it is never too late for them; they could find communities where they could do these things freely, unlike the spaces that confined them. Hearing this feels like healing our bruised inner child.

“Alam mo, nurture kids na mae-enjoy nila yong mga ganyang bagay, not just the Chinese garter but also ‘yong queer knowledge, also pagiging educated sa ating komunidad,” she says. She highlights the value of having safe spaces and encourages people to build and nurture safe spaces for kids, for queer people, and for everyone. Sassa truly sounds very much like the matriarch she portrays in the shoot. The mother of inclusivity—we love to see it!

The representation of it all!

Growing up queer, Sassa Gurl wasn’t immune to the toxic culture of needing to come out to people. As a transgender woman, Sassa had to come out multiple times to her friends and family, saying that she was reliving the trauma of fearing setting her identity free. Once, she came out as gay and eventually found her truest self as transgender. Freeing and liberating, a feeling of catharsis had definitely sprung up within Sassa that led her to exclaim, “I’m still here, and I did it!” expressing the joy of having to survive a tremendous fight of discovering oneself.

Apart from having this feeling, Sassa Gurl intends to represent and give a safe space for the queer kids in this generation that face pressure, fear, and discrimination. It is also important to note that in order to feel safe in one’s space, representation and acceptance must be rooted in accountability that nurtures everyone. That’s so mother!

However, nurturing sisterhood and harmony within the community is not only Sassa’s call, but also to end the existing external hostility towards the community. “Pinapalo, binubugbog, pinapalayas, ‘yan yung mga ginagawa kadalasan,” Sassa said. And it’s true. Coming out to your family feels more like a chore and a responsibility that must be met for them, and if that ever happens, they’ll be quick to judge, and at the snap of a finger, the manifestation of fascism starts. Sassa Gurl doesn’t want that to happen, saying, “Kaya sa mga nakshie ko, dapat, if ever na hindi maganda yung environment or toxic yung environment niyo, you can hold that thought muna,” suggesting that they (queer kids) should prioritize their peace and safety. So, if you’re reading this and you haven’t come out yet, that’s okay! We’ll wait for you!

On Pride as a protest and sisterhood 

Living in this age as transgender, Sassa’s call is to push other queer people to immerse themselves in different areas where there are LGBT minority groups and/or organizations. This is giving emphasis to Mima’s fixation on giving a safe space for all the queer kinds and why we should prioritize looking out for each other. From one queer to another, the sense of responsibility must always be on top of their heads.

Painting the sky with all the colors in the rainbow, Sassa reminded us that pride remains a protest as the queer community battles social injustices daily. In her words, we’re not living in an ideal world, so we have to take care of each other, bolstering our sisterhood.

Political and social issues through the lens of a marginalized and oppressed community are treated with grit and the power to inculcate queer knowledge. She believes that queer knowledge is the latchkey to understanding the movement and struggles of the community. “Kailangan i-educate mo yung sarili mo in SOGIE, ganyan, same-sex marriage, and also yung mga discrimination tsaka prejudice,” she adds. 

“It's not just about being bakla lang na makulay; it's also being political,” she expressed. In our interview, she stresses the practices we have to unlearn through educating ourselves and learning the ABCs of the LGBTQIA+ community. For her, the community also serves as a channel to impart the knowledge of the ‘mothers’ to other future queers, treating the community as one big family.

Cradling her artistic potential

Beyond her mother role, this is yet another face of our Sassa Gurl as an artist. We did not expect our Mima’s new song would be added to our BGC inuman session playlist. Sassa in her Al James era, parading her Sassa Boi alter in her newest single, Maria Hiwaga. If you fancy Sassa Boi, let her hit you up! 

During our conversation in the shoot, Sassa happily shares with Metroscene Mag the concept behind Maria Hiwaga. She says, “...idea ko kasi do’n is matagal na, alam mo ‘yon, kini-queerbait ng mga straight ‘yong mga ganap na’ten. I think panahon na para mang straight-bait naman ako, ‘di ba?” In a male-dominated genre, Sassa paved the way and served as the initial gateway for queer artists who wanted to enter the world of R&B. This shows that queer artists can also thrive in a genre dominated by men. She also told Metroscene that singing in inumans and remembering by heart Skusta Clee’s songs are part of her culture—this is her roots. She also lives by her mantra that she doesn’t want to kill her artistic potential, and on her own words, “...kung naisip ko ‘yan, I think dapat lang talaga na gawin ko siya.” Her voice oozing with conviction. 

Your gender doesn’t hinder you to anything na gusto mong gawin, ‘di ba? Ito ‘yong ano, I think isa sa mga puwede nilang maging inspirasyon—aking mga kapwang kabaklaan na dapat pasukin den nila ‘yong mga bagay na sa tingin nila ay hindi nila puwedeng pasukin kasi bakla sila.

“So, yong idea na…sabinin na na’teng for the straight people na ang cringe makakita ng baklang nag ra-rap pero, in-embrace nila e, naaliw sila,” she says. This shows that people are becoming increasingly inclusive of queer talent even from the male populace. She proceeds to talk about the queer music climate in the Philippines, she says that there are only a few queer artists that tops the Spotify Charts.


Let the kids play!  

In the whole duration of our interview with Sassa we found a pattern; her answers always include the queer kids and the importance of shaping a safe future for them. It makes us believe that Sassa truly is befitting of her ‘mother’ role in our shoot. She says that discrimination is systemic, thus she faithfully believes that the community is like a family that is looking out for each other and relating it to the concept of the Chinese garter street game.  

Looking out for each other yun eh, kasi ‘di ba alam mo yun, meron kang baby, meron kang family…’di ba gagawa kayo ng mga make-believe ninyong family at mga team…So you look out for each other, and in the LGBT culture, ganon.

Sassa also shared that as a child, she used to be the queen of the streets by championing every game round with her female friends. Her role? Of course, she is indubitably the mother of her competitive babies. Well, the game’s positioning varies with age. When you’re older, you get to be the mother, but those who are younger get to be the babies whom the mother has to revive when they’re out of the game.

Take this: the Chinese garter game does not only mean a game for most of the queer people, at least for Sassa; it’s a great way to immerse yourself in an experience of fun and learning and actually be in the essence of the community. By playing, Sassa didn’t deny herself a specific, vital part of her life. She expressed, “Hindi lang yun yung nakakenjoy dun, eh. Hindi yung mismong laro, kundi yung culture na nagagawa sa community at saka alam mo yun, kapag mga chinese garter…kabaklaan talaga yan, ‘di ba? So, talagang malawak yung culture na nagagawa mo or nae-experience mo kapag nai-immerse mo yung ganitong mga laro.” 

This also goes to the community. The braver they get at winning the game, the more chances they have of becoming the mother!

Sassa Gurl is not just a baklang kanal, call her MOTHER!

Sassa Gurl mothered her way into her chosen path, with a lot of bravery and representation. But not only a single representation, but her repping the underdogs in the community—meaning, the Kanal queens out there are given the limelight because of Sassa’s kickstart. 

“Sa akin naman, dapat naman talagang i-represent ang bawat komunidad, and isa naman sa mga dapat i-representa ay ang kanal culture, ‘di ba? Kasi napakadaming ninakaw sa aming ideya na pinakinabangan sa mainstream media, pero hindi kami nabibigyan ng tamang credit,” She asserted. It’s a social responsibility for Sassa to retrospect on where her culture came from. From immersing herself to actually embodying a flamboyant characteristic, she is dubbed the Kanal Queen. 

It is not surprising that Sassa bagged the ‘mother’ role with her advocacies. She believes that every queer person deserves to be called a mother! And to that end, she does her part as a mother for the next generation to come. “It’s very…you know, MOTHERING!,” she uttered with so much vigor. 

The interview ended with Sassa affirming her truest form. Saying, “I am Sassa Gurl and I am MOOTHERRR!” 

Photography by Miggy Broño (@miggybrono_)
Art Direction by Mark Elwyn Baccay (@markelwyn)
Fashion Direction and Styling by Dave Arden (@Ardenstyleph)
Styling Assistant by Angela Correa (@itsangela_c)
Makeup by Mycke Arcano (@mycke.arcano)
Hairstyling by Lars Cabanacan (@larscabanacan)
Production Coordination by Chardy Baldoza (@Baldyosa)
Words by Mark Elwyn Baccay (@markelwyn)

Special thanks to our designers

ḢA.MÜ (@_ha.mu_)
LE NGOK (@le_ngok)
MONTECALVO CREATIONS (@montecalvo_creations)

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