First Hawaiian boys’ love movie ‘My Partner’ features Filipino actors, story influenced by Pinoy LGBTQIA+ movies

Last June 17, 2023, the first Hawaiian boys’ love (BL) movie flew all the way from The Aloha state to have its Philippine premiere. Why? Because the film has many Filipinos and Hawaiians of Filipino descent in the cast and crew, “We wanted to ensure that they were able to share the movie with their loved ones who do not live in Hawai’i,” says writer and producer Lance Collins whose family is from Batangas and Masbate.

Actor Alaka’i Lastimado, Jayron Munoz, writer and producer Lance Collins

“My Partner” stars Jayron Muñoz as Edmar, a high-performing Filipino student, and Kaipo Dudoit as Pili, a native Hawaiian student athlete standout. The movie, directed by Native Hawaiian visual storyteller Keli’i Grace and written by Maui judge and attorney Lance Collins, tells of how Edmar and Kaipo come to understand each other’s backgrounds and cultures amid their clashing peer groups. 

Set in rural West Maui, “My Partner” showcases many of today’s current issues. Writer Lance Collins, a Filipino who grew up in Hawai’i, reveals that the state’s former sugar plantations provided a basis for his story. He declares, “The now-gone, historic sugar plantations used racial difference as a way of controlling and managing the labor force over the decades. These plantation thought structures continue to divide us even though the struggles that Hawaiians and Filipinos in Hawai’i face result from the same global economic forces. The story aims to show how these forces can be resisted through solidarity and mutual aid and understanding.” 

“My Partner” was made through the “Pono Process,” which is described as a respectful and righteous filmmaking process. As such, engagement with stakeholders from Kanaka (native Hawaiians, those persons who descended from the aboriginal peoples of Hawai’i), LGBTQIA+, and environmental groups was employed. 

Director Keli’i Grace explains, “Because it (movie) deals with several highly-charged issues facing a small tightly-knit community, it was important to make sure that the communities we were representing felt that our depictions accurately reflected their own truths, so that we were telling their stories.” 

Watch the trailer below:

We asked writer and producer questions to know more about My Partner

Influences of the film

Being the first Hawaiin boys’ love story, what were the influences of the film?

In general, the great recent output of web based BL series from Thailand, Philippines, Korea and Taiwan all influenced the both the story and the telling. For the story, undeniably films such as Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa and Ang Lihim ni Antonio had an outsized influence. In the cinematography, the Thai web series I Told Sunset About You was a strong influence.

LGBTQIA+ community in Hawaii

Boys’ love usually have stories that are friendlier to the LGBTQIA+ community than what’s in real life, how accepting are the people in Hawaii to the gay community?

There is a range like the Philippines but I’d say that in someways there is more understanding and acceptance although those that have strong religious or ideological objections also are more vocal and intense in their opposition. Hawaii of course was the first place in the world to recognize a constitutional right to marriage for same-sex couples. All other courts in the world that have recognized such a right, as well as other constitutional rights protecting LGBTQIA+ reference that 1993 Hawaii Supreme Court case, Baehr v Lewin, or cases that rely on that case.

Casting the first Hawaiian boys’ love movie

How did the casting process go?

There were multiple casting calls that went out. People auditioned and sometimes multiple auditions were asked.

Hawaiians vs Filipinos

Was the story initially intended to feature Filipinos and Hawaiians?

Yes. The real conflict about overfishing of native goby (o’opu) in the newly restored streams in West Maui was between certain Filipino immigrants and native Hawaiians so that was the framework that everything else was hung from.

My Partner Part 2?

Would you consider continuing the story of Pili and Edmar?

Absolutely! Many young people in particular have asked, after screenings, whether Edmar goes to pilot school or if Pili studies to be an academic.

“My Partner” won the Audience Award at the 2023 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival and was selected for the 

KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival in Mumbai, India, and the BJX Bajío International Film Festival in Guanajuato, Mexico. 

Also, the movie recently got selected for the Mpumalanga International Film Festival in South Africa, Golden Isles Film Festival in Georgia, USA, and LGBTQ Unbordered International Film Festival. 

For more information and updates, follow My Partner Movie’s Facebook, TikTok and Instagram accounts and visit

Watch the Q&A portion of the Philippine premiere below:

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