E-sports in the Philippines has gone beyond being just a hobby to becoming a professional and respected medal sport transcending on a global scale. The country is at its prime in this sports category as Filipinos are also ready to display their talent on the virtual playing field— one of which is the 28-year-old, Johnmar “OhMyV33nus” Villaluna.
OhMyV33nus consistently shatters the long walls of barriers of the commonly cis-het, male-dominated world of e-sports by carrying the title of the openly gay team captain and support main of the notorious multi-gaming organization in the Philippines, the Blacklist “BLCK” International.
The grim truth inside the gaming industry
Photo courtesy of ONE E Sports.
Contrary to the unadorned reality we live in today, the aversion by which SOGIE falls under the “uncommon” impedes their potential, particularly in the male-dominated environment of sports. Consequently, when they reach success, society’s constructed gender barriers unleash a tremendous amount of resentment on them.
The pro player has been critical of media that portrays LGBTQ+ people as one-dimensional characters, with no depth or nuance. In an interview with CNN Philippines, he said, “We need to be careful not to perpetuate harmful stereotypes. It’s important to show the complexity of LGBTQ+ identities and experiences.”
Being the first openly professional queer player of Mobile Legends: BangBang Professional League Philippines, OhmyV33nus has had a fair share of struggles in the gaming sphere.
In 2021, a fellow MPL PH player, Duane “Kerla” Pillas of Omega Esports, made homophobic slurs to the professional player. This rightfully sparked an outcry from fans and other MPH PL figures and led to Pillas’ suspension. The same year, OhMyV33nus got subjected to homophobic remarks during his live-streamed match during the Bren Esports-Blacklist International match, to which the E-sports community quickly retaliated.
The E-sports player has addressed these behaviors in a lengthy Facebook post stating how he stands up to fight not just to simply win the game, but also to be to represent each member of the community— especially holding the responsibility of a pro player, leader, and a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
The representation of gender and developing communities in video games has always been receiving harsh criticism as playing can be linked to having restrictive or stereotypical ideas of gender roles and expectations. The experience became the stepping stone of OhMyV33nus’ personal advocacy of #BreakTheCode, which aims to raise awareness and collectively change the prejudice against the LGBTQ+ community in the industry.
Constructing an all-inclusive and safe gaming space
Since coming out, OhmyV33nus has established himself as a key advocate for LGBTQ+ inclusion in the gaming sector. On his social media platforms, he frequently discusses LGBTQ+ topics and uses his position to advocate for acceptance and inclusivity.
His participation in the Rainbow Six Siege Philippines Pro League has been one of his most important achievements in the gaming industry. He participated in the event as the first openly gay player in 2019 and has since risen to prominence in the Rainbow Six Siege community. Being LGBTQ+ is not a barrier to success in the gaming industry, as demonstrated by his achievements, and he has motivated many other LGBTQ+ gamers to follow their ambitions.
The bond among the team, Blacklist International, is already at a familial level. The boys have made it clear that they are a family rather than merely a team, encouraging each other to reach the summit of success so they may support their own families by turning their passion for the game into successful careers.
Dynamic duo V33Wise, consisting of captain OhMyV33nus and Wise, has carried the team to victory given that they had been longstanding comrades on their previous team, Onic Philippines. The duo has been very vocal about their well-built pillars of mutual understanding between them, becoming each other’s source of inspiration— not just as teammates but also as romantic partners.
OhmyV33nus has also made a point of advocating for increased LGBTQ+ representation in the gaming sector. He thinks that since video games have the ability to shape how people perceive the world, it is critical that LGBTQ+ characters are presented favorably. He stated in an interview with Esports Insider, “It’s important for LGBTQ+ people to be seen as equals. Representation in games is a powerful way to achieve that.”
As shared by the team captain, Blacklist envisions a more open and inclusive gaming community. He emphasized the dire need to create an accepting environment where gamers of all gender may support one another in-game. Believing that everyone possesses the capacity for critical thinking, which is essential to gaming, the abilities required to be better players in esports are independent of gender, sexual orientation, or affiliation in the LGBTQ+ community.
Raising both the Philippine and rainbow flags
Photo via MPL Philippines.
Playing inside the virtual playground of a multiplayer online battle arena, Blacklist International has become the powerhouse of MPL PH after capturing series of crowns including the back-to-back MPL PH Championship for Seasons 7 and 8 and was followed by winning the M3 World Championship last 2021— all under V33’s leadership.
OhmyV33nus has also received praise for his work in the video game business. He was the first Filipino to receive the honor when he was named the Esports Personality of the Year at the Esports Awards in 2020. As one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Asia, he has also received recognition, and he has been profiled in a number of publications.
He shares all success with his team involving Dexter “DEX STAR” Alaba, Kiel “Oheb” Soriano, Danerie James “Wise” Del Rosario, Edward “EDWARD” Dapadap, and Mark Jayson “ESON” Gerardo.
His unequivocal force of raising both the rainbow and Philippine flag across e-sports can create strong waves of positive effects on eradicating the misconceptions and derogatory treatment of the LGBTQ+ in the gaming industry.
His dedication to promoting wise LGBTQ+ representation has earned him the respect and admiration of his fans and the wider gaming community that has transgressed boundaries. As a symbol of acceptance and inclusion, OhmyV33nus has demonstrated that anybody can be successful in the game business and have a powerful influence on the world, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.