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PRIDE MONTH IN ESPORTS: It’s our girl, BeefMami: life, esports, and divine feminine energy

“A lot of people in esports or the people that I meet now are surprised that I am in... Paolo | 10. June 2024

“A lot of people in esports or the people that I meet now are surprised that I am in a relationship with a woman or I identify as a lesbian. Because I don’t look lesbian. Just because I don’t have, like, short hair and the usual look, right? Now, again, that’s me embracing my femininity, knowing that, okay, I do like pink. You know, I actually really do like pink.”

This is what Alliana “BeefMami” Liongson answered when I asked her a question about her own experiences as a proud and out member of the LGBTQIA+ community in the esports and gaming scene. 

BeefMami inspired a generation of broadcast talent – myself included – when she first hit the airwaves as a caster for Call of Duty: Mobile and Garena Free Fire back in 2021.

It all just snowballed from there. This Filipina-American talent just became the face and voice of Southeast Asian CODM to the world, representing the Philippines and becoming part of several World Championships for COD Mobile.

Yup, she was there when Tribe beat Luminosity, she was there when Blacklist International requested her to do the ocho-ocho dance on the global stage.

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BeefMami hosting a Warzone Mobile Live Event. (Photo courtesy of Alliana Liongson)

But BeefMami carried three flags in her years in worlds, she says. The flag of the Philippines, the LGBQTIA+ flag, and the flag of women in esports.

These are flags she carries everytime she steps on the stage, puts on a headset, and delivers mind-blowing commentary and analysis of the oftentimes chaotic but thrilling action in Call of Duty.

“I think BeefMami as a caster is someone who is just genuinely having fun in what they’re doing and bringing along everyone for the ride,” she tells me when I asked about her own style. 

“Like one of the most, I guess one of the best compliments I’ve had as a caster from someone is not by the fluency of my voice, not by the tone of my voice, but the fact that I was able to reel them into the conversation and they said that I look like I had so much fun, like seeing a caster be passionate and actually enjoy what they’re doing was something I apparently translated to that person and to multiple people actually,” citing a common friend of ours, Maoi Carlos, as one of the people who gave her these types of compliments.

“Shout out to you, Ate Mao! She said that she genuinely saw my excitement and that made her excited as well. So having that infectious excitement and thrill of casting the game is definitely something that a lot of people will see. It’s because I am having an entirely good time. I’m having a really, really great time casting. I love the game.”

BeefMami’s love for the game and her crazy fun personality that’s outspoken goes deeper than just playing Call of Duty.

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BeefMami shooting content for her ESL Snapdragon stint in Poland. (Photo courtesy of Alliana Liongson)

“I was so into the more boyish things, but I also know some girls that were into the same thing as me but are actually straight,” BeefMami says. “And so I don’t think it was a big thing for me to be into these masculine pastimes, and that’s why I am gay.  But, again, there’s a lot of things in gender that are definitely, like, a different topic. But growing up, I did have a lot of male influence as well, because a lot of my cousins that are my age were playing these games such as Call of Duty, which now is actually my career as a Call of Duty mobile caster, a Warzone caster as well. I feel like that transition from me playing casually and doing it professionally as a caster is something that is actually a pretty smooth transition, because I love the game.”

And while BeefMami loved the game and learned at an early age that she wasn’t straight, she says, the fun personality that we hear every time she’s on the microphone is because she is surrounded by strong, independent, and loving women who love her for who she is. Among them: her mother, aunts, and her grandmother.

“Even my own mom, like I didn’t come out to her. I literally just told her, yeah, when I date people, I don’t really care about their gender. And one day, I just brought home a girlfriend and was like, hey, mom, it’s my girlfriend, like that,” Beef recounts.

“She was very chill about it. Again, I’m in a very good spot, privileged spot, to say that my parents accepted me like, right off the bat because we went through a lot of hardships as a family. So me being gay wasn’t a big deal. There are a lot of bigger problems. Not that being gay is a problem, but some people do view it as a problem. So it was definitely like a limbo where my mom kept on asking me, “are you sure you’re gay? Are you sure you don’t want to try dating guys? Maybe you just need to date like this one.” I’m like, “no, I really don’t want dick.”

“I know lesbian is a term, a label. But for me, I think the most accurate is I just love femininity. Divine feminine energy. Because I was surrounded with such strong, empowering women growing up… so it was so attractive to me to see that in a woman. So that’s why I always like, model my partner to be a strong, independent woman.”

“With my relationships, I think that’s where I see the harder side of being gay, being queer,” BeefMami says. “My family, they’re very accepting and I’m very lucky to have them. But usually the people I date, their families are not so forgiving to the point where things got so rough with one of my relationships that they’ve had to run away.”

 

“So for a time but again, it’s just like always swept under the rug and I’ve always had to compensate in a way that, ‘here you can come to my family, you are welcomed here, I can provide a safe space for you.’ Sometimes, it does get tiring because the what-ifs always come up like what if their family was more accepting, would it feel a little bit more normal and all the relationships that I’ve had are serious, have been with women. So usually, long-term because I’m really someone who likes to be in stable relationships that I think.”

She adds, “My mom and my grandmothers were really strong because a lot of the time, problems caused by men, unfortunately… but in the context of me and my family, a lot of the problems arose because of men cheating, or men just not delivering, and a lot of toxic masculinity. So I really looked up to my mom because she really stepped up as a mother when my dad and my mom separated. So yeah, I think that’s probably one of the biggest reasons why I was so confident and so comfortable knowing that my mom will accept me no matter what because we went through hell and back as a family.”

 

BeefMami on set for her ESL Snapdragon stint in Poland. (Photo courtesy of Alliana Liongson)

BeefMami on set for her ESL Snapdragon stint in Poland. (Photo courtesy of Alliana Liongson)

 

And as if that wasn’t enough, BeefMami also had to prove to a society that doesn’t necessarily like failures that she can succeed.

An opportunity arose for her to start her career in esports, which meant she needed to leave university studies to pursue full-time freelance esports work.

“So for that period of me dropping out of college, because esports was becoming big, it was eating up a lot of my time and I could not juggle doing online classes and flying out to certain countries to do esports. So I was at the tipping point where I had to choose, do I really want to have a diploma or do I say yes to this life-changing opportunity that may never come again? And I’ve always been one to take risks, no matter what.”

“Lockdown. I could not do anything. And the only thing that I could use for copium was to play video games. It was like a reset, which was honestly one of the best things that ever happened to my life because I feel like if the world didn’t slow down, the path that I have now would be different,” BeefMami says. 

“That’s why being gay for me is just… I like being gay. Here’s the thing. I really like it because I feel like it makes you stronger because you’re not always welcome. Every single day I’ve had to kind of just tiptoe around certain people. Are they going to accept me? Is it okay that I talk about certain things? I still feel that now. And finishing college, or not finishing college, I feel like it was another blow because if you’re gay, it feels like you have to prove something for people to take you seriously.”

 

BeefMami on set for her ESL Snapdragon stint in Poland. (Photo courtesy of Alliana Liongson)

BeefMami and the author on the desk of The Nationals Call of Duty Mobile Philippine Open in 2022.

But now, her list of achievements may have silenced any doubters. In her first few months of casting alone, she jumped right on top of regional COD Mobile gigs, working alongside her veteran partners, Coach Jericho Ambulo and Anthon “The Mustachio” Jermayne, for broadcasts on the Garena regions. She is only one of four female casters to have been officially on the call for Garena broadcasts in any way, shape or form, the others being Fasya “FasyaBunny” Ibrahim, Sabi “Wasabi” Fernan, and Andi “RedQueen” Lopez.

While she has enjoyed the limelight and the thrill of it all though, BeefMami says, she is officially taking a break from casting to pursue other projects.

“At the time of writing, this is an indefinite hiatus to shoutcasting because I found the love for hosting,” BeefMami told Fragster for the first time officially.

When asked why, she simply said, “because I feel like I’m not efficient in my storytelling with casting. I have grown to love hosting because it gives me enough time to craft a story. With shoutcasting, you’re on the fly. Some people can make up a story, make it sound really nice, make it sound super grand, which I feel like I did have the ability of that to think quickly on your feet but it would be so tiring after.”

“I like taking my time, I like hosting because I have enough breaks to think about something, to think about what to say next. In shoutcasting afterwards, ask any caster, you just feel so mentally drained that you can’t do anything afterwards or barely do anything afterwards,” she said.

“With me shoutcasting, I can’t be a content creator. I can’t make stories. I find the joy in life when I make these stories, when I edit, when I shoot. Again, I am a storyteller at heart.”

 

She also says a host of other factors contributed to this decision.

“I do want to say about the pay, because me leaving casting is essentially me saying goodbye to really good money. Because at least internationally, living in the Philippines. So I would earn in USD, spend in (Philippine) Peso. So that’s why I’m able to kind of do what I’m doing now because of that one reason: because of the savings that I had from previous casting gigs and investments. Because of casting.” 

“So essentially esports really did change my life. Because before that, I’m not rich, man. I am privileged enough to have a roof over my head. To have family that is willing to look out for me and my sisters, my family members, right? But I have lived in a very difficult position financially before I entered esports. So I’ve always been hard working in terms of trying to come up with money. I was a freelancer since 2015.  So I’ve been a freelancer for 10 years in production, right? Doing random shitty jobs. But now that I’ve finally had a taste of really good money from esports and saying no to it is such a… you could say that it’s a dumb move but I’m just so empowered by wanting to do content creation that I’m willing to say no to a big amount of money.”

“That’s how I am as a person. If I truly, truly, truly believe in something and that is storytelling then I will fight for it no matter what, and so that’s why I stepped back.

Because also there’s a shift happening right now in esports where there are constant layoffs. And very questionable moves from huge companies in esports. I will not name drop any company but questionable moral moves that I just do not agree with. And that’s probably one of the reasons why,” she says.

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BeefMami during a content shoot. (Photo courtesy of Alliana Liongson)

And for this, BeefMami says, she wants to go back to her core strength: making films and documentaries. In the past few months, she has released two as an up-and-coming filmmaker: one focusing on Maiwand “Vague” Zai and his journey of being an esports villain in Call of Duty Mobile, and the second one focusing on women in esports.

“For me, my medium is actually film. It’s production – that is my bread and butter. Casting just became like, hey, I’m actually good at talking.” 

“For me, just talking about the deeper things in certain topics, which sometimes I can’t do in casting because you have to be unbiased. I mean, in journalism, yes, you have to be unbiased, right? But there are some topics that you just stay in the game. You just talk about the game. I want to talk about more than games.”

And it is these advocacies of women empowerment, equal opportunities for her fellow members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and making people aware of important social issues that she wishes to do as a filmmaker and content creator.

It is that second documentary about women in Esports that BeefMami wants to bank on if given the chance to do her documentaries on a bigger scope and coverage, similar to how ESPN and TheScore Esports do their documentaries.

“I do think that accepting women, creating a safe space for women and people who are basically marginalized genders – so again, I fall into that umbrella. It’s actually one of the best things that you can do for esports,” BeefMami says. “Right now, it’s in shambles because you’re also isolating half or more than half the population and you’re catering towards toxic masculinity. And if we just find a way for esports to be more welcoming, then I think a lot of the problems would disappear because you’re also inviting a lot more viewers, a lot more people who feel more welcome. And if your counter-argument is like, oh, maybe the homophobes will leave and stop watching, then let them leave.

I do honestly believe you are outnumbered by good-hearted people. People who are more accepting,” BeefMami says.

“Gaming is actually non-gendered. You’re not better because you’re a boy or a girl. It’s because men tend to be better in the video game because they’ve played longer because it was marketed towards men way longer. So kind of like the same thing. When you’re a makeup artist, you’re not better because you’re a girl – it’s because women have been marketed with makeup for a long time. So we’ve had a long time to perfect something like that. Now, the gap is closing. Again, it doesn’t really matter what your gender is in gaming. I truly, truly believe that. And your sexuality does not matter at all. It shouldn’t matter at this point,” she adds.

And BeefMami is slowly proving to everyone that success is non-gendered as well. Most recently, she has delved back into Battle Royale, having been tapped for two seasons as a desk host for Farlight84 tournaments. She has been traveling the world and has made content for the main Call of Duty as part of the hosts for last year’s CODNext event. She has also been part of V1 Productions Incorporated, a motion picture and stills production company – the latter of which is definitely her natural habitat as she has had significant experience as a cinematographer, video editor and photographer for various local bands in the Philippines. She occasionally also goes out of the country for assignments with UnGeek, one of the Philippines’ most renowned websites for gaming, anime, entertainment and tech websites.

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BeefMami with Pica Lozano, Laurise “Beebimbapp” Martinez, Lyka “Lykable” Mea, Jericho Ambulo, and the author on the set of The Nationals Call of Duty Mobile Philippine Open in 2022.

She is also currently in a relationship, something that she continues to keep private despite being one of the more visible LGBTQIA+ personalities in local and global esports.

“I am in a very happy relationship and we’ve been dating for two years now,” she says. “She always brings me down to earth. She brings me back to the reality of the situation.

I did live in the US for a while. I am a US citizen and so I know being gay in America, we still have some things to fight for, but at least gay marriage is legal. We have rights.

“That’s the only thing that is important for me is that we have rights as human beings to just love who we want. It’s not even about you. It’s the same as divorce right? It’s not about you. It’s about my right if I’m dying on a deathbed and if I have no family, I want this person who I love so much to create decisions for me. But because I can’t own it, I have to buy property, it’s not going to be granted,” she says about the harsh realities of being a Filipina in her home country that still has not legalized same-sex marriages and even divorce.

“My current one is a hella gamer. Hella gamer. She’s more of a gamer than me. I’m going to be honest with you. She loves to play Valorant. She’s been a big influence on me as a gamer because she’s just so fun to play with. She has a true heart of a gamer ever since she was young and she even I can’t say it,” she says.

And it is these series of last long quotes, edited for brevity and clarity, and delivered passionately as a response to my question on advising queer gamers out there, that she wants to tell her fellow members of the LGBTQIA+ community who are also into gaming – and to close this interview.

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(photo courtesy of Alliana Liongson)

 

“You need to find a way to surround yourself with good people. That’s one of the biggest reasons why I am so comfortable in being myself is because I’m surrounded with people who are okay with me being the way that I am. There’s nothing wrong with you. Absolutely nothing. You are beautiful. You are loved. You are accepted by this community that we have here. And even if the people at home say otherwise, you can always find home in other people and other spaces.”

“You have the choice. You have the choice to choose the people that you surround yourself with. You can achieve everything that you want in life.”

“Be proud of who you are. That’s the reason why it is Pride Month and pride not being the negative connotation that the church or whatever culture has said, but pride in a way that you are yourself. You are not sorry about being yourself. Take it as a badge of honor. I am the way that I am because I like women. I like femininity. It shouldn’t define who I am. My gender, my sexuality shouldn’t define who I am wholly as a person.

It is a part of me, an important part of me that if you are surrounded by really good people will not matter too much. You’d actually be surprised with how mundane it could actually feel.”

“Also know, please also be kind to other people who don’t understand, who don’t have the same upbringing as us. Who are maybe in level 0 in understanding what the LGBTQIA+ means. That’s why I’m not aggressive when it comes to being preachy about someone I know who will be uncomfortable with it. It’s because their whole entire life, they were educated that this is wrong. That’s a sin. You have to understand them also.

I know it has to be a two-way road, but you fighting them will not help the cause for people who are queer. We can do it in a more peaceful and diplomatic way. But I’ve always found it to be very successful to educate people first and to not be so offended unless it’s warranted. Unless someone literally punches me in the face. I’ve known so many people who were homophobic growing up and then suddenly understanding people because their best friend was suddenly gay. They understood. Again, you’re not a lost cause, right? Just because you’re afraid of someone, you talk to them. You give them a reason to understand slowly, gently, that you are a normal human being that deserves to be loved, that deserves to have the same rights as you.”