He is a boy; so am I.
He is white; I am the Malay kind of brown. He has freckles all over; I have blemishes, what feels like a hundred. He is taller by an inch. His eyes are green, reminding me of emeralds and jade, or of spring; mine are black, boring. He cannot stand danggit, binagoongan, or balut; I would have these foods any day. He is rich; my wallet is anorexic.
We do have things in common, like a love for pop culture, books and films. But we have a litany of differences—a slew of discernible ones, some tucked away, and a few so irreconcilable that they render a relationship almost impossible. He views things in a very basic construct; I see them in an infinitely more complicated, albeit convoluted, way. Thus the constant bickering over almost anything.
Being in a relationship is difficult. Being in a relationship with another man is grueling. Being in a relationship with another man from a different culture is a debacle. Being in a relationship with another man from a different culture who lives in the opposite side of the planet is just plain crazy.
The ball-busting difficulty is compounded by my choice to stay in the closet, cobwebs and all. My family and some friends may have an idea about my sexuality and may have speculated about it behind my back. I am pretty sure that they would love me nonetheless, but for some reasons I have felt compelled to keep it from them. Consider this then my coming-out story.
I have had my fair share of heterosexual relationships, but I always knew they were doomed to fail. I knew there was something wrong that I could not readily put my finger on. It was not as if I didn’t love the women with whom I was romantic. I think that during those times, I felt like I loved them, but I was not in love with them. I had a faint idea what the problem was, but I tried to keep it in, to shrug it off, hoping that one day it would just disappear.
I initially thought homosexuality is like everything else: something that wears off. I was proven very wrong when I met him: He helped me rearrange some notions of identity and sexuality in my head.
How we met is a story in itself. In summary, I was bored one day and found myself in a bookstore in which, coincidentally, he was aimlessly wandering. Between cracking books open and walking through shelves of paperbacks, eyes glazed, flirting ensued, and the overture of a homosexual-interracial relationship: a closet gay guy from Jungle Asia and a white male from America’s East Coast. It just happened, as it always does in any beautiful romantic story. Love affected us pretty much the same way as it affects anyone else.
Building the relationship is an exciting adventure, but staying in it isn’t the easiest. To start with, I never thought I would end up with a man, much less a very white American man. I had misgivings about the relationship, which caused a lot more strain than necessary. Furthermore, I have yet to contend with what my family and friends will say about it. Filipino is family, as you know. I am wrestling with society and the conservatives’ take on sexuality—the disinclination for a relationship outside of the boy-girl sort.
There is also the stigma attached to a relationship to which a Filipino and a white westerner are privy. The narrow-minded public perception of it masquerades as propriety. If a straight interracial partner has to contend with it, imagine what a gay interracial partner is facing.
When a Filipino is seen with a white person, the public automatically thinks of it as parasitic, one bleeding the other financially dry. Society has successfully fleshed out a culture that pokes fun at, or worse, treats such a relationship contemptuously. This has made me question my self worth and my capacity to love the person who had me smitten, and even the legitimacy of our love. I was a sliver away from believing that I was unworthy of love in whatever form because of what society thinks.
The election of US President Donald Trump has also taken its toll on our relationship, or at least has engendered some doubts about our future. It has sown some uncertainties. You see, as in any healthy relationship, marriage is also on the table. We talk about eventually tying the knot in America, where gay marriage is legitimate and celebrated in certain states. But the direction where Trump is taking America is worrisome in so many conceivable ways. We are looking at an America where gay people, especially a gay-immigrant-interracial couple, could be marginalized because of identity. All the progressive steps taken for the last decade toward gay civil rights could be trampled upon. These ideas scare us a lot, but probably a lot more than they need to.
On the surface, seemingly everything is against us. Our hope to be together is bogged down by distance and time, society and religion. I can’t even get started on his experience in the church, and the south, and the Republican religious right. But thank goodness love doesn’t know any history books, political affiliations, or religious dictates. This kind of love is the truest thing I know.
Yes, love wins. It really does. Our differences are never bigger than our hopes. Our problems will never be bigger than our perspective. We commit to each other in a profound way—no pretense, accepting each other despite the differences. In fact, we accept each other because of our differences. This is how it is supposed to be.
Love is predicated on inclusion and respect. Despite a myriad of differences, two people can still look beyond the obvious and just love each other more than they deserve to be loved.
This is how the world is supposed to be—a world where gender is just anatomy, where race is just a color, and where sexuality is no more than a biological imposition. This is how the world is supposed to be—a place where love is love. And because of him I know this to be unshakably true.
Marquin Mabazza, 28, says: “I’ve just come out to my eldest sister and am quite happy about the positive and supportive reaction.”
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