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Sparks Fly

Two high school best friends, gay and straight, grow up to celebrate their 2-year relationship anniversary

By Ratziel San Juan Published Feb 28, 2023 4:31 pm Updated Feb 28, 2023 4:34 pm

Speaking from experience rather than science, it is part of gay culture to have fallen in love with a straight boy at some point in your adolescent life.

Call it the "queer experience"—a rite of passage before you find assurance and acceptance in your own identity.

I don't make up the rules, as every gay friend I have seems to tell variations of the very same story.

But those tales are for them to tell and them alone. Instead, I'll share mine.

This guy's in love with you, pare

Thank God we never called each other "pare," "dre," "tol," or the dreaded "bro."

For that fact alone, I was never officially "brozoned." This refers to a friendzone alternative where a guy who doesn't reciprocate your feelings sees, treats, and calls you like a brother—whether you're a boy, girl, or any other gender.

I did invent a pet name for him. A nickname that close friends continue to call him a decade later.

The author with his high school friends

Our story, much like many others, began several generations ago in high school.

He was a "soft boi." I didn't like girls. Can I make it any more obvious?

Not to be defensive, but it's not hard to understand how someone could fall for him.

He was as attractive as dorks could get: light complexion, chubby cheeks, gentle eyes, thick eyebrows, wavy locks, and a great smile. That was ages ago, but he still looks exactly the same—height and all.

Best of all, he wasn't a jerk like the other "cishet" alpha males asserting their fragile dominance (maybe to compensate for how their parents never really loved them).

That's an understatement, really, as he was nice to everyone, including but not especially me.

He was also my introduction to how straight guys can like content traditionally associated with or marketed toward girls and gays.

I kid you not, one of the biggest reasons why I expected to have any chance with him was the fact that he watched Glee.

To contextualize for today's Gen Z gays, this was years before terms like "toxic masculinity" were even popularized. My high school self didn't know what patriarchy meant, or understand that nuances existed between gender and sexuality.

Back then, I was simply enchanted—and I definitely hoped for more.

Pare, mahal mo raw ako?

The writing was on the wall.

Even as early as high school, I was living in a "glass closet." Everyone knew I was gay and that I liked my best friend even before I knew or acknowledged those facts for myself.

I only officially outed myself, however, to the most trusted friends, including some ex-girlfriends who would become girl friends.

Yes, I had entered heterosexual relationships hoping that I could become straight or at least turn out to be bisexual so as to avoid a feared future of societal judgment.

Although we never dated, I still considered the aforementioned boy to be my first love—or more accurately, my first heartbreak.

Thank God we never called each other 'pare,' 'dre,' 'tol,' or the dreaded 'bro.'

I'm pretty sure he knew as well or found out later at some point in his life.

Nothing changed or became awkward, fortunately. Maybe it's because after graduation and moving onto our respective colleges and careers, I realized that he was nothing more than an idea I could get used to.

I discovered my ideal type, which I gradually revised through trial-and-error dates and failed relationships, until I finally found "the one."

It takes a man and a woman

My partner is everything I would want and desire in a person. Smart, sexy, and successful—a real man. One that inspires me to become the best, authentic version of myself.

Though I have to give credit to my old friend for shaping my expectations about love and teaching me about what SOGIE could be.

Imagine that, a straight boy being a walking, talking example that everyone has SOGIE even if they are straight. In his case, he likes girls (sexual orientation), identifies as and is male (gender identity), and enjoying anything unapologetically like the fruity show that is Glee (expression).

He also found someone.

I don't know her personally and we've never met in person, but I can tell from his stories and her posts that she is perfect. Smart, sexy (not that I would know, but probably from his perspective), and successful. A real woman.

Not that I ever stood a chance, but I consider her a worthy adversary. Someone I would actually want for him.

To be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if they soon get married and have kids. Call it brotherly instinct.

My high school self knew that a girl would come one day to steal him. Away. From me. As I sang Adele's Someone Like You in the background.

"Never mind, I'll find someone like you/I wish nothing but the best for you, too."

And I did. I simultaneously found the love of my life, while supporting my friend and his.

My boyfriend (husband, if only separation of church and state was a thing in the Philippines) and I recently celebrated our second anniversary as a couple.

The author and his current partner

We posted our milestone on social media that day. You can imagine my shock when they did too.

When I wrote "simultaneously" above, I meant it.

And that, kids, is the true story of how I didn't end up with my straight high school best friend, but still ended up celebrating the exact same anniversary date together.