Rarely do we see queerness through a romantic lens. Years of negative characterizations and stereotypes have reduced it into a caricature to laugh at and ridicule. On the streets and even in respectable offices, it’s used as an insult against people exhibiting characteristics and traits outside the gender norm.
Before the rise to fame of genres that center queer love such as boys’ love and girls’ love, queer relationships were largely seen as an impossibility. There even existed a notion that for a same-sex couple to be happy together, there must be some sort of transaction, as if a queer love’s only survival depends on what one of the partners could give.
This and other prejudiced misconceptions rob queer individuals of their chance of a "happily ever after"—and that shouldn’t be the case. We all deserve to equally experience love without fear of persecution. We don’t need to fully understand people’s relationships for it to be valid. Our comprehension should not be a prerequisite for our compassion.
To celebrate Pride Month, PhilSTAR Life met with loving queer couples that are challenging the norm and proving that love wins, always.
Noelle (she/her/they/them, 29) and AK (she/her, 30)
Noelle replied “cutie” to one of AK’s Instagram stories and the rest was history. What started as a friendly conversation blossomed into something more when Noelle developed feelings for AK. “Kasi ang charming niya, ta’s ang cute,” Noelle shared giddily.
During the time of our conversation, they were celebrating their third month as partners and planning the rest of their lives together, which includes getting married and starting a family. “Siya na talaga,” Noelle said with certainty. But since the country has yet to recognize same-sex marriage, they both see this as a crucial challenge in their future.
Noelle in particular hurts for the queer community. “Pare-pareho lang naman tayong nagmamahal, pero bakit mas may karapatan sila sa amin? Dapat pantay-pantay naman talaga, lalo na sa pag-ibig,” she lamented. AK agreed and she's hoping that everyone would be legally protected and have the chance to experience special moments like weddings.
This lack of legal recognition unfortunately also trickles down in seemingly small but significant details in their personal lives. AK, for instance, has loved ones who still believe that her bisexuality is just a phase. On the other hand, Noelle is constantly misgendered and without AK’s support, she would’ve continued to shrug it off, even if it made her uncomfortable.
Interestingly, both of them see these as an opportunity to educate people. “We should let them know, kasi if hindi naman natin sasabihin, hindi naman nila malalaman,” AK said. They both understand that the fight for gender-based equality is far from over, but they believe that queer people should always have courage and take up space.
Yomi (she/her, 31) and Dannica (she/her, 25)
Yomi was Dannica’s trainer in their previous jobs. They were also friends for more than a year before they started going out. At first, however, there was "no malisya" in Dannica’s actions towards Yomi—not in the flowers during Valentine’s Day nor in the dreamcatcher she gifted Yomi after a trip to Bataan. “Siya lang talaga 'yung nagbigay ng malisya,” Dannica playfully quips.
They have been together for almost five years. As a queer couple, however, building a love that lasts hasn't been easy. Although they're both unapologetically queer, there was a time when they struggled with some of their family member’s acceptance. Fortunately, they were able to work it out and now they are at the stage of their relationship where they are ready to settle down.
They have started purchasing properties, but without conjugal rights to protect them, they worry for their future. “It’s difficult to think about what would happen if something happened to me because I would want her to be taken care of,” Yomi opened up. She also emphasized that their right to build their little family is simply a legal right and not taking anything away from the norm.
Dannica shared the same sentiments. She recalled the different troubles they had to go through in owning properties as partners—troubles that heteronormal couples wouldn’t have to endure.
“I just hope to live in this country that I love, having no fear of what our future together would look like,” Yomi said. Like any other couple, all they want is to enjoy life together without having to deal with unfair treatment. Having been through a lot, but still getting stronger as a couple, Dannica wishes for equal rights for everyone.
Mark (he/him, 20) and Rod (he/him, 20)
It was their love for theater and art that bonded Mark and Rod. After auditioning and bagging the same role for a local play, they instantly clicked. It must’ve been serendipity because it was through meeting Rod that Mark remained positive after losing his Lola, while Rod learned how to love again after coming out of a long-term relationship.
At first, however, they kept their relationship a secret. It wasn’t out of shame or guilt, but simply to protect their privacy as a couple. Being brought up in a conservative environment, Mark found it challenging to open up about his partner. Fortunately, both of their parents turned out to be so supportive and accepting of their love.
Though they’re both still very young and barely entertaining the thought of marriage, they also understand the importance of legal options for same-sex partners. “Paano ba kami gagalaw sa bansang ito if ikasal man kami dito?” Mark asked. He even recalled a conversation with Rod’s mother who encouraged them to pursue family life abroad.
Like the rest of the couples, they are hoping for a better country that will treat everyone equally.
Byron (he/him, 32), Hanz (he/him, 43), and Jayson (he/him, 22)
Hanz and Byron had been together for fourteen years when they started dating Jayson. Now, they’ve all been together for two months, and like any other relationship, they also faced certain difficulties.
Being in closed polyamory in a largely conservative country comes with unique challenges. At first, they found it difficult to introduce their partners to their loved ones, particularly their families. Byron recalled how he lost a few nights of sleep, while Jayson admitted to being anxious prior to introducing his partners.
On the other hand, Hanz opened up about his fears regarding their dynamics. According to him, he is the "seloso" one, but like most new couples, they are figuring things out along the way. Byron also pointed out how the lack of examples to look up to makes it harder for them. “It’s twice as hard, but twice as fulfilling,” he said.
Identifying as queer in a country that merely tolerates it is already a challenge in itself, so it doesn’t escape them how their dynamics can be easily misunderstood by others. “It’s scary how the mindset of other people might affect how our families think,” Byron admitted. Even though they’re accepted, there is still that underlying fear that their loved ones might be dissuaded by others.
But as long as they are “three-gether” (a term they fondly used) and fostering healthy and open communication, they believe that everything will be okay.