January 11, 2014
Being in a relationship is tough. Having a partner of the same sex is tougher. There's no difference actually between being in a homosexual or heterosexual relationship but the difference is made by the norms set by the society. Males are expected to carry out certain romantic activities with females as set by the invisible rules that govern the intricate web of social interaction. When these expectations are not met, if these activities are carried out with another male within the context of romanticism, then both individuals are considered to be exhibiting behaviors of deviance as both are straying from what is accepted by the society. Alienation to a certain degree will surely be met by the two. Why should be these two alienated? Why is there a segregation between the sects of the society?
When two guys are in a theme park together, what would you think? Would you think of them negatively even though they are not harming you in any way you could think of? It's sad that I would have answered yes.
Last weekend, I and partner have finally pushed our plan through to spend a day in Enchanted Kingdom in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. We've been planning this for months already but unfortunately time and money became roadblocks for this plan to be fulfilled. We saw an opportunity last week and we grabbed the opportunity right away. I scored some discounted tickets while both of us were free for that day so everything was set and ready to go. What could go wrong anyway? It's just a day at a park. No one could stop us before as we have already set our hearts on finally enjoying some rides the nationally famous theme park has to offer.
Nothing went wrong. Techinically. But, oh boy, the first step through those gates was a big wake up slap at the face.
Families everywhere. Big smiling happy families from every corner can be seen. It looked like a public school from Manila took a field trip and Enchanted Kingdom was one of the itineraries. Not to mention that there was an international organization whose members decided to drop by and join in the fun. Loud and screaming children run to and from, their giggles quite infectious and their energy levels quite something to be envious of. Heterosexual couples can be seen from every path taking selfies of themselves to immortalize the moments. The sun was high yet the cold wind unmistakably sent shivers as it passed through me. I'm not sure if the shivers were caused by the wind or caused by the sinking feeling I had as I realized that I was a fish out of water in this whole wide theme park. The families were a reminder of something that I cannot have given the Philippines' general outlook on homosexuality and children raised by same sex couple. Given that the Philippines is predominantly a Catholic country, there is little hope that partner and I will be able to raise a child (adoption would be great so that we could give love to a homeless child that needs it) and see him or her grow up and be proud parents ourselves. Given how same-sex couples are being frowned upon by the more traditional members of the community, partner and I can't take pictures of ourselves without raising the brows of the conservatives.
"Kunan kita ng picture," Hey let me take a picture of you, partner said.
"Wag na nakakahiya naman magpicture sa Enchanted ng solo," No, thanks. It's embarrassing to have my picture taken alone in a theme park, I replied as I looked longingly at this guy who was hugging her girlfriend while giving her a peck at her forehead.
"Sige, mamaya na lang. Kunan kita picture," Okay, but I'll take a picture of you later.
We went to the end of the line for the Flying Fiesta. I was quite nervous as I consider this a thrill ride (yes, I'm that afraid of the small rides). As the we were nearing the end of the line for our turn, partner suddenly said, "O, baka gusto mo dun pa tayo sa magkatabing upuan. Hahahhaahh," O, you might be thinking of getting ourselves seated together. Hahahaa, in a tone unmistakably telling me that we shouldn't.
I was thinking of that same thought as well. I wouldn't be caught sitting with another man in Flying Fiesta. It's too... unacceptable. Hey, what am I thinking?
"Hindi no," No way, I told him.
When our turn came, we had ourselves seated, him sitting beside the chair(?) in front of me. He looked back at me and smiled. As our chairs were lifted by the machine and we were sent flying up in the air circularly, I gripped the rails of my seat tightly and my eyes closed shut. I took a peek every once in a while during the ride and wished I hadn't. I had my sunglasses on but I believe partner knew my eyes were closed and I heard him laugh. I looked. He looked back. "Hinga ka naman dyan," Hey, take a breath, he said.
As my hands were tightly gripped around the rails, I wished it was his hands I was holding.
The ride ended and we went directly to Rialto. The line was long and it was barely moving as the ride takes roughly around six minutes every batch. We decided to line ourselves despite of the conditions. While waiting for our turn, I took notice of two guys seemingly enjoying themselves.
"Ui, magpartner ba yun?" Hey are those two a couple? I asked.
"Mukha nga," Seems like it, he said.
His words were left hanging up in the air as I pondered. It seems embarrassing to be caught in a theme park with another guy. What would people think? Why am I even thinking this? Am I not with another guy in the very same place? Shouldn't I be happy for them instead of thinking negatively towards the two guys? Of all people, why am I the one not actively supporting them in the sidelines?
Am I not playing in their team?
I subtly took a few pictures of partner along the day. Even the pictures were reminiscent that both of us were conforming to the norms of the society to a certain degree. We were not seen together in the pictures we took and if you look at the shots, you would think one went to Enchanted Kingdom alone. Pictures will be uploaded with no traces of presence of the other. Again. Again.
We passed by the two guys for a few times and I always catch them in the corner of my eye. They seem to be not caring of what people might think. They may not be holding hands, hugging each other or giving each other some pecks on the cheek or the forehead but they did look sweet as they were. I looked at partner and wished that some day a life will be lived without any concern of what people might think. I quickly dreamed of life of acceptance and absence of bigotry.
"Why are the kisses infrequent?" I asked him out of the blue.
"E, public naman kasi bunso," We're in public, he replied. My face fell. He took notice.
"Tara sa ferris wheel. We'll get a bit of privacy there," Let's take the ferris wheel, he said.
"Mamaya na lang. Habang fireworks," Later during the fireworks will be great, I said suddenly excited.
A little bit reassured, we spent the remaining hours of the day trying out the rides, I blatantly trying to steer him away from the space shuttle, him trying to win a stuff toy from some of the booths, and I stealing a hug during that makeshift horror house (in hindsight, it was not that scary). The sun fell and the moon and stars lit the night.
We went to the Ferris wheel when the scheduled fireworks neared. Unfortunately it was closed during the fireworks display for safety reasons. The perfect scene of stealing the much awaited kiss atop the Ferris wheel while watching the fireworks display came crashing down. As an alternative, I told him I wanted to take a ride at the Swan Lake. We went and had ourselves lined up. Once again, as our turn near, the magic words came from his mouth. "O, magkahiwalay tayong swan ha." Hey, we're going to take different swans okay?
I nodded in silence reminding myself that this is how my relationship should be. I comforted myself thinking that a day will come where we will be taking seats next to each other next time we go to a theme park.
I was motioned by the ride coordinator to take my place when my turn came. Surprisingly, partner went as well and seated next to me. My heart fell and went badump. We pedaled the swan towards the slightly more secluded area. Boy, was it tiring. Playfully, I tried to steer the swan towards the makeshift falls trying to make my partner wet and be wild and he laughed trying to fight off my hand. I looked around and mostly I saw couples trying to have fun. We were the only two guys sharing a swan and I didn't mind. All I can see is him, the swan, the lake, the stars, and the moon.
"Hey, the fireworks are about to start," I said.
Surely, the colorful display of fireworks lit the sky erasing the doubts and worries I had earlier that day. I stole a glance, looked at the fireworks, and smiled. This surely beat the scene I dreamed being at the top of the Ferris wheel.
I might not know the exact reason why there should be a separate subtle divide between the sects of the society but I believe that someday people will accept that sexual orientation is never composed of merely black and white. I reminded myself that the society is not ready for us but in time they will. Slowly yet surely. The important thing is that the both of us have accepted ourselves, our relationship, and we may be living in a world of our own but a world where bigotry is absent. I realized that as I ask for acceptance, I should be more supportive of those who are in the same relationship as I am in. I suddenly remembered the two guys and wished them the best of this world. That they stay happily together, defeating the stereotypes that same sex relationships are short-lived. Someday, we will be building a family we could call our own and enjoy the rights everybody else enjoy.
As the fireworks continued and as I was handling the steering stick of the swan, I felt his finger traced my hands and took a finger. His finger held mine tightly. I didn't look as I immortalized the scene in my mind. The colorful sky danced in my head. His finger still held mine and a touch forever imprinted on my skin. The night bugs can be heard faintly behind the sounds of the booming firecrackers and I smelled his scent, a scent I loved and lingered. The cold night breeze made the trees above us sway, the rustling sounds made everything romantic. The air as free as it can be.
Someday, every love will be like air, forever free as it should be.