Editor’s Note: Beks or Beki is a Filipino colloquial term that refers to gay men. This is a story of a girl who loved a boy who loves boys.
We geared up for the high notes as we wait for the next song in the small videoke room. From the clear pane that divides our room from the next room, we saw a couple singing a duet, eyes glued to each other with an air of sensuality. He turned to me and looked into my eyes, as if confirming how we miserably fail in comparison
“Sana lalaki ka na lang (I wish you were a guy),” he said.
I just shrugged it off.
We met in 2009 in a campus organization. He was looking for new friends; so was I. One Friday night, we decided to go home together. We both loved talking and we did so for hours on end. By the time we had to say goodbye to each other, we knew we would be the best of friends.
It Started with a Kiss
March 24, 2010.
Somebody browsed through his cellphone’s gallery and I saw a photo of him kissing a guy I knew. My jaw dropped. How come he was gay? It upset me further that he did not tell me about it. I was unsettled. I could not pretend that I know nothing. Later that evening, we met at a fast food chain in Philcoa. I told him what I found out. He replied by forcefully pinching my cheeks in anger.
Two days later we didn’t kiss but we did make up. That incident became our best kept secret. It was a struggle. He wasn’t telling me more than what I know and I was not asking questions even if I wanted to know more. I used to have his undivided attention so it felt weird having to share it with other guys. Jealousy was building up, but I kept ignoring it.
He decided to “come out” at one org event. After a long time, our best kept secret wasn’t only ours to share. I learned about a love triangle involving him, his boyfriend, and a guy who often tags along with us. After a long time, their best kept secret wasn’t only theirs to share.
I spent a year trying to know more about him and his sexual orientation. I went as far as taking up subjects on gender and sexuality as electives. He spent the year exploring his sexuality. He built and destroyed his romantic relationships almost simultaneously.
It wasn’t easy coming to terms with it. He told me I should accept it as a matter of fact and I tried my best to do so. But I guess I was too worried about how people would react to his orientation that I totally forgot to keep my feelings in check.
“Coming out” didn’t make his life easier. Whenever he goes out with people, he’d always ask me to join them. I became the third wheel, the fall guy (or girl) that keeps away suspicions. But to me, the discrimination he got from other gays was far more cruel than the fear that he’ll be excluded in other social circles.
My Rainbow Colored Lens
From my experience, even if the gay subculture is fighting against discrimination, some of them still discriminate each other. There’s the Western construct of macho gay. It’s just all about their sexual orientation — about men loving men. But in the Philippines, most think that gays want to be women. This is the dominant notion of the effeminate gay. This perspective is one of the reasons our country does not have a more accepting gay community.
I saw other gays bash him for not subscribing to their effeminate standard of gay conduct. I saw him bash other gays for degrading the gay label.
“Basta ang untoward talaga sa’kin ng gays who give negative connotations [to the gay label]. Kailangan ‘pag gay, madaldal, bastos, maingay, provocative, naghahabol ng lalaki” (I disapprove of gays who give negative connotations to the gay label. When you’re gay, you have to be talkative, vulgar, noisy, provocative and running after men)
These prevailing negative ideas about gay men are one of the reasons why people like him do not publicly admit they are gay. They become closet homosexuals. He has encountered gays who think he is undeserving of membership in the gay community — because he doesn’t act like one.
I started to view his world through a rainbow colored lens. The two of us would always talk about these issues: the theories I learned from school set against his actual experiences and vice versa. The year ended with us still the best of friends. He went to graduate school and I took a break from too much emotions.
June 21, 2011.
A familiar face entered the college halls. He wore a tucked in polo, with matching geeky glasses with thick black rims. His once unruly hair still looked unruly, but in style. My heart ran against my chest. I hid in the comfort room.
After a hiatus from the turbulent friendship, we met again at the lobby of a college building. In an instant, I lost the peace I had for months prior to our meeting. I swear I have been dismissing the thought for so long until I stood defenseless already. Something felt wrong. The feeling was strong. I was falling for him.
Seven months later, I decided to tell him about my feelings.
I’m “Coming Out”
December 21, 2011.
I gave him a 30-page hardbound book, the most elaborate of all the letters I gave him in the past years. He read it in a van while we were on our way home. I wrote the book to explain to him why I loved him. He read the first page. He saw three words then looked at me to confirm if what was written is true. I motioned him to read on.
We had been quiet for what seemed like an eternity when he decided to speak up. He told me how much he cherishes our friendship and how thankful he was for having me. He said I just confirmed what he knew all along. He assured me the friendship will not change. But he had to clarify something:
“I can’t be a man for you.”
Without giving it a thought, I just blurted out: “it’s okay.”
I told him I wasn’t really expecting anything.
He responded with a reassuring “okay.”
Telling him about my feelings felt as if I was “coming out.” After a long time, I could finally spend time with him without my inner demons policing me. I could finally be extra nice to him without masking it under the guise of friendship.
There’s a certain stigma attached to loving a gay man who is also stigmatized because of his sexual orientation. Women who have experienced this often look at it as a mistake, a vital part of one’s learning curve. It was supposedly stupid and irrational because the rule book doesn’t support it.
But who created rule books anyway? I don’t regret loving him. Can’t we just be blind with gender and sexuality and for once just accept love as a matter of fact?
What’s worse than a friendzone? A gay friendzone.
My gay best friend told me I was the girl version of his boyfriend. I became his backup plan, always filling in for his boyfriend’s company whenever they fight. If I declined his invitations, he would think it’s because I was keeping my feelings in check. If I accepted them, he would think it’s because I’m very eager to be with him.
I became a jealousy-generator. He loved the feeling that his girl best friend and his boyfriend were fighting over him. As much as I wanted to tell his boyfriend that I was not a threat to the relationship, I knew I could not fault him for thinking otherwise.
I became his go-to girl all the more. He would confide in me whenever they break up and whenever they get back together. I refrained from giving him my advice. I knew doing so would only expose my bias. I felt like somehow I was hanging on to every cue that things might change. After all, we both believe that gender is fluid.
I was ready to take that leap: my love for him transcended the bounds of gender and sexuality.
The End to Martyrdom
November 16, 2011.
He asked me to accompany him to a mall to buy a new phone because his boyfriend couldn’t make it. I told him he shouldn’t ask me to do such things because we both knew how his boyfriend would feel about it.
“This is too-girlfriend,” I insisted.
He corrected me and said: “No, too-boyfriend.”
As soon as we arrived at the mall, he changed his mind. He said he’d treat me at a pizza place instead. His boyfriend texted him and said he’d be there in an hour. He asked me to join them for a movie instead — and to sit beside me so his boyfriend would get jealous and regret not accompanying him.
“Ano ako, third wheel?” I blurted out, annoyed. (What do you think of me? A third wheel?)
Everybody loves attention; that’s the most I got from our setup. I knew he was taking advantage of my feelings, keeping me around so he’ll have someone everytime they break up. But I couldn’t fault him because I knew I gave him license to do so — ever since that day when I became upfront with my feelings for him.
My friends were like bees buzzing through my ears. They kept on telling me that my situation was so hopeless; they were already preparing to build a statue for my martyrdom. I kept convincing myself I was okay with it until one day, my common sense woke up.
This cannot go on anymore.
Goodbye, Beki Love
April 22, 2012.
I wore his sablay (a fabric sash worn by graduating students in the University of the Philippines) in my graduation. We met up after the ceremony. He gave me my favorite dark chocolate almonds Ritter Sport and a book entitled “All About Me.” He congratulated me. We said our goodbyes.
That was my cue.
Enough of me being all about him, from then on I thought, maybe it was time to be ‘all about me.’
July 7, 2014.
I asked him if he has already revealed his identity to everybody. He told me he has only done that to 70% of the people he knew. Four years after his ‘coming out,’ and decades after he first realized his gender identity, he still keeps that part of him from 30% of the people he knew.
Too bad that 30% would miss out on how great a person he has become.
[Entry 32, The SubSelfie Blog]
About the Author:
Dawnavie Dadis is a Segment Producer for DocuCentral, the special projects arm of ABS-CBN Integrated News and Current Affairs. Doing the laundry is her form of mediation. The shower is her territory for musings. She is a story and a story-teller. She previously worked for GMA News as a Segment Producer for News TV Quick Response Team (QRT) with Jiggy Manicad and as a News Producer for the morning newscasts Unang Hirit and Kape’t Balita. Journalism 2012, UP Diliman. Read more of her articles here.