Thursday, December 22, 2016


I realized I was gay when I was very young, but only opened up to a couple of friends in high school. I never fully embraced my identity until college, when I discovered Malate and realized there was a thriving community made up of people who were just like me.

Bullying was just a part of growing up, during those times when I slipped up and acted less masculine than was “appropriate” at the time. At some point though, I grew up, realized I actually like who I was, and decided that I had to learn not to care about what people thought of me, if I wanted to live a life of integrity, one where I was true to myself.

In practical terms, what this means is that, each day, each moment, I have to draw a line on the ground, and remind people every time that they cannot cross that line. And every time someone crosses that line, every time someone engages in hate speech or says that some bakla needed to be punched in the face simply because he refuses to disappear or to change himself so he was less different, I have to speak up, to make people realize that that behavior is unacceptable, and that I will not allow it.

And the only way I could do this, I realized, is if I was smarter and stronger than everyone else. If I worked harder and earned my place at the table. And that sucks, because straight men get that seat at the table by virtue of their birth, while I needed to fight for it.

But that’s how you change people’s minds. Bullies only have power if you allow them to wield it. And if enough people say “no, this behavior is unacceptable”, well, you can change the world.

The people who play nice, who say “this is not my problem, I’m only going to look at the positive”, are those who aren’t affected by issues which define minorities, which are real struggles we have to live with on an everyday basis. Good for you. But realize that that means you live a life of privilege we only hope we can have one day—the privilege to live a life without fear or judgment or threat of violence.

Our fight may not be your fight, but it is a real one nonetheless. Don’t diminish it by saying we should only “look at the positive”. Unfortunately, we don’t have that luxury.

Sunday, December 18, 2016


You were having tea this time, which I thought was strange, but everything else was almost exactly how I remembered it--the same coffee shop, the same seats, the same intimidating presence. Your broad shoulders have developed a firm muscular quality I don't remember them having, and shallow wrinkles have started to form at the corners of your eyes, but it's uncanny how little you've changed in the decade and a half since I last saw you.

We started with the usual pleasantries, which pretty much was as awkward as we both should have expected them to be. But we've always disdained small talk, so in that surreal, familiar setting, we dove straight to the point. 

"We had fun didn't we?" you asked. "We had a good time."


"But what did we have?"

Such a strange question to be asking 15 years after the fact, but I answered as best as I could. "We never really had the opportunity to define it. We never really needed to, but we did have a lot of fondness for each other, so I guess that was enough for both of us at the time."

"Do you remember how we broke up?"

"I honestly don't."

"You threw me out of your car."


"I remember that we drove around a lot, and we fought a lot. And at some point you said you can't deal with me anymore, so you asked me to leave. Then I said fine and left."

"Wow, I sound like an asshole."

You didn't respond except with a small smile, and a long sip of your tea. You raised your hand to scratch the scruff on your jaw, and I remembered how your beard used to leave small scratches on my neck.

"You look good," I said. "I honestly hoped you've gotten fat, and I think it's unfair you actually look more handsome now than you did when we first met."

You laughed, and I remembered that I've always enjoyed making you laugh. "You look great too. Seriously, you don't look like you've aged at all."

The conversation then took unexpected turns, and we spoke of past hurts in an aloof but unaffected manner, as if these were things that happened to other people, and not acts we intentionally inflicted on each other. We talked about the lives we've lived since we broke up, and found common ground in the general frustration we've both felt at the way the relationships we've had had turned out. We settled into that familiar rhythm we've developed years ago, when we were young and nights were long and the possibilities were endless, but this time without the anger or the bitterness or the resentment that seemed to permeate every conversation we used to have. 

"This is a little strange isn't it?' I said at some point.

"What do you mean?"

"I can't believe we're talking to each other like actual adults. Who would've thought that was possible?'

You smiled. "You know, I don't think we've ever had closure, and I'm not sure we actually ever needed it, but this was nice. It's really good to see you again."

I let out a small laugh, and gave you a small pat on the side of your face. I guess time does heal old wounds, if you let it. 


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