this story originally appeared in the philippine daily inquirer on March 21, 2000.

Among my wishes when I entered the university was to have a lot of gay friends. From frequent visits to beauty parlors and from knowing a few of them through my relatives who are affiliated with the entertainment industry, I saw them as a funny and creative lot, people who were always happy, laughing-gay.

However, my section in college was a big disappointment. There were no gay men, although one was being openly teased as a “closet queen,” but he didn’t count since he was trying mightily to prove to the rest of us that he wasn’t and was therefore not much fun to be with. Our classroom was full of egocentric chauvinists who thought themselves superior, so I hung out with female friends, my search for a gay friend momentarily suspended.

I started to focus on other things, like relationships and men. I launched my writing career and put so much time into it, leaving hardly any time for other things.

My first relationship turned obsessive-to a point that I could talk to no one else but the guy I was with. My phone should never be busy and I should be there always to answer at the first ring. Otherwise, there would be hell to pay.

When that relationship was finally over, I began to open up to a lot of people. I made many friends and tried to make it up to the old ones I had neglected.

One of the people I got close to was Calvin. He was an old acquaintance, a guy I met at a writers’ workshop months earlier. He was a contributor for one of the publications I write for. We used to communicate by text, e-mail and phone, but everything pertained to our job, nothing on the personal level.

One night, I called him to ask about an article he was supposed to write. Now when we look back, we can’t even remember how it started, but our conversation went on for hours. I started talking animatedly, like I always do. He was entertained. He spent half the time laughing. I talked so fast without stopping, jumping from one subject to another, that he asked me if I wanted to breathe first and drink some water. Hilarious, that conversation was. And to think we are talking about families and relationships.

It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. When we were home, we would talk all the time. When we weren’t home, we would text each other the whole day. I kept talking about my ex-boyfriend and the guys I was dating and then I wondered what he was doing in that department. All he told me was that he never had a girlfriend and that he never attempted to court anyone ever.

“Ur choosy,” I told him in a text message while I was on the MRT. He said, “Tell U l8r.”

Later was actually two nights after that. We were on the phone and I asked, “What were you gonna tell me?” Then, my cell phone lit up and I read his message: “2 words: I’m gay.”

It was a big revelation. He told me I was stupid not to have noticed all those times. All I noted was that his voice sounded soft, but there were guys who spoke like that, and it didn’t mean they were gay.

The secret drew us even closer together. It is so much easier to share myself and my life with a person who I know would understand me. Men can be so judgmental, and he isn’t. He knows the importance of understanding and acceptance.

When I talk to him, I feel like I’m talking to a female friend. Indeed there are times when I forget that he’s not female. I would ask him about girlie stuff until he would shout at me, “Ano bang malay ko!?”

He knows all my deepest, darkest secrets. There are no pretensions, no need for good impressions. I lay myself open for him-completely raw and naked.

Other people misinterpret our relationship. Because we often talk until two in the morning and we go out together, his family thinks we’re dating. “They’re in denial,” he says. They have no idea that what I have with him is better than dating. And that he’s better than any date.

When we’re at the mall and some hot guy passes by, we would look at each other, smile and wriggle our eyebrows knowingly. When I’m about to go out, I ask him what I should wear-from the clothes to the shoes and if I should put my hair up or let it hang loose around my shoulders.

He shares my happiness. In fact, when good things happen to me, he’s even more excited than I am.

Since he knows how stupid I can be when I fall in love, he takes care of my heart. He tells me frankly if I’m turning into an idiot again. I know he’s ready to fight for me. In fact, he’s the first one to get mad when he feels that some guy is doing me wrong. Then he would say, “Kumukulo na naman ang dugo ko.” And I find sweet comfort in that.

Other times, we would start poking fun at ourselves. Like one night I went out with this guy, and there he was waiting for me at home. He texted me, “m waitin 4 u 2 get home safely. Isipin mo kung boy ako pogi points ‘to.”

I replied, “Pasalamat ka hindi ka boy..kundi…”

One time, he told me that he was telling his friends about me and I said, “Hoy, baka maging lalaki ka nyan.”

And he replied, “Puh-leeze. Your 36Cs would do nothing for me.”

Funny. Everything is funny. Even when I’m wailing about the pathetic status of my love life, he would make me laugh. And when I was agonizing about this guy’s stupidity, he said, “Alam mo hindi na bobo ang tawag dyan, eh. Sobra na ‘yan. Pigilan mo ako. Malapit ko na ‘yan iuntog sa pader.” And once again, heartfelt laughter swept away the pain in my heart.

Likewise, I am ready to take on anyone and everyone who would do anything that hurts Calvin. In fact, I recently had an argument with my ex about the third sex. Since he cultivates a psuedo-conservative, macho, chauvinist image, it is not surprising for him to be narrow-minded when it comes to this subject. But since I am headstrong and hard-headed especially when dealing with him, I didn’t let him win. He got so frustrated that he ended the argument abruptly. No problem. I’m sure I got my point across. No one could bad-mouth the third sex and Calvin without getting a sharp retort from me.

Calvin is sweet, intelligent, thoughtful. Had he been straight, he’d be the perfect boyfriend. But he’s not. He’s gay. And he’s the perfect friend. I love him for that.

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