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I patiently waited for 8 years and dated 15 girls before I met the most amazing woman whom I love so much with all my energy. I’m a transgender man, and dating for me can be difficult.

I’m not the type to give thoughts to insecurities, but I’m cautious. I believe in gender equality, patience, respect, and responsibility. I think problems always having solutions, and making yourself happy is important and you shouldn’t rely on anyone else to give that to you. So, even though, I was “alone” for 8 years, it never felt like I was lonely.

Sure, I dream of settling down, sharing a home with a woman I love, building a life with her, and making dreams come true for the two of us—with children or not. I even dream of getting married. But the thing is, it has to be with a woman who is strong, independent, free spirited, and genuinely kind.

Here’s a cliche: I met her at Starbucks. I’m an artist, I was commissioned by Starbucks to host a workshop offered to their patrons. Part of my job as a facilitator was to interact with the participants. Apparently, she is an artist, too, but is not able to practice her craft due to work. She seemed optimistic and bubbly. At some point in the workshop, she mentioned her belief about love having no boundaries and not knowing gender. That’s when it clicked. I knew right there and then, I had to do something to get her attention. After the workshop, I gave stickers to the participants as a parting gift. I had one sticker that resembled my image, I decided to give it to her. She then asked me if I was leaving and had that look in her eye that was asking for me to stay. I invited her to come with me to a music festival I was heading to, but she said that she had a family thing. So, we just smoked and shared one stick of cigarette. I was 32 years old and she was 22, but she seemed not to mind. I told her she should add me on Facebook. We chatted all night.

Two days after, we decided to meet up. We had coffee. We had our first kiss. Everything came out naturally. We agreed on most things, and settled on agreeing to disagree on some. She insisted we split the bill, not to take a taxi or Uber and just take the bus home. She admitted to me that she was a little frightened because her dad is a Christian pastor and her mom is a prominent art curator. They were conservative Christians who didn’t condone members of the LGBTQI+ in their church.

I couldn’t care less. I liked her. I told her I was sure of myself and that I was ready to face whatever obstacle. I asked her if she wanted to be my girlfriend, but told her not to answer unless she was sure. Eventually, she asked me if I wanted to be her boyfriend. Of course, I said yes.

Her parents were strict and stiff as a log. If she did not reply to their text message they would call her after five minutes. If she was late for more than an hour from the time she said she will be home, they will come get her. But she did her best to be around me. She even introduced me to her friends and sister, who was also amazing and kind. I loved her sister like she was my own. I did my best to take care of both of them. We didn’t mind the hardship. We enjoyed being together.

Three months into the relationship, on December 23, she came by my house at 5 A.M. with a bouquet of flowers for me. I have never received flowers before that day. We did a little Christmas celebration. That day was perfect.

On December 29, 4 A.M., I received a text message: “Don’t reply to this. My parents found out about us. Just wait for me.” I almost lost it. I wished it was a prank. I waited until I got another text from her sister confirming what happened and telling me to just wait for her ate. Of course, her mom would know who I am, we work in the same art world.

One day in January, I got a text message from her. She got a secret phone. She was not allowed to go out. She can’t go to work. But she had a plan on how we could see each other. We saw each other that summer. But it didn’t last long. We were found out again. She did her best to stand up to her parents. But they overpowered her. We talked on the phone that night, but she disappeared the next day. The last thing I heard was that she was hospitalized because of depression. I begged her parents to allow me to come see her. I sent them emails and text messages. I did not get a reply. Her friends wouldn’t say anything. Her sister blocked me on all social media. Five months after, I saw that she has a new Facebook and Instagram account. She seemed happy and in better health in her pictures.

A year after, I heard she’s working as a full time artist and has a girlfriend. I don’t know how that happened. I guess, she stood up for herself. I’m happy for her. I hope she continues being courageous. As for me, I’m alone, but not lonely. I don’t have to wait anymore. I have all the love I need within me to find the woman I could build a life with, make our dreams come true, together. And to love, of course.

Confessions are anonymously-penned pieces about heart full, memorable and oftentimes life-changing experiences. Minsan masaya, minsan malungkot, madalas tagos sa buto. At the end of the day, learnings pa rin ito bes.

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