I’m From Quezon City, Philippines

by anthony p.

I kid you not when I say that my love and I met underneath a giant Christmas tree.

It was a chilly December evening, and the crowd in the Christmas fair had started to thin even though the night was still young. A giant leafless tree stood in the middle of the garden of the old building. The school had decided to lace this tree with décor and lights to give it cheer. Our small group had approached the tree in boredom and decided to sit under its glittering branches. We had decided to drag some kids from the lower years with us. We didn’t know them, and they didn’t know us. It was a random affair to be honest. We just pulled the 3 most available looking people and asked them to join us. When introductions were done, time was spent with small talk. It was obvious that we were mostly awkward., we just spent the night laughing and jesting among our newly formed friendships. Little did I know, that one of those 3 random strangers is the guy that I would fall for.

Time had gone by since that fateful encounter under the Christmas Tree. We had gone back to our boring lives, painfully trying to get through high school. Of course, I didn’t know about him before that day, so I used the power of the Internet to gain a little knowledge about him. Friendster was my friend, and Blogger my ally. They told me much without my having to talk with him. They were the ones who told me that he liked boys. Back then, this was news to me since my imagination could not even grasp the idea of same-sex relationships. Of course, I didn’t mean that I was against it, I just had no idea that it was possible. So you can imagine my surprise when he expressed interest in me. I was an outcast,  5’5”, dark skin, and in my eyes, terribly boring. He was one of the higher-ups in their batch, smart, popular, and I’ve heard he was talented in quite a few things! Not to mention he was out! But as I’ve said, I had no idea it was possible, so I turned him down. He said thank you for the honesty, and after settling things, we just decided to become best friends.

Word quickly went around that we were hanging out. Of course, when you’re the guidance counselor’s son, it’s hot gossip when you’re hanging out with one of the few out gay guys in the school. I was teased, ridiculed, and people even gave me funny looks sometimes, but I took them, knowing that they didn’t know him the way I do. It was only a matter of time ‘till my mom caught a whiff of the gossip. She took me aside, and told me outright that I shouldn’t be friends with the likes of him. Enraged, I asked her, and asked again what she meant “with the likes of him.” She brushed it off, and said that line EVERY child with a parent has heard: “Because I said so.” I was confused. I didn’t understand what was wrong with wanting to be with another guy. Weeks passed, and within those weeks, not a word was spoken between us, but we spoke with our eyes. We passed notes, passed glances, short but sweet greetings in the hallways. Eventually, in the solitude, we became closer, refusing to let go of each other, even though the world wants us apart.

A little more than year had passed after the evening under the Christmas tree. February had just begun. We had kept our friendship away from prying eyes. Meeting after school, talking online, and even hiding in the more hidden parts of the school during lunch time. We talked a lot on the phone, he had told me around January that his feelings had intensified to a point that he decided to use the word love. Whenever he said it, I kept telling him I couldn’t reciprocate. Every time I said that I couldn’t reciprocate, I was falling for him more. On the evening of the 7th of February, he called me. He told me that there was something he needed to tell me in person. I thought this the best opportunity to tell him, so I agreed to meet him after school. Once classes ended, he started to walk me home. We made small talk, until we reached a tree a few minutes before my house. We talked more, about how and where our friendship would go. As the sun set, neither of us have told what we needed to say. The darkness covered us, hiding us from judgement’s eyes. As the three heartfelt words slipped out of my mouth, fireworks lit the sky. The reds, the greens, and other colorful lights had filled the night sky. Unfortunately, the loud blasts also filled the night. My words were drowned out by the loud explosions of color. He couldn’t hear my words no matter how loudly I proclaim my feelings for him. In an act of desperation, I grabbed his collar and pulled him in for a kiss. The deepest kiss I have ever had. And as we walked towards my house, he asked me the funniest question I have ever been asked in the entirety of my life: “So does this mean we’re together now?”

3 years have passed since that day with the fireworks, and every time we think about it, we can’t help but smile. My mom is still against us, but we’re still holding on. It’s not perfect, but for us, that’s what keeps things fun.

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