"An albatross may fly great distances over the oceans, but despite its extensive travels, this bird will always return to the same place — and the same partner — when it's time to breed. Pair bonds between males and females form over several years and will last for a lifetime, cemented through the use of goofy but affectionate ritual dances."
- from the MNN Network 11 Animals that Mate for Life
During review classes, it is customary for me and my fellow "elders" Ann and Jude to have lunch together. Both are in their mid-twenties, Ann is married to a seafarer and they have one daughter, Jude is single and goes from one date to another, or as he calls it "booking". And so frequently the topic would inevitably be about lovelife- who's dating who in the review class, who broke up with who among our batchmates, and occasionally, our own.
Ann's pre-schooler was a product of years of romance with her college sweetheart, but although they have said their vows before a judge, they never had a church wedding- an important tradition in Catholic unions.
"Ann, when your husband comes home next year do you guys plan to have a church wedding?"
She rubbed her chin for a bit as she was thinking, and slowly said, "No."
"Church weddings are so expensive: you need caterers, photographers, videographers, dressmakers for the gown and dresses of the bridal entourage, a venue. We'd rather spend the money on our daughter's schooling."
It was a practical decision for even a hopeless romantic such as Ann. At least she is lucky she has the option to wed, some of us, namely the gay populace can't really marry here in the Philippines. No civil rights to be legally bound before the court of law, much less the blessing of the church.
I once asked the opinion of a female friend who had just finished her Bachelor of Laws: Do you think gay unions be allowed here in the Philippines?
"Absolutely." She said.
"When two people decide to be together, they should be given the same civil rights as in a heterosexual marriage. Although I don't see it going as far as getting tax exemptions or conjugal property, but their union should be at least recognized."
I personally think (and there is no judgement intended here, just stating my observations) the reason why monogamy- or at least having a steady long-term relationship is not popular in the gay community is because we basically do not have anything to tie the knot with one partner. Say for example, heterosexual couples do the dating game, but then it leads to marriage- a legal contract where infidelity is actually a punishable crime (not that this stopped many heterosexuals from cheating), and marriage between a man and woman most likely will be the beginning of a family.
I do believe gay men in particular want faithful and meaningful relationships, but very few actually do. During my early twenties, I dated in hopes of having that steady relationship, and it was fun for a while but as one gets older, you'd eventually ask yourself- is that all there is? The thing about dating is that is is usually shallow, it almost never gets to the nitty gritty.
What we want is infatuation, the kind the movies wants us to believe: falling for a gorgeous man with a hot body (or maybe you try vainly to have that hot body) who falls in love back and treats you like the queen you are. But love is not candy hearts, or a bouquet of roses, or a dreamy kiss in the sunset.
Love is a decision- to love that person despite all the imperfections. Love is having someone to hold your hand when you are in the hospital having sigmoidoscopy. Love is having someone during the most difficult times of your life. Love is having to talk to someone every night about the most mundane things about your day. Love is fighting and making up. Love is messy, love is- as I recently learned- the task of cleaning the arinola of someone you respect and treasure, and thank God for everyday you get to do that because the one you love is still alive.
I suppose sexual drives are forever part of our genetic make-up (so that's why we have porn- ok I'm kidding), but that should not stop us from making those deep connections and be committed to one person. So while I think it is exciting to be in the dating game the way some of my young friends are, I'm very much happy I'm finally with someone I'm deeply involved in. Like what my friend Ann said, she needs no church wedding to validate her love for her husband, but I do hope one day I myself get to say my vows to the man I love, in front of friends and family. After all, what could be more romantic than having a mate for life?