Friday, August 16, 2013

The Closet Chronicles: Andrew

(photo credits: www.biggaycloset.com)
Everyone has a story to tell and everyone has a road to take. No two stories are the same. Some of them might be similar but they are different from one another. 

This column will showcase the story of a member from our community, a John Doe or Jane Doe. A stranger who you’ve never met but he or she has a story to tell and experiences to share. His or her story might be similar to yours or someone you know.So let’s take a glimpse at their life here in the Closet Chronicles.

The last closet we looked into was Benjamin's wherein he gave us a glimpse of his life and the things he had to go through being trans. This time, let's take a glimpse at the life of a guy with a story that, let's just say, some television shows are made of.

Andrew (not his real name) is a manager in one of the many call centers around Metro Manila. He is in his late 30’s and describes himself as a selective extrovert. The thing about Andrew is that he has been married to a woman for the past 7 years and has a 3 year old kid.

“Does your wife know or at least have an idea?” I asked.

“No. Not at all. I try very hard to make sure that she doesn't find out.”

“So your life is similar to My Husbands Lover?”

“You can say that but minus the lover” he answered with a laugh.

So to get the ball rolling, I asked him when did he realize he was gay.

“Looking back, at some level alam ko na talaga na iba ako pero sinubukan kong labanan” (I knew I was different but I tried to fight it).

“But you ended up marrying a woman. Why?” I asked

“Yes I did. I was afraid of what my family would say and back then, gays were not as accepted as they are now. It was a different time. In my head there were only two options. Either I come out and be judged by society or stay in the closet, marry a woman and pretend to have a normal life. Obvious naman kung anong pinili ko diba?” (It’s obvious which option I picked right?).

“So tell me more about how you ended up where you are.”

He looked around for a few seconds. I could see that he was nervous. He was afraid someone might see him. I told him to relax and that if someone he knows approaches us, I will introduce myself as a real estate agent trying to sell him a condominium.

He felt more at ease after that.

“I met my wife in my first job. We were from the same department. Even though I already accepted the fact that I was gay, I had no plans of coming out. I became close to her kasi astig siya (she was cool). She wasn't maarte or anything and she was very easy to get along with. I just thought that if ever I was going to spend my life living as a straight man, I’d want to be with her because she wasn't annoying like other girls.”

“So you pursued her?” I asked.

“Yes. And it wasn't easy because it didn't feel natural to me at that time but after a year of courting her, she said yes. We got married three years later.”

I asked him if he would ever come out to her.

“Aaminin ko, naisip ko rin yan (I must admit, it has crossed my mind). But I won't. I cannot do that to her. I can never hurt her that way,” he answered. “Siguro on my deathbed nalang” he said jokingly.

“Since she’s a woman, you have needs that she cannot fulfill, if you know what I mean. How do you deal with that?”

“I get to travel a lot because of my work and when I do, I meet up with men sometimes just to get it out of my system. But I am very discreet about it. I make sure I am in a place where no one would ever recognize me. It’s hard, I must admit but I made my choice years ago.”

I told him that I admired the willpower and discipline he has.

“I've accepted what I want and what I need many years ago. It wasn't easy but I've learned the very fine line between both,” he answered.

“But how is the marriage?”

“Happy. Seryoso. Sure, it’s not the life I would have wanted but I’m happy with how it turned out. I am married to an amazing woman. There’s no lust or any sexual desire but there’s love and trust and companionship, romance, all of that. I’m lucky because I married my best friend.”

I could hear the sincerity in his voice.

“Do you regret anything?”

“I would like to say yes, but in all honesty, no I don’t regret anything. I didn't choose to be gay pero pinili ko na mabuhay ng ganito (I chose to live a life like this). It’s hard and it’s a struggle but at the end of the day when I get home and my kid hugs me I tell myself na, no matter how hard it is, seeing my child makes everything worth it.”

To end the interview, I asked Andrew if he has any advice to give to people who are or was in his situation.

“Nakapa-ironic naman kung ako ang magbibigay ng advice (I find it ironic that I’m giving advice)” he said with a loud chuckle. “I guess if someone else is in the same boat as me, I’d tell them to make sure that whatever decision they make or whatever life they choose to live, panindigan nila (stand by it). I guess that’s it. I made my decision to live my life as a straight man even though I know I’m gay but I’m happy how things turned out. Okay na ako sa ganito (I’m good with this),” he answered with a smile.

With that, we ended the interview.

We all have different experiences and stories, and the Closet Chronicles aims to share one person’s story. Whether they are out of the closet or hiding inside, it’s a story worth telling, it’s a story worth listening to because whether it’s one person or a dozen, someone would be able to relate to your story and maybe, just maybe, they’d learn a thing or two.