Still Not Straight
Dating a man after a decade of dating women does not make me “unqueer”
I was in kindergarten when I met Leila, with her wild, curly brown hair and large, doll-like eyes. We each had our best friends, but we often hung out at the playground together. One day, she and I fought for reasons I don’t remember (why do kindergarten kids fight anyway?), and she offered me my favorite candy while saying sweetly, “Bati na tayo?” (Truce?). Even now, the surest way to get me to accept an apology is to offer me cheap sweets, say those words, and remind me of Leila’s eyes.
In sixth grade, I convinced a good friend of mine to ask Carla for a wallet-sized picture. Carla always seemed unreal to me whenever she passed by in the hallways, with her slim, athletic figure, her sleek black hair, and glowing olive skin. I carried her picture in my wallet until high school when I misplaced it together with my 1,000-peso savings (a fortune back then). I was devastated, and it wasn’t about the money.
Emily was the captain of my high school’s dance troupe. She walked with her chin and chest upturned, light on her feet, the flowery detergent smell of her uniform wafting around her. Whenever I caught that smell, my friend had to snap her fingers in front of my face to get me back to reality and to continue listening to her boy stories.
In college, I fell in love with a girl for the first time when she cried on my shoulder. I’d had a crush on her for the past year, buying her ice cream when she was stressed, studying calculus with her until late, and carrying her piggyback in the department lobby. That night, with her soft, wet face grazing my neck, I imagined raising our future daughter together.
At 20, I had my first girlfriend. I joined the university’s LGBT organization she was a part of. I marched and waved rainbow flags proudly by her side. We were together for four years until I could no longer imagine a future with her and broke her heart.
Soon after, I started a relationship with another woman, this time lasting eight years. We raised four cats together. No longer in our early twenties, we were subtler about raising rainbow flags but stauncher in our resolve to be seen just like any other couple—with careers, families, dreams, and a life to…