This is the story of boy meets boy. The story, when it was recently featured in a national television program, reminded people of two simple things: 1) There is no law above love and 2) True love knows no sexual orientation.
The boy, Myke Sotero, is an activist. He’s involved in advocacy for environment protection and, more importantly, LGBT (Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) rights. He is also a pastor at the Metropolitan Community Church of Metro Baguio (MCC Metro Baguio).
The other boy, Jojo Rugay, used to be angry at the fact that he was gay. He would go as far as hiding who he is from his loved ones.
This is their love story. But keep in mind, this is more of a story about love.
9 years, 7 months, 1 week, 1 day
Myke’s life has crumbled into nothing. His partner Emil – whom he shared nine years, seven months, one week, and a day of his life with – is now with Death which means life for Myke has become void of meaning. It was during this time of grief that he found himself hooked on social networking sites.
Myke meets Jojo through an online post where both have been mutually tagged. Myke, finding Jojo attractive, added him as a friend and fortunately, Jojo accepted the request. Thus begins a beautiful relationship.
Their connection was instant. Though not being able to see each other physically – with one not being able to see the twinkle in the other’s eyes or the smile that curves from the other’s lips – they both felt as though they could open up their own world to each other.
Jojo would tell Myke about his past relationships – about the on-and-off status, the “may kahati”, and how it couldn’t work out because the partner has a religious vocation. Myke, too, would share about Emil, in a catharsis of sorts that allows him to gradually move on from that meaningful relationship and to another.
They brought out the skeletons in their closet of relationships, leaving it for the other to either take or leave. Together they rehashed their past and made a future for themselves.
When love takes over
Upon getting to know each other, they both felt “that feeling” – the inexplicable feeling that you’ve known the other person your whole life, how easy it is to let your walls come down so the other person could see you for who you are, and how the other person inspires you to be yourself. They each looked for “signs” – the same ones we ask whatever higher power we believe in when we get that unshakable instinct about someone we have growing feelings for– that would say “he is The One”. Myke even asked Jojo once what it is he looks for in a relationship, to which Jojo said: “True love, commitment, and stability” – three things anyone (doesn’t matter what their sexual orientation is) would want out of a relationship.
Myke and Jojo also exemplify the “theory” that “opposites attract” when it comes relationships. For example, Jojo is a bit of the neat freak while Myke has a devil-may-care attitude towards keeping their home tidy. Myke is the “aktibista” while Jojo is more of the “elitista” (the high-maintenance one in the relationship). Their individual characteristics can be on such extreme ends that their personalities tend to clash.
Then there’s also the problem with alcohol – how one too many of it causes one to say or do things that puts a strain on their relationship. If you’ve read David Levithan’s “The Lover’s Dictionary”, Myke and Jojo’s relationship will remind you of the couple in the book.
Yet, despite whatever differences or spats the two of them may have, the romance between them very much remains burning. “Every day is a romantic day for me with Jojo,” according to Myke.
Power of love
Prior to meeting Myke, Jojo wasn’t the proudest and most out gay man. Coming out was a long story for him.
But when Jojo met – and fell in love with– Myke, he began to accept himself for who he is. He, too, became involved in LGBT advocacies. Even his family (whom he thought would shun him if he ever came out), especially his sister, turned out to support LGBT rights. When he would post something online about anything related to the LGBT advocacy, his relatives would “like” or share those posts.
It turned out there was nothing to hide or be ashamed of.
Love is a higher law
The couple found themselves caught in a web of “homophobia” brought about by the negative reactions (especially those coming from church organizations and government officials) when, in June 2011, a mass Holy Union (or what other institutions call “wedding ceremony”) for LGBT couples took place here in Baguio. Words like “abnormal”, “mentally ill”, “kadiri”, or “kasalanan” were thrown at the Baguio LGBT community. The religious called the union “unlawful” and threatened to sue the MCC Metro Baguio for officiating such union between two people who are nothing but unconditionally in love with each other and who have found that one thing most of us are still looking for in our lives. However, none of those threats ever pushed through for the lack of legal grounds on which to sue.
But despite this web of “homophobia”, Myke and Jojo did officially “marry” each other (the term their church uses is “Holy Union”). In front of God and all the ones they love, the two of them took each other as partners for life.
They’ve been together for four years of their life. May they never have to spend the rest of it apart from each other.
Live to tell
The Twitterverse went abuzz with positive feedback, love, and support not only for the couple’s inspirational story but also for the LGBT community as well after their story was recently shared in a program of a national television network. Some of the tweets include:
@lookitsJheng Tonight’s #wagas episode made my heart melt. @pingmedina @paolocontis you guys made an amazing loveteam. :-)
@dixen04 Ang ganda ng story ni Myke and Joe #Wagas @wagastv11 I adore their relationship and it is unquestionable.
@PingMedina (who portrayed Myke Sotero in the episode) “There is no law above love.” — Thank you for watching #Wagas guys! Hope you enjoyed our LGBT episode :-)
@darandereb Watching #Wagas Wow, their love story can emancipate everyone to go out from their shells, be themselves, and love who they really love.
@beforeiturn25 We, straight and gays alike, look for the same things in a relationship: true love, commitment & stability. #wagas #equality
@CristineMallare Salamat sa unti unting pagmulat ng mata sa katotohanan!#wagas #notosteroetypedgays #LGBT
@tedDakuykoy walang kasarian ang tunay na pag-ibig! :) #wagas
@unosalas Mas magaang sa pakiramdam kung hindi mo iniisip ang iniisip ng ibang tao. #Wagas
@ynahalcantara In this changing world, we need to be more open. Watching #wagas @gmanewstvIntl
@tsokobrown Same problems,same situations.. Sa love,wala talagang diskriminasyon.. #GirlBoyBaklaTomboy #wagas
@tsokobrown Minsan talaga may mga kwentong LGBT na nakakakilig #Wagas
@geminizawahiri napapanahon na tlaga ang mga ganitong love story. Atleast kahit papano narerecognize na ang mga 3rd sex na part sila ng society
There are countries in the world where same-sex marriage is legal, namely: Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Spain, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Portugal, Argentina, Denmark, Brazil, France, Uruguay, and New Zealand. In the United States, the following States have legalized same-sex marriage: District of Columbia (the country’s federal district), Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Washington, Maine, Maryland, California, Delaware, Minnesota, and Rhode Island. Some countries such as Israel, Mexico, and Aruba, Curacao, and Sint Maarten (the constituent countries of the Kingdom of Netherlands) recognize same-sex marriages though they do not perform them.
In our country, the government does not recognize same-sex marriages. Moves to legalize same-sex marriage are being pushed by LGBT organizations. But being a country still highly-influenced by religious dogmas, the line between State and Church is getting more and more skewed. The quest for marriage equality in this country, then, remains to be merely a quest.
But if you asked me, I’d be proud if I get to live to see the day this country allows marriage equality to come true. The way I see it, you don’t have to be gay or bi in order to support love. We can break everything down to laws or dogmas, but those can’t explain love.
From what I could remember from my religion classes back in elementary school, all God or Jesus wants us to learn from them are tolerance, love, truth, and acceptance. You don’t have to be gay in order to accept and love gay people – you just have to be human. I am straight and I love and accept gay people.
And isn’t love what most of us look for in life? Don’t most of us live our lives searching for that one person we would die for, that person we would wake in the morning for, that person we would put our heart and pride on the line for?*