Being in love with a gay Filipino has shown me just how racist some British gay men can be. Not one straight friend, colleague or relative has been critical. In fact, they have been supportive and happy for me and my fiancé, Socrates.
These British gay men are the first to demand their rights, and anyone who tries to oppress them is called a homophobe, but that doesn’t stop them displaying blatant racism toward my relationship with a Filipino. Clearly, some gays haven’t learned the concept of a double-standard.
I have been warned, asked why I can’t just settle for a British man and been shown concern that I may be having a mental breakdown.
You met on Facebook? Are you f**king crazy!
The first thing that freaked some of my fellow Britons out was that my now fiancé, Socrates, messaged me on Facebook back in July 2017. The shock horror! They could think of nothing more dangerous and stupid than accepting to chat with a man on Facebook.
The last time I checked Facebook was a social media website. And these same critics have “friends” they’ve never met, and probably only chatted to online for all of five minutes. But that is okay because they are not Filipino, and they are not trying to date me.
I was warned Socrates wanted me for my body (lucky me), my money (didn’t realise I was wealthy) or my citizenship (I’m sure there are easier ways than dating me).
There was no possible way Socrates could have wanted me for me. There was no way a foreigner, and a non-Western foreigner at that, could possibly be anything but dangerous and motivated by a dark desire to infiltrate the United Kingdom.
Socrates is a mature man who has worked for over fifteen years in a good job in Saudi Arabia. He has travelled to many countries, built a home and small business for his mother back in the Philippines. And the man has degrees. He is a highly intelligent person. But yet, he is not good enough for me just because I am British.
The irritating thing is our critics cannot boast anywhere near the same achievements because none have worked abroad, none have a degree, none have travelled that much and none have built a home or small business for anyone. Ah, but they are British so that makes them better.
The joke here is these same critics meet strangers online all the time, or while out in the street, on public transport or wherever the horn may hit them. But that is okay, because you are within the UK where everyone is good, kind, innocent and never out to get you.
Yes, it is dangerous to chat, and get into a relationship, with a person on Facebook but not on Gindr, Growlr, Tinder, Gaydar, Plenty of Fish or any other “dating” site.
And of course, it certainly isn’t dangerous to go home, or to a public toilet, with a man you just met on a bus, in the supermarket or while walking down the street. That is SO safe, and you know him because you have actually met him in person.
But me chatting to Socrates every single day from that first contact at the beginning of July, and developing a loving and deep relationship, means nothing because I had not met him in person. Jeez, I need to hold my nose because the stench of double-standard and hypocrisy is killing me here.
Rape, murder or sold into sex slavery
The next drama came when I decided to visit Socrates in the Philippines at the beginning of September.
I was told it was too soon because I had only known him for two months. How can I seriously be thinking about travelling thousands of miles to meet a man I have never met – there is a paradox alert right there. I am criticised for getting involved with a man I have not met, and then I am criticised for deciding to meet him.
An amusing moment was watching a friend explode into a rage because Socrates would rape me, murder me or sell me as a sex slave. Really? Is this really what some gay Westerners think of the Philippines and Filipinos? Of course, none of the critics had ever been to the Philippines.
Within days of my announcement, I was given a rape alarm, condoms and lubrication. Laughter was the only response I could muster. Oh, please picture the scene:
Socrates has just sold me to a gang of sex monsters. They are tearing my clothes off but I manage to say, “One second, boys, my gay friends back home gave us supplies. If you chaps would kindly put one of these condoms on. Please excuse me, gents, I will just lubricate my wee hole to make it more comfortable.”
A few minutes pass while my rapists and I prepare ourselves…
While I lay on the filthy floor the rapists had thrown me on, I hold the rape alarm in my hand. “Okay, boys, I am ready for you to go mental on me.”
At the moment the rapists move in, I hit the rape alarm and wait for the party to start.
You did what!
Yes, I did the unthinkable. I committed the crime of the century. I got on that plane to Manila and met my boyfriend. The man I had been dating and chatting to every single day for two months. I must have been out of my mind.
On September 2nd, which was my first morning in the Philippines, Socrates behaving nervously, lay next to me on the bed and proposed to me. Call the National Guard!
Sure, I could have thought well, it has been just two months perhaps I should say no and wait until some unknown acceptable amount of time had passed between us. But I knew my love for Socrates is genuine. There was not one doubt inside my head. I didn’t want to wait.
Yes, I broke international law; I said yes to the man I love when he asked me to marry him. I allowed a non-Western man to place a ring on my finger. That was it, I would have the Queen on the phone at any moment telling me never to return to the UK.
Call me selfish, but I was in love for the first time in my life. We had not actually hurt anyone. Plus, Socrates had actually asked my mother for her permission beforehand. And he also had the approval of his mother and family. What a bad man I engaged myself to.
The reaction upon my return from those same critics was one of despair. What had happened to me? I was having some sort of mental breakdown because this was my fortieth year after all. Perhaps I was experiencing some sort of midlife crisis. Whatever it was, I needed help for my ridiculous behaviour.
The warnings soon returned: Socrates only wanted me for UK citizenship, and he would break my heart after using me. Of course, British people never use their partners and all Western relationships last forever without any problems.
Both Socrates and I are well aware that our relationship has more hurdles in it than one we would have had if we had dated men in our own countries. I didn’t expect some of the reactions I received from gay men, though.
If I had dated a British gay man, I wouldn’t have received the same criticism and warnings. Plus, we wouldn’t have to face that moment when we must convince UK Immigration that our love and relationship is genuine just so we can live together as a married couple, and then pay over £1400 for the privilege. Can you imagine if they subjected British gay relationships to that?
If Socrates were already British, I could have engaged him after a month and then married two months later. We wouldn’t have faced the racism and discrimination we have. And no Immigration Officer would look at us with a suspicious eye because apparently we have married too fast. I would love to know what is the appropriate amount of time, and what this is based on.
The discrimination annoys me, especially with it coming from other gay men and just racism dressed up as concern, but we are both strong enough, and our love is strong enough to survive it.
Despite the criticism and racism, it is definitely worth it. I would recommend to any fellow British gay man dating a gay Filipino to stick with him. If your relationship and love is genuine then nothing should stand in your way.
You will have more hurdles, and have to be both patient and determined, but all this has done for me and Socrates is increase our love for each other. And it has definitely built a strong foundation for our relationship.
Socrates is the best man I have ever met, and the best thing to happen to me. I have not been in love before, and no one has ever loved me as he does. Yes, I am keen to marry him and have him live with me in the UK. I am just like any other person in love: I just want to live with, and spend the rest of my life with, the person I love. Just because I am British and he is Filipino shouldn’t make any difference.
Gay relationships and marriage are not just the privilege of British or Western gay men.