It seems like I am always ranting about being single or how dismal the gay dating scene is. The truth is, I love the idea of love and think we could use some nice examples of successful gay relationships. In this round of #SpillSesh, I talk to several followers who are happily taken and get their advice on how they are making it work. Our second couple’s story actually had me tearing up! Alan (@kingofbluetiger), father of two, met Alex (@blueroyaltiger) on Surge mid-divorce from his ex-wife. The two instantly hit it off and got engaged and now make it work from two different countries. This one is longer but an amazing read!
- How long have you been in your relationship? Are you dating/engaged/married?
We’ve been together for 7 months, engaged for about 3. It may seem like a short time, but we simply “click” and neither of us has a single doubt we were meant to be together. Our engagement has simply been a mutual decision that we want to spend the rest of our lives together. Although we have also decided that for memory and story sake, Alex will surprise Alan at some point with a proposal since Alan has already had that opportunity with his ex-wife. 🙂
- How did you first meet your partner?
I, Alan, was in the middle of a divorce from my ex-wife. I always knew I was gay but felt obligated to remain closeted and to heterosexually marry due to pressures from the church and extreme fear of the repercussions of coming out. I also have two young children and thus feared the heartbreak and confusion they would have to go through. But the resulting decades of depression and isolation peaked in early 2017 leading to a failed suicide attempt. Coming out of that alive made me realize I couldn’t run from the real me another day and thus separated from my ex-wife. A few months later, I decided to brave the “gay world.” I’m quite introverted so the bar and dance scenes weren’t my cup of tea. Instead, I signed up with Surge, the gay dating app, as it didn’t seem to have the “hook up” reputation of Grindr and the like. A day or two after signing up, I received a “power like” from a very cute guy, 6 years younger. I didn’t immediately reciprocate because I didn’t think someone as cute as him would be truly interested in me. I was thinking he had to be looking for something more than friendship. Ultimately I took the risk and “liked” him back. We immediately started chatting and found that we had very similar personalities, likes, ambitions, etc. We decided to meet for coffee where I knew my heart was his after one look into his eyes and then four hours of conversation that felt like 15 minutes. The hook sank deeper and deeper the more we talked and met in person.
For me, Alex, I was on a vacation trip to Houston visiting family and dear friends. I was just brave enough to get out of a relationship that didn’t make me happy and wanted time for myself and heal. For Latin America, being part of the LGBT community can be complicated and hard; sexism and cultural misbeliefs are part of it too. So it was hard to actually meet an honest and overall good guy. After years of bad experiences and sad relationships, I accepted that there was no other option and stayed with “the best I could get,” even if I was not fully happy. Not being able to take it longer, I decided to finally leave the bad relationship I was currently in. It felt great even though I was scared at first and barely made the decision at all. Some time after that, while in Houston and after watching an ad so many times on Facebook about a new dating app called Surge, I decided for no particular reason to download it and give it a try. I guess that advertising really works after all. It was like any other dating app I guess, a lot of people just wanting quick encounters or people asking for $100 iTunes card. What’s with the iTunes cards? And then scrolling through the different profiles I saw this guy that looked decent and nice, had a handsome face and his profile information was actually honest. I decided to “power like” him and see what happened. Nothing happened. After some time I got a like back, we started to talk, and I discovered that this guy isn’t what I thought but actually better. Still I was a bit hesitant at first to go for a coffee as I was not sure what was going to happen considering I was only in Houston for a little while or if I should even date after my previous experiences. But that night at the coffee shop was the best thing that happened to me the whole year and now I don’t regret anything.
The relationship unexpectedly and quickly grew into something more than just friends and dates. When the time came for Alex to return home, we both knew we didn’t want our relationship to end and thus consulted an immigration lawyer. Due to Alan’s pending divorce, we had no choice but to “convert” to a long distance relationship until Alan’s divorce finalized and we could file for a fiancé visa. We’re very, very happy that both have now happened. Our future is currently at the mercy of the government which we’re quite nervous about considering the current president’s crack down on immigration.
- Is this a monogamous or open relationship?
Definitely monogamous. We both feel that basing relationships solely on sex are doomed to be superficial and thus likely to fail. But at the same time, we don’t disrespect those that can make it work. For us, we simply don’t want or need other men to subsidize our relationship and/or sex life. The reason is simple. We’re committed to each other, to each other’s happiness and to each other’s futures. To say that we need other men to satisfy us erodes away at the very core of our relationship and commitment to each other. If that core erodes away enough, the relationship fails completely. To summarize, there is simply no room for another man in each of our hearts.
- Did either of you have to overcome any “red flags” you first noticed about one another when you first started dating?
We didn’t notice any red flags per se although there were things about the other’s personality we recognize as different than our own. For example, Alan tends to be hesitant and cautious. Alex tends to be forgetful and gets distracted easily. Even though it hasn’t happened yet, we expect that in reality, at some point, these traits may get on the other’s nerves a bit. But we’re committed to open communication when and if this takes place.
- When did you first meet each others friends and family?
We both have met a selection of the other’s friends and family that know we are gay. We both have some that simply don’t even know that yet let alone we’re in a relationship. Most of Alan’s family is in Virginia so Alex has only met them through chat and video calls. Alan has made multiple trips to El Salvador where he’s met with many of Alex’s family and friends. We both still have significant family and friends to tell about us being gay and oh by the way, we’re getting married.
- What has been the biggest challenge of your relationship so far?
For me, Alan, it has been the distance. We chat all day long and video call every night. We do things together like playing Clash Royale 2v2, asking each other a “question of the day” then discussing, watching Netflix movies at the same time while chatting throughout the movie, etc. We find ways to be connected but it’s just not the same as sensing Alex’s presence next to me and experiencing him with all of my senses. I have to repeat to myself often that it’s only temporary. A perk of my work is that I work remote allowing me to work anywhere in the world with an internet connection and my laptop. To alleviate some of the torture, I’m able to visit Alex a couple weeks at a time around the time I’m allowed to be with my kids. We work the “business hours” but get to spend the evenings, nights, and at least a weekend together.
For me, Alex, it has been my current situation living in a Central American country with different economies. Mostly due to cultural differences and beliefs, it is hard for me to accept the fact that I am not able to be of great support or help for Alan from an economical point of view. I do not feel comfortable seeing Alan being the one that has to cover most of our expenses and it may be like that for more time even after marriage. It makes me feel weak not being able to be more fair about expenses. Even though we have talked about it and Alan has been very supportive about that, I dream about the day that we can share the burden instead of him being the one who deals with most of it.
- What has been the easiest part of your relationship so far?
It might be hard for some to accept, but for us, it’s literally the relationship itself. Our relationship feels natural, right and meant to be. Nothing feels pressured, forced or with doubt. We have similar interests, goals, and principles. We each enjoy building up, supporting, and pleasing the other. We don’t fight. We have healthy discussions in advance, even if the topic is uncomfortable. We accept that the day will come that we’ll disagree on something but we also agree that when that day comes, we’ll talk it through and not go to bed mad at the other.
There’s a song that we feel describes our relationship very well named Automatic by Castro. “Automatic / More than I ever imagined / And I’m stuck to you like static / Loving you is automatic / Just like magic / A mystery, and I can’t grab it / Everything I want, you have it / Loving you is automatic.”
- Do you have or do you want children with your partner and does any aspect of that make you nervous as a same sex couple?
I, Alan, have two kids, a 7 year old girl and a 5 year old boy. I made it very clear from the beginning that they are a very important part of my life and will continue to be so. So Alex will be an instant dad and I feel he will be a fantastic father 🙂 He’s patient, kind, sweet, respectful, and selfless. The challenge is that the kids don’t really understand why I “broke up with mommy,” are not ready for a step parent, and of course have no concept of same sex relationships. My ex-wife doesn’t agree with my chosen “lifestyle” for religious reasons but agrees that we need to find a middle ground that we are both comfortable with to teach the kids. We’ve agreed upon a children’s therapist to help the kiddos process the divorce, life after the divorce with mom, and life with dad as a gay man. The kids nor my ex has met Alex. My ex knows I’m in a relationship but not with who (that I know of). I plan to not introduce the kids to any partner until after discussing it with their mother and the kids’ therapist first.
For me, Alex, I never thought I would have children of my own blood. I am excited and nervous about being a stepdad. I worry if they will like me or accept me as this will be my first experience with kids like this. However I do like kids and I know they will be a fundamental part for our lives. I love Alan and he comes with the full package. I don’t worry if they will see me as a father figure in their life but I do hope they accept me and we can get along and give me the chance to demonstrate that I will be there for them too.
- What is one thing both of you have done differently in this relationship vs. your past relationships that you think has made this successful?
For me, Alan, it’s finally feeling like I can be the real me and feel truly connected to my soulmate. No masks, no lies, no secrets, no compromises. My ex-wife is an amazing woman and I feel absolutely terrible for what I put her through. I wouldn’t want any other woman to be the mother of my children. But I never felt connected with her. I was lying to her, myself, and to everyone else every day of my married life. I felt like we were in an obligated marriage, and as far as I’m concerned, it was one due to the pressures and expectations I felt from the church. I’m very thankful to have found Alex, who happens to be the first man I’ve been in an intimate relationship with. I’m free to be me, the real me, with no falsehoods or masks, and he loves me for it. I enjoy and desire to be with him versus the obligation I felt to be with my ex.
And for me, Alex, Alan has been the most pure, wonderful and sincere man that I’ve ever met, regardless if it is family, friend or lover. I’ve had bad experiences; met guys that we haven’t been in sync, that haven’t been honest, or that have been manipulative. I have met nice guys too, but we just didn’t have a real connection on a higher level. I always felt like there was something wrong, not fulfilling. Men tend to be insecure and hide things and lie, and that is extremely common in Latin cultures. I felt a real blessing when Alan came into my life because he’s the exception to all of that.
- If you could change one thing about your partner, what would it be (if anything)? What’s something you hope never changes about them?
For me, Alan, the one thing I want to change most is his location. 🙂 It’s tortuous for me to be so far away from him for such long periods of time. But if thinking about a character trait, I can’t think of anything specific. He’s not perfect, but I fell in love and committed myself to him as a package, the perfection in his imperfection. On the flip side, we aren’t living in a bubble as I fully recognize that there will come a time that we will have a significant enough event, or differing opinion, or something that causes negative emotions. It’s inevitable in any relationship. But when it comes, we’ve committed to deal with it in the open and work together to overcome whatever it may be. As for something I hope never changes, it would be his selfless and loving attitude. One of the many things that caused me to fall in love with Alex is his desire to serve others be it me, our family, friends, LGBT youth, or strangers.
And for me, Alex, I just love Alan for who he is, I wouldn’t change anything because that would be changing him. Still, I do understand that life is about changes and some are unavoidable but changes can be positive and we can change to be better and better. The one thing I wouldn’t want him to change is his transparency. I feel like he’s clear like mountain air, no lies, no secrets. He encourages me to open myself more and I feel comfortable being vulnerable in front of him, something that no one else ever made me feel before.
- Has this relationship made you better off as individuals? How?
We both feel the answer to this is absolutely yes.
For me, Alan, I feel like I can finally breathe, relax, have fun, and enjoy life having him by my side and me his. He gave me hope where the church said I’d never find what I was “truly looking for.” He has made me smile and laugh more in the months we’ve been together than my entire life summed up. He literally brought bright color into my very grey world.
And for me, Alex, he motivates me. Now that we are going to be together and stay together, I want to give him my better self, and keep improving myself to be a better person so I can give him my better self over and over again. I want to be the one who gives him the world, my world.
- Do you think it’s any harder for gay people to have successful relationships than heterosexual couples? Why?
Both of us come from a culture where gay relationships are looked down upon as wrong. For Alan, it was the Christian church. For Alex, the Salvadorian culture. These expectations of our cultures add pressure and doctrinated fears of being free to be an obvious couple when and where we want.
But also, let’s face it, as men, we tend to put an emphasis on sex and physical attractiveness. That’s why most of the dating apps have a reputation for mostly hookups or friends with benefits. As men, we also tend to avoid being vulnerable to not look “weak,” thus keeping relationships superficial. Not all men are like this of course, but certainly enough to say that as a gender, we have these tendencies. So when both partners happen to be male and happen to have tendencies to focus on sex and physical attractiveness, there’s the higher risk that the relationship doesn’t have deep enough roots to weather storms leading to failure.
- Did you have any examples of happily partnered gay couples to look up to or are you two winging it?
We’re totally winging it. We see seemingly happy couples on instagram but of course don’t know if they truly are.
- The key to a successful relationship is: trust, transparency, mutual respect, a lot of communication, honesty, fun, mutual goals, common beliefs, to dream together, and to be part of each other’s dreams.
- Any other thoughts, comments, advice, tips?
Together, we suggest to all to be sure to know who you are getting involved with and they should know you as well. The real you, not just the mask we all tend to wear. Also, seek each other’s happiness. For us personally, we find that we bring happiness to ourselves through experiencing and causing the other’s happiness. And it’s fun!
I, Alan, would like to like to speak to a unique group of LGBT: those trapped by the Christian church because the church is such a big part of my story. The Christian doctrine traditionally teaches us that we are an abomination. It teaches that God demands that we suffer in this life by denying our “sinful” and “fleshly” desires. I was closeted for decades because of these teachings. I was terrified that someone in the church would find out and I’d be ostracized. I felt obligated to live a lie than to face reality.
Please hear me when I say this from experience. Don’t believe that you are an abomination. Don’t convince yourself that your heart will change in time if you force the heterosexual life. Don’t lie to yourself or potential spouse. Don’t hide in fear. Don’t think that you are not loved. Don’t think you are alone. Don’t think you can never be happy. Rather, do know that you are absolutely loved. Do know that you are beautiful and worthy of love. Do know that you can have hope and live the life you dream of while being happy. Do know that there are others out there in the church just like you. Ultimately, it boils down to your conviction and doctrinal interpretations on whether you will allow yourself to be who God made you to be. But whether you choose to embrace it or deny it, I strongly encourage you to not lie about it or hide it. It will eat you from the inside out. I encourage you to seek out others living life fully as both Christian and gay. I promise they are out there as I am one of them. 🙂
And I, Alex, can only add to all of this, that it is easy to be deceived and seduced by the beauty of vanity and pleasure; however it is shallow and worthless. Sometimes we focus on only the fun and we don’t want to face reality that real things require effort and even some pain. We are afraid to face such challenges and rather live a lifestyle that’s all fun and following trends losing our individuality and our capacity to think on our own. Especially when others like us, people of the LGBT community, live it, repeating the same mistakes over and over again. But repetition does not transform a lie into truth, nor a lie becomes true just because the whole world believes in it. Don’t aim for the easiest things, as a true solid relationship requires commitment, effort and even some pain.