Jethro Patalinghug met Neil Torrefiel at a barber shop almost three years ago.
“We met at a salon called Beauty Image Salon in the Excelsior,” Neil said. “We were both there to get our haircuts. Jethro happened to be there with a mutual friend of ours.”
“We had a common friend who introduced us,” Jethro seconded. “He accidentally left his sweater and I took it and returned it to him after a few weeks.”
That led to dating “for about three months”. The two even “went back to the Philippines together for 2012 New Year’s Eve celebration. When we got back to the US, that’s when I knew we were getting serious.”
In hindsight, “I fell in love with him at the barber shop,” Jethro smiled.
For Neil, “I discovered I was in love when I realized he filled a part of me that was missing in my life,” he said. This would be “about 6 months into our relationship.”
Considering that they are currently based in San Francisco, their relationship is part of the norm. “Maybe in general (our relationship is stereotypically gender non-conforming), but I guess our location and immediate environment, and the culture that comes with it allows us to be (part of the norm),” Jethro said.
Neil agrees. “Between the both of us in our day-to-day lives, I don’t feel there are any challenges. We tackle roles and responsibilities as they come to us, and we assume them naturally because we don’t have personal context of anything otherwise.”
As such, “I don’t see any challenges we face as a couple, but individually we are faced with challenges and it is more related to being gay and Asian. There is racial discrimination within the gay community and the community at large. Not to mention if you are Filipino.”
Particularly for Jethro, Neil’s mother “still does not accept him and continues to bully him with religious terrorism. I support him by always being there for him when it happens,” he said.
For Neil, “externally, I’ve found some challenges with family (assumptions), work, and possibly marriage equality issues across the nation.”
Neil is appreciative of “our ability to be unabashedly empathetic and honest with each other,” he said. He added that it makes him happy “knowing that my partner is just as concerned and invested for my happiness and well-being, as I am for his.“
As the two are already “exploring the idea of raising our own children,” Jethro beamed, he is – for now – celebrating the best thing for him in their relationship. “With Neil, I am given a chance to do things better,” he said.
As for Neil, “there are the conventional short-term goals of advancing in our careers, having a child and dog, and purchasing real estate one day. But we make it a point not to be too transfixed on future plans. We live in the moment, and live for each moment. From day one, we agreed to the idea of impermanence, that nothing is ever permanent, and that time and life is fleeting. While goals are necessary, we value knowing that we have the NOW, and appreciate each and every second we get to share experiences and love one other.”