Rev. Michael Angelo Sotero of Metropolitan Community Church-Metro Baguio (MCCMB) and Gregory Rugay met on a gay social site (tagged.com). “He was a random friend request that I accepted, saw his pictures, saw that he was married to another guy, and for a long time he was just that, another online acquaintance I didn’t even talk to,” recalled Gregory Rugay, originally of Cagayan de Oro City.
After some time, Rev. Myke “saw a notification that it was Jojo’s birthday, so I posted a birthday greeting,” Rev. Myke said. “That’s how we started exchanging messages, numbers, et cetera.”
Gregory – with a smile – elaborated: “Incorrigible flirt that I am, I responded (to his message) with ‘Bakit hindi mo ako hinintay? Crush pa naman kita!’, which he took seriously and told me that he was then already a ‘widower’. I took a second look at his profile and realized that his older brother was an officemate at a telecommunications company where I used to work as an auditor. It was a rare chance since, back then, I lived in Mindanao and he in Baguio City. But that’s when the friendship started, and everything just progressed really fast from there.”
In about two weeks, in Rev. Myke’s estimation, “we met in Manila, and took him with me to Baguio where he (has been living) his new life ever since.”
“In a month’s time, I was already living in Baguio,” Gregory seconded, “and still living here after more than three years.”
Gregory could not “exactly remember when I realized I was in love (with Rev. Myke). I think it was when I knew that all things fell into place. He was like a solution to what I wanted in my life at that time, realizing that his traits are what I should be looking for in a lifetime partner. Until now, I think that it was part of the Lord’s plan that I come to Baguio and that I would be partnered with someone like him. It’s a perfect partnership.”
Rev. Myke couldn’t recall that exact moment, too, when he knew he was hooked on Gregory. But “when you are in love, you just know it. It’s an unspoken feeling that you know is there. You feel the spark, and (you are) sure that it’s real,” he said.
What remains a challenge for the couple now, said Gregory, is “like in any other relationship, which is working through and overcoming our differences. We are totally different people, and have opposite personalities. Accepting these differences and being understanding of each other’s characters is a process and calls for a lot of patience and humility.”
Since he helms MCCMB, Rev. Myke said that “keeping up with the LGBT ministries while struggling financially to survive (is also a challenge).” That they have each other helps; as well as having the support of each other’s family, since “we have no problem about family acceptance; we are both out to our families.”
For Rev. Myke, “being accepted by both of our families matters so much for me. I had past relationship where we needed to hide in our closets whenever (the former boyfriend’s) family was around. I was not comfortable with that set up.”
Acceptance is a vital issue for both. “The best thing (in this relationship) is in knowing that someone accepts you for who you truly are. You can be just yourself – the good things and the bad, and knowing that someone accepts and love you for all that and despite of that. It is a very liberating feeling,” he said.
The couple does not have plans “etched in stone,” said Gregory. “The world is constantly changing and we respond according to how the world needs us to be and how we feel we should tackle the challenges. We just know that we’re in this together now, and face and work for the future with each other in mind.”
As for Rev. Myke? The future may hold a holy union, “and we’ll take it from there.”