No, it wasn’t love at first sight.
Both Eric Alviar and Homer Zerrudo admit that.
“It was (in) January 2004. We were both members of the Gay Men’s Support Group (GMSG) – I was a few months in; Eric was a newbie. Eric was late but (he) made me look up, and I don’t remember if it was his eyes or his smile that first caught me,” Zerrudo recalls, fondly now.
“Yes,” seconds Alviar, “we were members of the GMSG. Homer was sharing his experience with his ex and how they had just broken up. My first impression of Homer was: ‘Wow, this guy has been through a rough relationship!’”
Thus, Zerrudo says, “It wasn’t love at first sight. There was attraction (at least on my part), but, at that time, I was going through my first break-up and it was emotionally messy. Not the kind of first impression that you want to give to somebody that you’re attracted to. Besides, I didn’t like the idea of using anybody as a ‘rebound’ so soon after my break-up.”
Looking back, “I didn’t really start talking to Homer until one evening, after the meeting, I saw he had a CD of one of my favourite artists, Duncan Sheik,” Alviar says. Another two weeks passed before “we had coffee (to talk, and) learned more about each other.”
From there, the ride moved, well, a little faster.
“After one of our coffee dates, he confessed that he liked me a lot,” Alviar continues. “I told him that I liked him only as a friend – in reality, I liked him a lot, too, but I had plans of moving back to the US, and I didn’t want to start a relationship with anybody. (But when I told) of my plans, we both agreed to give it a shot. I moved back to the US a year and a half later, and by then, our relationship was rock solid.”
On being an out couple, the two have diverging views. “I act according to how I feel, so when I feel the need to do PDA (public display of affection), I would. Eric, on the other hand, is more reserved. He’d hold on to me but only at the elbow, which I’d shake loose so I could hold his hand,” Zerrudo says. “It’s just Eric’s personality – he says he’s vanilla; with me, I think, he acquired a little more flavour.”
It helps, of course, that both are out as individuals.
“I came out after high school, and have lived happily ever since,” Alviar says, adding with a smile: “Besides, I’m a bit childish and effeminate, so it was never a mystery.”
For Zerrudo: “I’ve been out since I was 24 (I’m 37 now), and (since coming out) I could not think of one occasion when I wanted to go back in (the closet). So every relationship I had I made sure not to hide it with the people who mattered to me. I think that in my case, truth made people shut up and stop speculating.”
Following “our own set of rules, not everybody else’s” is, says Zerrudo, important. “Everybody is entitled to their own beliefs as I am entitled to mine. Relationships are hard to work out, gay or straight, much more if there are pressures from society. One can only hope for the best and put your best effort in any relationship to make it work.”
Zerrudo considers as the biggest challenge for them “looking after our future.” “Eric’s kind of apolitical, but I’m not. I think the fight for our future as a couple begins with the recognition of the legitimacy of our relationship – I don’t give a crap whether this is done by civil union or domestic partnership, what matters to me is that we are given legal recognition and the appropriate legal rights as a couple,” he says. “Before we even get to marriage, we have to secure our political and legal rights. I wouldn’t want to get married in any place that would not guarantee recognition of my relationship with Eric or give him the right to decide for me if I should become incapable of doing so. I’d recommend that we work for legal right, first, rather than marriage which is, at best, more symbolic.”
For now, though, it’s all about looking forward to an even stronger relationship. “We took a while to become a couple, so that by the time we ‘officially’ became a couple, I already knew that he would be the one. I knew so much about him, and vice versa. We may not have the same interests or have similar backgrounds or upbringing, but we share the same values and dreams. At that point I thought to myself: ‘I could spend my life with this guy,’” Alviar says.
When asked how we knew his partner is the right one for him, Zerrudo says: “You just know. There’s no defining moment – you just feel that ‘This is it’ and take it from there. I understand Eric and he understands me – and that is a load off anyone’s back: to have someone understand the real you and accept you for who you are. That’s why I love him.”
And the best thing about being in this relationship?
“Being served breakfast in bed,” Alviar says, then laughs loudly. “Just kidding – it’s just one of the services that I receive being in this relationship.”
“The best thing? Waking up with the one you love right beside you,” Alviar ends.