Their story is not like the ones in the movies, although it was something instant. It was, in their own words, meaningful and real.
“We’re not the sappy type; we’re very chill about our relationship. And we complement each other – me the artist and he the lawyer,” said Robin Tomas, the New York based fashion designer who is the son of comedienne and veteran actress Tessie Tomas.
Robin married lawyer John Charles Cocchiarella last December 20 at the Manhattan Marriage Bureau. The move came after being together for 10 years, and Charles and Robin decided to formalize their union in a simple ceremony at the City Hall in Manhattan.
Robin and Charles first saw each other online back in 2003.
“We shared memorable conversations through our computer screens, and we decided to meet in person the next day at Central Park,” Robin recalled.
Their relationship may be seen as one of the few successful relationships that started online, particularly since – for most people, arguably especially among men who have sex with men (MSM) – meeting someone online is not done for something serious. No thanks to the abundance of (infamous) social networking sites and mobile phone apps, in fact, so many of meetings derived from online just end up to plain hookups or one-night relations.
But it was different for Charles and Robin, since “we were together ever since, and we both get along very well with our families.”
Although they grew up from two different cultures, it didn’t become a hindrance in their relationship.
“We have many things we like to do together, and at the same time we are somewhat still different, which I think make us a good couple,” the Pinoy designer said.
Robin’s mother, Tessie, has been supportive of everything her son does – like the time when Robin decided to establish his own fashion line in New York. The same support was given when Robin decided to marry Charles.
“She was very happy about the marriage. We are very blessed to have loving and supportive families, who support us and love us. We both get along very well with our families,” Robin said.
Unlike other cities in the world, where LGBT couples still experience discrimination, Charles and Robin feel lucky that they live in a city where equality is being recognized and slowly being accepted by everyone. Same-sex marriage is recognized in the State of New York, under the Marriage Equality Act which was passed in 2011.
“There is equality in all major industries in New York City, and the people we encounter everyday respect us; they respect our relationship. We never had any problems or experienced any kind of discrimination,” Robin said.
But in a city like Manila, where political power play is still more valued than equality among its citizens, Robin said that “the Philippines is not yet there in terms of same-sex marriage. Hell, the country can’t even allow to suggest birth control methods! But I think there’s still hope…”
When asked how he sees his relationship with Charles in the future, “I see it going strong. But no kids in the horizon,” Robin smiled. “We are blessed with amazing nieces and nephews on both sides, and we love them like our own.”
Robin added that “like any relationships, same or different sex, it is work, coupled by respect, trust, compromise and love. It’s not something to be taken for granted.”
Robin Tomas is a New York based designer for his own label, TOMAS.
Visit his online store at TOMASNYC.com.