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‘Who’s the woman in the relationship?’ and other inane questions gay couples are asked

Who’s the girl in the relationship? Which one is getting paid? No gay relationships last, right? These are some of the inane questions encountered by gay and bi couples. What other questions did you encounter?

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from

I was once asked to be the ninong (godfather) of a co-worker’s newborn son. And while in the binyag (Christening) somewhere in Pasig City, as soon as they found out their kumpare (fellow godfather) is gay and is in a relationship, the male godparents asked me in between shots of alcohol: “Sino ang babae sa inyo (Who’s the woman between the two of you)?”

This wasn’t the first time I was asked this, obviously.

And most times, I know there’s no bad intention in asking the question; just the curiosity of a mind that was taught that what’s “normal” in a relationship is having one man + one woman.

But the question merits closer scrutiny, and thus a lengthier response; suffice to say, an earful is what people get when they ask me this question.

To start: Gay men are, yes, men. So literally, there’s no “woman” in the relationship. Ha-ha!

But of course I know this question is actually more figurative – e.g. who, between the partners, does the roles stereotypically assigned to women (such the chores, particularly expected from those assigned female at birth, like cleaning the house, doing the laundry, et cetera); and, yes, who gets penetrated during sex.

The short answer: Either, both, or none.

That’s the thing with gay relationships: we look like we’re mimicking heterosexual relationships, but this isn’t always the case. Because… we can’t. We don’t have to. And here, it means both can be “female”, just as both can be “male”. Depending on talks between those in the relationship, both can do whatever chores, make a living, care for family members, and yes… get fucked, literally. At the same time, again depending on these talks, either can do any of these… or all of these. But none is trapped to what was defined.

But this line of question ought to have stopped already. We’re not in the Dark Ages anymore, and – Heck! – all types of relationships have been evolving.
Open relationships? Check!
Throuples? Check!
Polyamorous? Check!
Monogamous non-sexual relationship? Check!
And so on, and so forth.

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Now, sadly, this isn’t the only inane question still asked of gay people in relationships. And with Ewww, here are others that were encountered:

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from

Who pays whom?

Two things anchor this belief:

  1. That male = dominant sex; and
  2. Gay and bi men have to be “thankful” that the dominant male gave them attention (and yes, sex) so that they, literally, have to be servile, and while doing so, pay for this attention.

And so it is not uncommon meeting Filipinos who think that those in a relationship are only in it/staying in it because one of them (usually the assumed “masculine” one) is getting paid.

Uhhh… no.

This belief actually belittles those in relationships, assuming that they were “forced” into it, and stay in it only because they profit off it. This presupposes that gay and bi men do not and can not love; do not deserve to be loved; and that we’re only as good as our money.

A side note on this: Even if money (or whatever) is involved, it doesn’t “lessen” any relationship. Hello, heterosexual couples made this arrangement popular – e.g. Who here still believes that the father is the breadwinner, and the mother should stay home (unemployed and so solely dependent on the father’s moolah) to do “womanly things” by running the house? Nothing’s wrong with that if they agreed on that; but all the same, that’s just as transactional.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from

That’s how big the age difference is?

For being with someone much, much older than him, Ewww had been asked (repeatedly, he said) about the age gap between him and his partner. He admitted that, generally speaking, the interest is “acceptable”, particularly as people reconsider May-December affairs – that is, that they’re not necessarily automatically bad (when the involved are of age, obviously), and that they can also last.

The thing that bugs Ewww, though, is how this question is link to the earlier question about who’s paying who. Because there seems to be this assumption that the younger gay or bi man is only in the relationship because he gets something from the older gay or bi men.

This is ageist, obviously (Why isn’t the older gay or bi men the one getting sponsored?).

But this is, plainly, homo- and biphobic, particularly since the same “arrangement” has been “normalized” among heterosexual people.

Age (chronological, maturity level, et cetera) will always be there. If it’s okay among hetero couples, it should be for LGBTQIA couples, too.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from

It won’t really last, will it?

That gay and bi men “waste” time entering relationships even if they supposedly know these won’t last is another assumption that’s beyond silly. And for people to actually verbalize this assumption is, yes, fatuous.

To start: It’s not like hetero relationships last (e.g. Britney Spears was once married to her childhood friend Jason Alexander for 55 hours). Know that overseas, where divorce is legal, hetero couples have a divorce rate of 19%, compared to 16% for gay marriages.

Also: Even if relationships do not last, only those involved in it have a say on whether to pursue it or not; only their reason/s is/are valid. The others who concern themselves on others’ affairs are nothing but pakialamaera (meddlesome).

It’s 2023 already. And yes, we’re not THERE (wherever that is) yet, considering that in the Philippines, you can still be sent to jail for “offending” religious sensitivity (which reminds you of the Dark Ages, when blind faith trumped freedom of expression). But really… can we start attacking this senselessness already? 🤔 😜 😳

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The founder of Outrage Magazine, Michael David dela Cruz Tan completed BA Communication Studies from University of Newcastle in NSW, Australia; and Master of Development Communication from the University of the Philippines-Open University. Conversant in Filipino Sign Language, Mick can: photograph, do artworks with mixed media, write (DUH!), shoot flicks, community organize, facilitate, lecture, and research (with pioneering studies under his belt). He authored "Being LGBT in Asia: Philippines Country Report", and "Red Lives" that creatively retells stories from the local HIV community. Among others, Mick received the Catholic Mass Media Awards in 2006 for Best Investigative Journalism, and Art that Matters - Literature from Amnesty Int'l Philippines in 2020. Cross his path is the dare (guarantee: It won't be boring).


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