JIGS AND BEN (PART 2)
Yes, sliding into the DM's! I'll let Ben tell you about that, because the millennial initiated the messaging. Because, just to give you a brief background, I am 12 years older than Ben.
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BEN (B): I think when I was younger, probably in high school, I did have crushes who were girls--but then it was a struggle because I would feel attracted to men also. My first boyfriend was actually in law school. I was 20 years old. It was late for me.
JIGS (J): Well, what makes you gay is you’re attracted to men, right? But there were signs when I was young, and I grew up in a family culture where when we would have family gatherings where I would hear snide remarks from the uncles and aunts that I was soft, I was limp-wristed. I was a smart kid, so I guess the adults didn’t think that I wouldn’t be able to process what these people are saying, but I actually understood what they were saying, and it actually instilled a kind of fear in me to come out.
He was an inspiration, actually. A gay man who’s winning competitions in CrossFit.
That’s why it also took me a while, even though I had probably known since puberty hit that I was attracted to guys. But because of the circumstances surrounding my childhood, and even with my mom...Actually, I found it easier to come out to my dad. Same as Ben's--my mom's very conservative and throughout, Catholic. She was a lector in the Ministry in our local community. Believe it or not, I actually came out to my mom inside the church. She asked me point blank, inside the church.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF ONE ANOTHER
(B): I've known Jigs for 4 years, maybe. Through CrossFit, actually.
(J): We're both CrossFit coaches, we coach in different gyms.
(B): Jigs was already doing CrossFit when I found out about CrossFit. I was following him on Instagram. Well, I was impressed because Jigs was really strong when I started joining CrossFit. He was an inspiration, actually. A gay man who’s winning competitions in CrossFit.
It may sound cheesy, but it was when I met Ben. Despite the 12-year age gap, I think I have more in common with him than the other guys who I’ve dated before who were closer to my age...[Tells Ben] You don't have to answer the same thing, hahaha!
(J): I met Ben at a local competition, also. He was following me on Instagram, and he didn't realize that I actually remembered some instances when he would message me and ask me about getting his first pull-up or about certain things about CrossFit, and I would always be very accommodating with the questions. But we were both in relationships back then, so I didn't really think much of it during that time. I just felt like he was just somebody who looked up to me, who wanted to know more about CrossFit and was inspired by my journey to being an athlete and [being] in competitions, yeah.
HOW THE RELATIONSHIP STARTED
(J): Yes, sliding into the DM's! I'll let Ben tell you about that, because the millennial initiated the messaging. Because, just to give you a brief background, I am 12 years older than Ben.
(B): It was, I think, around August last year . I started messaging him. I just broke up with my ex. I didn't know he was single, but then I kind of felt that he was. I just didn't have the courage to ask him if he was single. It took a few months before I asked him. It was November when I asked him if he was single. Then he said “yes,” and then that’s when it started. I don't want to get into the details because it's kinda embarrassing on my end, haha.
Actually, I found it easier to come out to my dad.
(J): So yeah, the timeline is correct. Yes. I also broke up with my ex in July. We also just had recently started getting into competing also. We're both certified CrossFit level 1 trainers, so we were 6 months apart in getting our certifications. I just felt like we shared a lot of common interests and I keep telling him this, that I noticed the ‘glow up,’ so to speak, from the time when he first messaged me 4 years ago. When he messaged me [last year], when we decided to go out, of course I said ‘yes.’
MOST ROMANTIC MOMENTS TOGETHER
(J): He brought me to the airport in December . There was actually a letter where he expressed how much he loved me. It was a 3-page letter that he slipped into a package in my suitcase that I read on the plane. I appreciate these things, like letters, like handwritten notes.
(B): Jigs is very romantic. I think he gives a lot of effort to make you feel special. He would cook for me. Now that we are in quarantine [this was in May], he will drive me to work once a week, and I don't drive. Almost every day, he makes me feel special.
(J): Well for me, it was with my first boyfriend, I would say. I think your first heartbreak really kind of defines how you deal with your future heartbreak, that every other heartbreak was a walk in the park. But I think because it was a first, it was the hardest.
I would always say that you couldn't really describe the pain. It was both emotional and physical, because there were instances when you felt like you couldn't breathe. I remember walking around the university not knowing where I was going, or where I was. So it was really such an emotional time for me because I had just come out, and I was also going through a big break up. Just to give you a brief background also, I came out to my first boyfriend. He was the first person I came out to. But I guess that's what made it doubly hard. I felt like the person I trusted with this big secret all of a sudden abandoned me.
I don't want to get into the details because it's kinda embarrassing on my end, haha.
(B): Also my first boyfriend...We were together for 5 and a half years. When we broke up, I was about to turn 25. That same year I found out I didn't pass the bar. It actually caused me a lot of pain. That's why I decided to take that year off in 2015, and took the bar in 2016 instead--which was actually a wise decision.
ADVICE FROM THE YOUNG AT HEART
(J): Always try new things, get out of your comfort zone because that's the only way for you to be able to learn new skills or things you didn't know where possible for you to achieve. Like, I tried CrossFit at age 36. And then I started competing at age 38. I won all the competitions soon after that. Whoever said that it's too late for you to become an athlete at a later age is lying, because it's possible for you to be able to excel in certain things even though you're a certain age.
(B): It sounds very cliche, but I would say, “Love yourself first, before you love someone else.” Because I think you can't love someone fully if you don't love yourself.
That's what I think of this topic of, “Black Lives Matter”--it's all-encompassing and the LGBTQ community feels it's very important because of similar to our plight...
(J): It may sound cheesy, but it was when I met Ben. When we finally decided that we wanted to be together. Despite the 12-year age gap, I think I have more things in common with him than the other guys who I’ve dated before who were closer to my age. Ben is actually very mature, we share the same values. I respect the way he treats the law, and he works in government so I know how he values integrity and honesty. [Tells Ben] You don't have to answer the same thing, hahaha!
...Political beliefs, thoughts about religion, about sexuality, about injustice, and inequality in this world. I think these are things that partners should agree on...
(B): ...When I met Jigs, hahaha! I've never been drawn to anyone the same way I've been drawn to Jigs. So I know that he's, “the one.” We share the same values, the same principles--especially the more important ones like political beliefs, thoughts about religion, about sexuality, about injustice, and inequality in this world. I think these are things that partners should agree on, to have a lasting relationship. And that's why I feel that when I met Jigs, it was the most life-changing moment also for me.
IN THE NAME OF PRIDE
(J): With the current situation, social gatherings are not allowed globally. I encourage every openly gay man, lesbian, transgender, queer, gender-binary--everyone in the umbrella of the LGBTQ community--to make their presence felt online. Especially with everything that's happening in the world--the social injustices, racism.
There was actually a letter where he expressed how much he loved me. It was a 3-page letter that he slipped into a package in my suitcase that I read on the plane.
It’s a topic that is very sensitive, but it's also close to the civil rights movements in the states for African-Americans. It’s pretty close to our fight for gay and lesbian human rights. That's what I think of this topic of, “Black Lives Matter”--it's all-encompassing and the LGBTQ community feels it's very important because of similar to our plight, to what we're fighting for. And it's important, because it will trickle down to us also if we fight for it.
(B): I agree that there are a lot of things going on in the world that needs to be addressed. I encourage people to use their voice to make our leaders accountable. As long as within the bounds of the law, I encourage you to exercise your freedom of speech, your freedom to request from your government, to make your leaders accountable. I encourage people to speak up.