Same Sex Relationship in Dumaguete
John and Marty have been in a same sex relationship for twenty-five years. They formally married in San Francisco on June 5th 2009. In March 2016, they flew from San Francisco to Ninoy Aquino International airport in Manila. Next was a short flight to Dumaguete where they began their retirement lives. So, what are their life stories, why did they decide on the Philippines, and why, in particular, did they select Dumaguete to live in?
John, now aged 60, is originally from Boston which has a strong Irish American and staunchly Catholic community. John’s family was academic. Both his parents were university professors. John attended Boston College majoring in computer science.
He completed a post-graduate degree at M.I.T. with a focus on internet marketing and technology. He was offered several jobs with prestigious firms, and also two full scholarships to attend Harvard or Stanford law schools. He worked for a prominent Wall Street firm for several years before he was recruited by Google in Silicon Valley. He remained with Google until his retirement.
Marty who is 62, was born and raised in a small town in Utah called Mt. Pleasant. He has five sisters. His father was a medical doctor who met his wife when she was working as a nurse. After they married, she became a stay-at-home wife, then mother.
Marty was conservatively raised according to the rules of the Mormon religion. He was bright academically. Learning always came easily to him. He graduated from Bingham Young University with an honors degree in graphic design. He subsequently, against his parents’ wishes, went to the The University of San Francisco to complete a master’s degree. After that, he worked with a prominent advertising firm and continued to make a career in advertising throughout his working life.
Growing up in Boston, it became clear to John at a relatively young age that he had no interest in the oppositive sex. While his schoolmates were busy hooking up, John founds himself online looking at male-orientated web sites. When he was 17 his parents sat him down and asked him about his sexuality. They’d noticed, unlike his friends, that he had no crushes on girls and had never, to their knowledge, dated. Although not sure himself about his sexuality, John had wondered and felt sufficiently comfortable to tell his parents that attraction, if any, was for him towards boys, not girls. They left the matter at that. In college, he had his first affair. It was with a student who was in his final year. After that, John had no doubt about his sexual preference.
Marty had a significantly different experience when growing up. Being raised in a conservative Mormon environment, he was expected to go on a mission spreading the word of his religion, attend college, then marry and have many children. He suspected from a relatively early age that he was gay. He really had no doubt about it because he was oblivious to the allure of the girls other boys drooled over while he was seriously attracted to the drooling boys. But he had to keep everything to himself. Homosexuality was taboo in Utah. He kept his secret because there was nobody he could share it with. Had he told his parents, he would be ostracized and radical steps would have been taken to cure him of his mental illness.
The first disruption with his parents came when he refused to go on a mission to Nicaragua. His parents were embarrassed and refused to talk with him for months. He further angered his parents by saying the indigenous people in Nicaragua were already spiritual people with their own concept of God. They didn’t need the Mormon church to make them better in the eyes of God.
He further angered his parents by insisting on living away from home while attending Bingham Young University. The relationship further soured when Marty applied for and was awarded a full scholarship to a Jesuit run institution, the University of San Francisco, to study for a master’s degree. He completed his master’s program then decided on the advertising business as a career.
The final break with his family came when Marty wrote to his parents telling them about John and his love for him. He never received a response to that letter nor to any subsequent ones he wrote. He stopped calling the family home in Utah because the entire family always put the phone down when hearing his voice. It still saddens Randy that no reconciliation happened with his parents prior to their deaths.
John and Marty met at a Gay Pride parade in San Francisco in 1993. The attraction was immediate and and their same sex relationship has prevailed over the past 27 years. Because of their solid financial condition, they could have chosen to live anywhere. That begged the obvious question, why the Philippines, and specifically why Dumaguete?
Prior to their retirement, John and Marty had traveled to several countries with the intention of considering each as a retirement destination. They went to Costa Rica, Uruguay, France, Thailand and the The Philippines. While each country had its attractions for various reasons, they eventually decided on the Philippines. They liked its physical location, the twelve hours flight to San Francisco, the benign tropical climate, the modest cost of living, and, perhaps most of all, the warmhearted people. English being spoken was also an important factor.
They finally choose Dumaguete for a variety of reasons including its endorsement by the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA) as the best place in the entire archipelago to retire. They were also influenced by Forbes Magazine confirming Dumaguete as one of the best places in the world to retire. Additionally, because of John’s work background, he enjoyed researching options. Time and time again, the data he gathered pointed towards them moving to the Philippines.
“Our only concern,” says John, “was how people would accept us as retirees in a same sex relationship, or if indeed they would. Because the Philippines is such a staunchly Catholic country, it seemed likely us being a same-sex couple would be met with hostility, or possibly worse.”
Marty continued “We were probably oversensitive to those possibilities in the early stages, but not anymore. What we discovered in Negros Oriental and Dumaguete in particular, was people don’t give a hoot about what sexuality a person has. They measure, they judge a person solely on his behavior, how he relates to others. If he treats others with respect and dignity, that’s precisely how he will be treated. The converse also applies.”
“Two other factors quickly became clear to us.” continued John. “The first was the primary focus for most people here in the Philippines is putting food on the table for their families, caring for their extended family, rather than being concerned about anyone’s sexuality. It’s irrelevant to them. Also, despite what one would expect because of the Catholic church’s influence, there’s a delightfully calm attitude towards sex. It’s seen as a natural part of life, which, of course, it is. There’s no need for it to become unnecessarily complicated. Another factor is that almost every Filipino family has a gay male or ladyboy within their extended family group. Gays are seen as part of the natural order and not a threat to society as in many other countries.”
“While we appreciate the low cost of living here, we’re fortunate to be financially comfortable.” Says Marty, “The primary consideration for us was to feel comfortable in our sexuality, and have our loving relationship accepted. We’ve experienced that and so much more. People in Dumaguete respect us for being well behaved, decent participants in the Dumaguete way of life. While there is not a large gay community here, there is a gay pride day held every year. We’re always happy to participate in that.”
“Federally binding Laws have been enacted that strengthen the rights of gays and transgender people, so a same sex relationship does not have to stay out of site, out of mind. Even some churches here now recognize gays with pastors performing marriage ceremonies despite them not having federal recognition. There are encouraging moves in the Senate to recognize marriage between people in in a same sex relationship. But it will take time for that to happen despite the fact all polls show a majority of Filipinos approve of gays and feel they should have the same protection and rights under the law given to non-gays.’’
Marty ended our interview with the following “We committed ourselves to stay in Dumaguete for a year to determine if it was the right place for us. But we were so pleased with our experiences, we moved ahead after six months with plans to build our dream home close to the beach in Dauin. Incidentally, the overall cost was 20% of what we would have paid in California.”
“The Dumaguete area is where we’ll gratefully live for the remainder of our lives. We enthusiastically encourage any other people in a same sex relationship, searching for a retirement location to look no further than Dumaguete. A wise expression here says there are no strangers for you in Dumaguete, only friends you haven’t yet met. So, come and meet your friends!”
If you are in a same sex relationship and are considering Dumaguete as your retirement destination, please contact us for more information about what to expect