Happy Valentine’s Day from your Steering Committee at GAPIMNY!
We have prepared a special interview from two of our past Steering Committee members who happen to be celebrating Valentine’s Day as a couple: Rafael Flores, last year’s Co-Chair, and Matt Huang, last year’s Marketing Chair. Both of them took a few minutes from their post steering committee lives to answer some questions about their nearly 3-year relationship.
(Rafael on left, Matt on right)
How did you meet?
Rafael: On an app! We matched on Coffee Meets Bagel and started messaging while Matt was trapped on a five-hour bus ride from Boston with nothing to do.
Matt: It was actually a train ride! I remember Raf was reading a book, Wild by Cheryl Strayed, while we were messaging. Our first date was a week later at a pizza place in Chelsea called Co, followed by cake at Harbs.
What is one thing that you appreciate about each other?
Rafael: I really appreciate Matt’s commitment to improvement, of both himself and our relationship. He takes feedback very seriously and uses it to make specific, positive change.
Matt: I appreciate how Raf is much more in touch with his emotions than most people in my life. I grew up with tiger parents and went to engineering school, environments where being in touch with your feelings was detrimental rather than valued. Raf has made me realize how much fuller life is when you embrace your feelings.
How does your family react to your relationship?
Rafael: We’re really fortunate because in large part our families have been really wonderful. My mom really loves talking to Matt about skincare and is happy that he can order her good Chinese food. I also have a soft spot for Matt’s mom, even to the point of using her name in our wifi password at home.
Matt: My mom can’t pronounce Raf’s name, and my dad mistakenly thinks he’s Thai, but they will ask me how he’s doing and tell us to buy real estate, which is the ultimate Chinese sign of approval.
What traditions do you have as a couple that sustain the relationship?
Rafael: We watch Top Chef and RuPaul’s Drag Race every week. We also find every excuse possible to go out and eat at cool restaurants.
Matt: I like to surprise Raf on special occasions, like his birthday, by planning special experiences that bring us closer together.
What’s one of the most challenging issues you faced as a couple?
Rafael: Even after three years of being together, we’re still learning a lot about what we both need to feel loved. A friend once told me that life is “a long process of undoing all the f*cked up shit your parents did to you”. That rings really true for us in many ways, and we’re both still trying to better understand our histories while somehow being the best versions of ourselves.
Matt: What Raf says is definitely the most challenging thing, but another challenge was moving in together. The process of decorating an empty apartment was one that put a lot of strain on our relationship. Moving in brought many different issues to the surface: collaboration/organizational styles, views on personal finance, and merging our tastes in a way where both of us felt like we were at home. Figuring out the areas where each of us needed to compromise in order to make the relationship work was definitely not easy.
What other issues do you think queer API couples face?
Rafael: I’m no expert, but I have a hunch that many queer APIs might find it hard to be vulnerable, with romantic partners and otherwise. A lot of us didn’t grow up in families that encouraged emotional expression, which can make it hard to create a connection that’s deep and fulfilling.
Matt: What Raf said. Also, the lack of role models for queer API couplehood and the tendency for many APIs to be driven by conventional notions of success instilled in us by our parents. This makes it harder to build a relationship that is already considered outside the norm and that will continue to improve over time for both individuals.
We hope you enjoyed this small glimpse into this adorable couple. Catch either one of them at a GAPIMNY event near you!