A Piece of Advice
Safe Spaces for Your First Gay Date in the Philippines
Going on a first date can sometimes require a lot of preparation. You have to think of what to talk about (yourself, but not too much), what not to talk about (your ex), what questions to ask, what to do, and, of course, where to go.
Gay couples in particular might find it difficult to find the a good date place. Unfortunately, there’s still the question of physical safety. Some places may put queer people in the way of hate crimes. Even if they’re not in any physical danger, couples might also experience microaggressions from other people, and that obviously doesn’t make the most conducive environment for a budding romance.
That’s why queer safe spaces are important for dating. At the very least, they give couples a place to feel accepted and welcome.
But there’s also the question of finding the right safe space. For example, if you’re dating someone who isn’t out yet, you might not want to go to a place that’s known primarily for hosting queer people. Since there tends to be few established safe spaces in an area, some people may also want to go for less popular options to avoid running into any awkward exes.
Here we list some spots around around Manila where gay couples can feel comfortable to be themselves and get to know each other.
Butterboy Bakehouse has made a name for itself through its croissants as well as its weekend daytime drag shows. It’s a great place to go on a more “conventional” date (coffee and pastries) with some queer flair (the drag shows). This is especially good for queer couples who want to veer away from the nightlife and explore their love in the light of day, something they should be able to do anyway.
Another thing that makes Butterboy Bakehouse a great date spot is that if you find you and your date don’t have much to talk about, you can just cheer the drag performances on. But seats for the drag shows sell out fast, so make sure to book yours in advance.
The Pop-Up in Quezon City
The wide al-fresco area and lively, diverse crowds are great for keeping things casual but still cool. The student-friendly space has become a go-to for many queer people. That’s a good thing if you and your date feel comfortable around a crowd and don’t mind running into anyone you know. Joining groups of friends is also a great backup plan for if the date goes south. There are a lot of dining options in the space, too, so there’s bound to be something for you and your date.
The Bouldering Hive in Makati City
Bouldering is all about knowing when to hold on and when to let go—just like dating. The Bouldering Hive is a gym known for opening up the sport to beginners and welcoming everyone to try. They’ve also made a clear effort to include queer people in that invitation. It has hosted Pride nights featuring queer athletes and coaches, who still go to the gym after the celebrations.
Sports has always been a contentious space for queer people. Only recently did international athletes start coming out, and there’s still an on-going debate on the “fairness” of letting transgender people compete in their gender’s events. If sports is something you and your date want to connect or reconnect with, The Bouldering Hive may very well be the place to do it.
The Spirits Library in Makati City
Sometimes the best safe spaces don’t make a big deal out of being a safe space.
The dim lights, good music, and many nooks and crannies of The Spirits Library are perfect for escaping into your own little spaces, something queer couples may find difficult to do. It’s located conveniently enough in Poblacion, Manila’s nightlife hub, but still affords you all the privacy you might want and need for a first date. That’s what makes the Spirits Library a great option for queer dates—it’s discreet. This is especially good couples who aren’t out, or want to minimize the chances of running into any past flames. The frequent live musical performances and wide selection of booze don’t hurt either (drink responsibly!).
Prism Restaurant in Batangas City
Queer dating can make crowds and cities feel uncomfortably small, and sometimes you and your date may just need a breath of fresh air.
Away from the city and with a beautiful nature view is Prism Restaurant. Friendly staff serve fancy dishes made with local ingredients in a picturesque and homey setting. Many queer people in the Philippines still don’t feel comfortable being themselves at home, so going on a date in a place that feels like one could be a welcome change. This is also the place to go if you’re looking to impress and get away from the sometimes intimidating queer urban spots. Bonus: The drive from and to the city is a great litmus test for whether or not you and your date will run out of things to talk about.
Source: Romano Santos, VICE
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