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High school sweethearts continue sharing their passion at UTEP

Photo courtesy of Damian Padilla
Damian Padilla adjusts his boyfriend Angel Garcia’s bow tie. The two met during high school and they have been together since.

High school sweethearts usually don’t last forever, especially after starting college. However, some couples make an effort to stay together beyond the realms of high school.

“I was supposed to go to Andress High School and he was supposed to go to Jefferson, but we ended up going to Silva,” said Damian Padilla, a 20-year-old sophomore communication studies major. “I became a cheerleader and he was in the marching band. At the time I had no idea who he was, but he told me he would look at me from far away and that I caught his attention.”

His boyfriend, Angel Garcia, a 19-year-old freshman majoring in speech pathology, and member of the UTEP symphony orchestra, said that they met about four years ago.

“I believe in love at first sight because that’s what happened to me,” Padilla said. “I fell in love with him right away, so love at first sight really happens and so do high school sweethearts because he is my high school sweetheart.”

Back in high school, Padilla and Garcia had the same interests as today. Padilla is a member of the UTEP Golddiggers and Garcia is a percussionist with the symphony orchestra. Garcia said that part of what brought them together are the similarities they both share for the arts.

“In high school, before every game, we would give each other a type of good luck hug or kiss, and even now he would always tell me things I need to improve and vice-versa. We are the number one supporters of each other.” Padilla said.

As in any other relationship, Garcia and Padilla have had their ups and downs—from fights to going their separate ways for a period of time, to getting back together. Still, however, they hold onto a dream to eventually open up a studio and teach dance and music. 

“I always try to teach him some dance. This has always been a curiosity he has had in the back of his head and the same for me because he is a percussionist,” Padilla said. “It’s sort of like a plan we have and that’s also what keeps us together.”

Knowing each other for almost five years, Padilla said that as a couple, they realize that now that they are in college, they are now getting older and they need to make good decisions to realize those dreams in the future.

“A relationship takes time and patience. It’s a 50-50 thing and you need to be willing to work things out,” Padilla said. “When you love somebody, you have to look past all disagreements and each other’s flaws to make something beautiful happen.”

Beyond the adversities they face as any other couple, they are aware that as a gay couple there might be some challenges when it comes to society.

Garcia said that although they never faced any struggles in school or public areas for being a gay couple, it’s at his home where  obstacles come.

“My parents are pastors, very religious and they’re against the homosexual point of view,” Garcia said.

“I used to have problems when we were dating because they found out and they restricted me from going out with anyone, thinking I would go out with him, and to this moment it’s still very hard.”

Garcia shared that although his family does not accept his homosexuality, it is at Padilla’s home where he feels most welcomed.

“When I spend time with his family, I wished my family was like that, but it is sad things can’t be like that,” Garcia said.

Even as they face the disapproval of Garcia’s family, he said that being happy with one another is what keeps them going.

“We don’t let other things or people get in the way,” Garcia said. “It’s kind of sad on the inside that they don’t accept us, but when I’m with him I’m really happy.”

As a gay person and young adult, Padilla said that it’s fine to be who you are, and that there is a more progressive society that accepts people as who they are.

“And for people who have parents like him, just take it day by day and don’t let that be the thing that shakes or breaks you,” he said.

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Claudia Flores, Editor-in-chief
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High school sweethearts continue sharing their passion at UTEP