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Young love wins

Engaged seniors overcome adversity

After+dating+for+almost+three+years%2C+seniors+Mariah+Patlan+and+Cerin+Collier+got+engaged+over+Spring+Break.
After dating for almost three years, seniors Mariah Patlan and Cerin Collier got engaged over Spring Break.

After dating for almost three years, seniors Mariah Patlan and Cerin Collier got engaged over Spring Break.

Photo by Maritza Quintero

Photo by Maritza Quintero

After dating for almost three years, seniors Mariah Patlan and Cerin Collier got engaged over Spring Break.

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It is the spring break of 2017. In Corpus Christi, a young couple walks under the lights of a starry night. They are so in love and just enjoy the time together. Nothing else in the world matters to them. It is quiet, with only background conversations to be heard. Unexpectedly, senior Cerin Collier bent down on one knee, holding senior Mariah Patlan’s hand, and professed her love by asking Patlan for her hand in marriage.

“I was really shocked, and I was happy at the same time,” Patlan said. “I cried and I had mixed emotions. Not bad mixed emotions but more of ‘What do I do? Do I cry? Do I laugh?’ I don’t know. It made me very happy because I was messing around with her, telling her things like ‘Oh look my cousin just got engaged. Oh look these people got engaged’ and she was just telling me ‘Just hold on. Just wait a little bit.’ And then, it happened. I had butterflies, and I still have butterflies every time I see her.”

Not everyone looks upon their relationship in an approving manner. Usually when out in public Patlan is the one to say or do something to anyone who disrespects them while Collier is the more laid back of the two, not letting the hatred bother her.

“I’m the feisty one I would say,” Patlan said. “When someone looks at me in disgust when I’m with [Cerin] I usually say something. But I just try to handle it. It’s whatever. If they don’t like it, [they] don’t have to. I love her, [they] don’t have to love her. My thing is that it doesn’t affect [how] I feel about her. I don’t know why [our relationship] affects other people.”

The couple has faced adversity throughout their entire relationship. Even after legalizing gay marriage in the United States in 2015, some of the local community is still hesitant to accept the LGBTQ+ community. While Collier and Patlan’s own families have been accepting of their relationship, the pair knew they would receive opposition by those who disapprove.

“I was nervous but only because it was a new relationship,” Patlan’s mother Crystal Rivera said. “I felt some people might not approve of them being gay, [and] I didn’t want them to deal with hate.”

This adjustment of a new relationship was not just for the young couple. Collier’s mother especially had to change the preset expectations she had for her daughter.

“It was a bit strange when Cerin and Mariah started dating because I had to shift my paradigm from past expectations of having a girl who has chosen a girl,” Collier’s mother Tara Collier said. “So you’ve got the [feeling], ‘OK, she’s gay’ on top of ‘OK she’s in her first real relationship’…[it’s] a lot to process at the same time. Cerin was my challenging child. If I had her fist, we would have stopped there. Poor Hart wouldn’t have been born. Life happens all at once with her. Sometimes I just grab on and try to enjoy the ride [and] I hate roller coasters.”

This newfound commitment is what the two always wanted for each other. They met while Patlan was on a date with someone else at Cosmic Jump during the summer of 2014. The couple soon sparked a new relationship and came to love each other. They loved that they could be who they really are with one another.

“We have been dating for almost three years now,” Collier said. “My thing is if you’re going to date for a long time, there has got to be something there. There has to be a potential for marrying. That’s what I see in Mariah. I love her. You can love a person without liking who they are. But I love her, and I love who she is.”

After high school Patlan plans to move in with Collier, and the two will attend a vocational college together as their secondary education. After college they hope to move out into their own apartment and start their lives with each other. The couple wants to wait to get married until they are on their own and can support themselves.

“At first we thought March of 2019 until I talked to my mom about the whole engagement,” Patlan said. “Whenever we get out on our own in our own apartment then we can start looking into things on the dates that we want to get married on. We won’t just jump right into it. We could be engaged for ten years and still be happy.”

The actual commitment of being engaged means a great deal to both Patlan and Collier. They want to make sure after high school they stay together no matter what. Their love is important to them, so being engaged proves to themselves and others the love they feel for one another.

“I think it’s a thing of commitment,” Collier said. “There are some people who just go off and get married in a courthouse. They don’t really have time to get engaged. The engagement is another commitment to the person that you love.”

Both girls have a strong support system at home. Both families have been supportive as Patlan and Collier start their lives together. The Rivera and Collier families accept who their daughters are and welcome the addition of another daughter to the family.

“I love my Cerin,” Rivera said. “She’s a sweetheart, smart and handsome. I could never hate someone who makes my baby smile. She’s also very respectful for being a Packers fan.”

These feelings are mutual from the Collier Family.

“I love Mariah,” Tara Collier said. “She’s a funny, feisty and spunky person and has a good chemistry with Cerin. They bring out the good and strong traits in each other. It’s incredibly weird to think that my baby girl is engaged and in a long term, committed relationship. They seem so young…but, if things go as planned, they will be the same age Camron and I were when we were married.”

As Patlan and Collier look past the class of 2017, they look onto the future they know they will have with each other. The promise of a future they create together is reflected every time they look into each others eyes.

“[I look forward to] our family,” Patlan said. “Adopting and having our own kids and showing people that it is possible. I look forward to seeing how we bond and grow together.”

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