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5 relationship lessons to learn from Angelina and Joey Mead King

It has been almost a year since motel heir and luxury car enthusiast Ian Angelo King, now known as Angelina Mead King, came out as a transgender woman. Making this decision wasn’t the easiest, but Angelina didn’t have to cope with it alone — her wife and former Asia’s Next Top Model mentor Joey Mead King showed unconditional support to her life-altering decision, right from the beginning.

The couple firmly stood by each other’s side through the tough public announcement and, since then, still remain madly in love with each other. In fact, they managed find fun ways to stick together while adapting to the changes in their lives – challenging the traditional views on marriage.

Now regarded as the most progressive couple in the Philippines, Angelina and Joey Mead King have taken a bolder step by deciding to share their incredible love story on The Kings – a part-documentary, part-reality TV program on cable channel TLC Southeast Asia and on its Facebook page.

But the programme isn’t just about Ian transitioning into Angelina. Premiering today at 9pm, the show delves into how the couple’s relationship has adapted and developed in the public eye, and reveals their secrets to a thriving and loving marriage.

Evidently, much hard work was needed to make such a relationship last through the difficult times. Here are 5 things that we’ve learned from Angelina and Joey:

1. Be true to yourself and your partner.

Joey Mead King
A year after her husband came out as a transgender woman, model Joey Mead King (left) still stands firmly by the decision of her partner, who now goes by the name Angelina. (Image by TLC Southeast Asia)

As early as two months into their relationship, Joey already suspected that Angelina (then Ian) liked wearing female clothes, when she saw women’s underwear in their laundry basket. A couple of days after this discovery, Angelina confessed to this.

“Earlier in our relationship, I already told Joey that I like feminine things. And for her, it wasn’t such a big issue because she works in the fashion industry. And it’s very, I guess, playful for her. So, when I decided to push forward [with coming out], it wasn’t such a big deal anymore,” said Angelina .

2. Communication is crucial.

Joey Mead King
A luxury custom car business owner, Angelina (left) remains passionate about cars, bringing her wife Joey along to the automobile expos she needs to attend all over the world. (Image by TLC Southeast Asia)

Coming out as a transgender woman was not planned at all. In the months leading up to her announcement, Angelina’s private Instagram account, which contained images of her in female clothing, began circulating among her circle of acquaintances. A couple of her friends even sent requests to connect to her secret account.

“Because it was locked, they couldn’t really see who it was.  I also had some people sending screenshots of me. People were discussing like, ‘Is that really him?’  ‘What’s happening?’  ‘Is it a prank?’  People thought it was a marketing tactic, and that day I opened an account,” Angelina recalled.

“I spoke to my wife and my step mum and they both agreed like, ‘What are you waiting for?  We’re ready.  Let’s do this.’  So, we unlocked the account [to make it public], and that’s how everyone found out,” she added.

3. Support each other through thick and thin.

Joey Mead King
By sharing their love story in a TV show, Angelina and Joey Mead King hope to encourage members of the LGBT community to stop living in fear. (Image by TLC Southeast Asia)

After learning about her partner’s penchant for cross-dressing, Joey showed her full support, introducing Angelina not only to lingerie but also dresses, skirts, blouses and makeup.

“So, I’ll be going through Ange’s wardrobe to help her out if we’re going to a dinner or a party, and I’ll find my skirt or my top [in her closet]. The other day, I found my shirt which I thought I had lost. It was on Angelina’s side,” Joey laughed in recollection.

“Now, I need to put letters on our things like A for Ange and J for Joey. This is frustrating! Thank God [we] don’t have the same foot size,” the Filipino-Iranian model added in jest. She also revealed she shares a couple of pieces with Angelina such as pencil skirts, which fit both of them.

4.  Do things together. And have fun doing it! 

Joey Mead King
Joey (left) and Angelina enjoy breakfast with their dogs in a scene from their new reality TV show on TLC, The Kings. (Image by TLC Southeast Asia)

As the owner of a luxury car business called Car Porn Racing, Angelina has always been a sports car enthusiast, while Joey enjoys travelling. And the Kings have found the perfect compromise to marry both their interests.

“Angelina has a business in the States.  So her work is always surrounded by cars. It’s always a car event and then I get a holiday out of it. So far, the best [travel destination for us is] Europe because Angelina gets to drive… It’s just really beautiful that her passion is cars. Her business is cars and I love travel. I love travelling with her,” said Joey.

The modern couple also professed their love for shopping, something they both enjoy doing together now more than ever. They are now on a mission to make Angelina’s wardrobe as massive as Joey’s.

5. Always fight for love.

Joey Mead King
Challenging the traditional views on marriage, the Kings has managed find fun ways to stick together while adapting to the changes in their life. (Image: TLC Southeast Asia)

When Angelina confessed she wanted to live like a woman regularly, Joey had a hard time accepting it.

“And I said, ‘What? But this [cross-dressing] is just fun, this is something for you and me, right? No, I can’t, I can’t,’… This is when I started having difficulty as a partner. I could hear his pain. I did understand – but there was a part of me that was like, wait, where are you going? So I had to deal with a lot of my own abandonment [issues],” Joey said in an interview with Rogue magazine.

Eventually, however, the model and host realised she still loved Angelina even if she came out as transgender.

“You can’t stop a charging train. So you jump along. I’m going in for the ride. It’s going to be a roller coaster, but I’m going to ride it until the wheels fall off – because I have fought hard for our love. We’ve been together for 10 years, and I’m not fazed by how Ian, Angie, my wife, my partner, my soulmate – all these titles – will look. Nothing. I don’t see it. I just see that I love you. And that’s how it’s always been,” she said.

Catch the premiere of The Kings on TLC Southeast Asia’s Facebook page and Discovery Channel Asia today (22 June) at 9pm.