Pride can be so intimidating, loud, and appear to be something so fearless, yet some of us are not there yet, are not in a safe space to “come out”, or did not always feel this way. When we think about pride, it has lost its meaning from what it meant before. It became more of a celebration where hetero “allies” and corporation brands are invited to party with us without thinking of what it means to be in an exclusive lgbtqia+ space or even acknowledge that pride started with a riot created by trans Black and Latinx women such as Marsha P. Johnson and Slyvia Rivera. Before I start my story, I want to acknowledge my privilege as a cis-woman and how even though I am part of the queer community, there is always so much more work to be done.
June 30, 2018, originally published in Bold Latina
FOR THE “ALLIES”, DON’T STOP TALKING ABOUT US JUST BECAUSE IT IS JULY, WE SEE YOU. FOR CORPORATIONS THAT USE “PRIDE” BECAUSE OF MARKETING, JUST F*YOU.
As a kid, I remember having such a great femme uncle who would take care of my sister and I from time to time. One day, my parents left him in charge of looking over us and my sister and I were so excited because we knew he was always so much fun. When my parents left, all his queer and trans friends came to the house to play music, have great conversations and to a good time. My parents freaked out when they came back home because he not only brought strangers to the house, but he also brought queer and trans strangers to the house. In that moment, it was one of the first times I heard the word marica and then heard it several times afterwards from the Latinx community. I never asked my parents why they thought the strangers were bad people if they did not know them at all or I never asked why they reacted the way they did, I just kept my mouth shut. However, I never stopped being curious. This was not my first incident where queerness was brought up as something forbidden at my house. I remember kissing a girl named Stephanie inside the closet several times because we were both curious at the age of six, and my mother came in and hit me so hard. I did not understand why she hit me, but we never even talked about it afterwards. Just like my uncle, Stephanie left the house and I never saw her again.
When I was twelve years old, I would always see the parade while being in the car. I would always want to go outside and participate. My mother would say, “con esa gente no, Amy”, and I would respond, “do not say that about them, you do not know them” but that is also because I was already learning to identify with bisexuality in middle school. I knew that at the time, I would not be safe to come out, yet I knew I would eventually one day. I remember hanging out with my girlfriend after school, hold her hand in front of her parents, but then pretended to date boys for my parent’s pleasure. I remember my girlfriend at the time being called a “dyke” for dressing more masculine than feminine. I remember kids would make fun of me for going out with her and say, “didn’t think that was your type.” I remember my other partner being called “too feminine” to be into girls and did not take her sexuality seriously. “Too”, “too”, “too” much “too” little of everything, they wanted us to stop existing, to make us believe we never existed in the first place.
There were many moments in my childhood that has led me to once think that my queerness was toxic, that I was not real, that it was a “phase”, and that my parents or society would not accept me for being queer. On top of that, my unhealthy queer relationships were not helping. I needed someone that would tell me that I am okay, that my relationships are fucking valid, that my love was real—but there was none of that. There was no validation from people, the media, or even my own partners. In college, I began to feel all the internalized messages of what I have learned from straight people and have placed them into my own relationships, making other women suffer through my own traumas with queerness. It was not until recently where I got to the point of just accepting myself, but rather feeling beyond liberated. Feeling like my queerness is not just love but a huge statement to say that I don’t want to be part of your dusty cishetero patriarchal nuclear family ideologies, I do not want to be known for someone that is “choosing love” when I actually want to destroy every heteronormative tool you are drowning us in. I want everyone to know how disgusted I am by the choices heteros make when it comes to having their bar so low. I want everyone to know that I am not taking shit from what you are trying to feed us with.
My parents finally understand this concept, but it took time. After coming home from my first year of college, I just said it with a straight face, “hola mami, soy bisexual” (I felt like my mother would not understand queer, so I came out as bisexual). This turned into tears, questions such as “y los hijos? No me va dar nietos? Y la familia?” and then lastly, tell your father when he comes home. I had to wait until my father came. He said, “I hope your kids do not turn as liberal as you”, as my mother passes me a Christian book and says she will be taking me to speak to the pastor. At the time, I called my partner and cried to her. She gave me the support I needed, telling me it will be okay and even passed the phone down to her parents to tell me that it will be fine, to give it time.
Little by little, my mom would say partner instead of just husband, she would ask me if I am talking to anyone? “Any men or women?” and that made me feel like she is finally getting it. Now, we have conversations such as what does lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans mean, what does intersex mean, how gender can be fluid, etc. My father loves having these conversations and learning about different topics. Not only are they learning through these conversations, but they also do their own research and moved beyond just becoming very accepting. My parents also knew about Johanna before I even told them I was in a relationship. My mom said, “lo se en la forma que te mira. Es una buena muchacha.” I am lucky to be with someone that is willing to grow with me, learn to know about me, and choose to love me every day. Someone that makes my parents proud. Someone that makes me proud to love.
I know that not all parents will have this type of growth. I know that not all parents will be this accepting. So for those still struggling, you have a community no matter what. There are many resources and you are not alone. For those that are still not out, we see you and celebrate you. For those that are out in specific spaces than others, do not feel bad for not being completely out. You know yourself best, you know your safety best, and reach out to anyone in the community if that is not the case. For the “allies”, don’t stop talking about us just because it is July, we see you. For corporations that use “pride” because of marketing, just fuck you. For those that are out and being queer as fuck, queer of color as fuck, I am here for it. Estoy lista para comenzar el fuego—el futuro es queer. Nonbinary. Gender fluid. Brown and Black and loud and proud.