- She said don't post anything gay on Facebook,
or Twitter or Instagram, but you're 100% right.
You're not a secret.
You know, growing up,
I always knew I was different
and when I was 13 I had my first crush on a boy.
And I grew up in the church,
and learned very early on that it was looked down upon.
When I was 18, my parents decided to get a divorce.
In my head, that gave me the courage to come out
because if they could get a divorce,
then I could be gay.
So when I was 20 years old,
I finally built up the courage to come out.
I went home for Christmas break,
and what I didn't know was my mom was going through a lot.
She blamed herself for the divorce,
and she was sexually harassed by her boss at work.
She decided that she didn't want to do it anymore,
so she tried to commit suicide twice.
While I was in the hospital,
I remember sitting there in the waiting room thinking
how selfish could I be
to even think about coming out right now?
She's not stable, she can't handle it.
Fast forward a couple years, she's doing a lot better.
She went to therapy, she was prescribed medication,
she was in a new relationship,
and she seemed happy.
So when I was 22, I went home for Christmas break again,
and I decided to finally come out.
My parents were living in separate places,
so I told my dad first and he told me,
he said, "Obviously I don't condone this,
"but you're my son,
"and I support you no matter what.
"So when you get married,
"I'll be there."
But then it was time to tell my mom,
and I literally waited 'til the last second.
She was driving me to the airport
and I said, "Mom?
And she started crying, like sobbing, weeping.
I've never seen my mom cry like this before,
and I said, "Mom I really want to comfort you right now,
"but I'm gonna miss my flight."
I said, "I'll call you as soon as I land."
It was the longest flight ever.
It was really bad.
She tried to get me to go to conversion therapy,
and tried to help me go to a Christian counselor.
I wasn't about it, though.
We ended up not talking for two years
because every time I talked to her, she cried.
Fast forward a couple more years,
it's the present day.
We're a lot better.
I call her about once a week,
but it's not the same.
She told me that in her eyes,
her son is straight.
And it sucks because it feels like
I can't be myself around my own mother.
But to anybody wanting to come out,
you have to be prepared to lose everyone.
But even if you do, this weight gets lifted on you
and you feel free.
And even though I kind of lost my mom,
I found myself.
And I don't regret it.
- My parents are from Mexico, so they were very traditional.
Every Sunday, went to church.
I grew up just thinking what everybody is taught.
You're gonna grow up, you're gonna have a husband,
have kids, nobody talks to you
about the other possibilities.
They're not even mentioned or spoken about.
When I was in middle school,
I started to realize that my feelings,
or my attraction towards girls was different,
but I didn't think anything of it.
Not until I got closer to 14
did I really start to think like whoa,
there's something a little different here
with the way I feel towards girls.
Maybe I'm bisexual, because I don't want to be gay
and I don't want to be a lesbian.
I don't want to be full on anything,
because I grew up thinking those things were bad.
Well I just pretended not to be who I really am
until I was in high school
and I saw a girl walking in the quad.
And when I saw her, I got feelings all over my body,
like butterflies, this was different.
This was like, oh my god.
I know I'm a lesbian.
I had never felt like that towards a boy, ever.
So when I made that realization,
I kind of just came to terms with who I was,
and the first people I told were my sisters.
And one of my sisters kind of was like well, you know.
We kind of already figured,
and that was a piece of cake.
Told my older cousins and my friends.
Everybody took it well.
I had one cousin whenever I would go out with her,
she would introduce me as her cousin
and then would be like, "And she's gay."
It was something new to the family, to my friends.
Nobody, there wasn't a lot of out people close to me.
When I was 20, my mom took me out to lunch
and she sat me down and she was like,
"Hey, is there anything you need to tell me?"
And I was like, oh my god I think I'm in trouble.
I didn't know what she was talking about,
but she kind of kept insisting.
So I kind of figured, I think I know
what she's trying to get at, and I came out to her.
Her demeanor just completely changed.
It was like you know, fine, if you want to do that,
if you want to be that, just don't discuss it to people.
How my mom just started gradually I think
coming to terms with it is
I stopped being afraid of who I was.
I stopped being a secret,
and I started being more open about my feelings
and if I saw somebody attractive on TV,
I would say it out loud
whether it made her uncomfortable or not
because everybody did it.
So I started being more open about it.
You know, little by little she just kind of
toned down with the comments.
And I remember once she was in her room,
and I was going through a really hard time,
and she was telling me that I'd be happy
if I found a husband and I had a baby.
That that would change everything,
that I would be happy then.
And I couldn't take those comments anymore,
so I told her Mom, I really need you
to stop saying that to me.
I don't like it, it really hurts me
and it makes me feel like you don't like who I am.
And she's never said it again.
So yeah, if I could give anybody any advice it'd be
you are not a secret,
you shouldn't be ashamed of who you are,
and it's definitely a process.
- Listening to your story,
I felt it, especially the part when you said
your mom told you not to tell anybody else.
My mom said the exact same thing.
She said don't post anything gay on Facebook,
or Twitter, Instagram.
And then I listened, for a while.
But you're 100% right.
You're not a secret. - Mm-mm, yeah.
Listening to your story too,
I totally feel what you went through.
And then also the part about having to be ready
to possibly lose everyone or not,
it's true, you don't know how anyone's
gonna react to it or take it
and it's really scary.
Just makes you feel like you're really not okay, you know?
- There was one Christmas
where I wanted to bring my boyfriend around,
and she said absolutely not.
And I was like, well it's not your house.
It's my aunt's house. - Yeah.
- And she said it was fine. - Yeah.
- She said I don't care, he's not allowed in here.
If he comes in, I'm gonna stop him.
- What did you do?
- We didn't go. - Oh.
And it sucks that it has to be that way.
- It's real, and I've lost boyfriends
because of my mom, you know?
- When listening to your story,
the biggest realization I had was we all have
a different story, a different coming out story.
Our journeys are all different.
I'm not alone in this, you know?
- Something that I realized in your story
was that I'm not a secret.
If someone wants to know, they'll ask.
- Everybody has their own process,
and it's not the same handbook for everybody, you know?
Everybody just has to learn their way,
and then whatever's best for them
at the end of the day I guess.
- Yeah, the hardest thing about sharing my story
was the fact that it wasn't just my story.
It was also my dad's story, and my mom's story.
It's gonna be tough when they see this,
'cause it's like going back to those memories
and living it again. - Yeah.
- It's tough for me saying it.
I can just imagine they're the ones
that actually went through it too,
and reliving that.
- You know I thought the same thing too.
I was like, oh my gosh.
I'm not only telling something that happened to me,
but I'm involving my whole family in this,
and that kind of freaked me out a little bit too,
but it is my story and so I am allowed to share it.
'Cause at first I was like, here we go.
I'm kind of looking at their feelings,
like am I gonna hurt anybody or whatever, you know?
Like my mom--
- Again, she told you to keep it a secret,
and what are we doing?
Telling the whole world.
- So I was just like, but you know what?
This is my story, and I'm not gonna be quiet about it.
If I want to share it, I'm allowed to share it.
- Of course, 'cause I'm a firm believer
that you can learn so much from other people.
You can learn so much from other people,
so if I can just touch anybody, one person?
- I agree. - Worth it.
Well definitely when you talked about
saying that you came out to your mom,
and then you took off.
I felt like that worriness is something
that I've always kind of lived with.
I'm always worried about oh my gosh,
are they ready?
- I don't have any regrets about my coming out experience.
I think I did it the best way I knew how.
Back then I thought
the sin of divorce was equal to the sin of being gay.
I know now that's not the case.
- Mhmm, yeah.
One of the biggest challenges is
really being told that you're bad,
and I think that starts to burn inside of you
that you're bad, you're bad, you're bad,
there's something wrong with you.
And a lot of the times, you know,
it's kept inside
and people have to understand that what you say
really hurts young kids, you know?
There's so much that kind of needs to still be done
that it's hard to just pinpoint on one thing,
but definitely I think
instilling the fact of you're okay
and there's nothing wrong with you,
and it doesn't matter what stage you are,
if you're barely figuring it out.
If you think you're bisexual,
'cause that's what you're just kind of assuming at first,
and then your identity changes, that's okay.
You don't have to just be gay right away,
or whatever it is that you identify as.
- The suicide rates
are more prominent in the LGBTQ community.
I think the fact that we don't have the support
that we need factors in a lot,
so I'm very lucky I had my father to support me.
All of my tias and tios, cousins.
The only one that it really hurt
and affected was my mom.
But imagine if it was my dad too.
Imagine if it was all my tios and tias and my cousins.
- It would be a completely different story.
I would want to end my life.
But the fact that I had support,
the fact that there was love,
it changed the game,
and I was accepted.
And I think that's what they don't feel.
- Mhmm, thank you so much for sharing your story.
- Thank you for sharing your story.
It was great to meet you.
- I'm gonna hug you.
- I'm gonna hug you too.
- You definitely grow up assuming or thinking
that you're gonna have a husband and kids,
and that is a goal right there.
Like it's serious.