After being rejected as queer by my family, this is how I started myself

Being rejected by my family in the US made me create a new one abroad.

Growing up in Puerto Rico and Florida, my identity has always been different. On the island, I was considered too gringo and black to be Puerto Rican. I’m too black to be considered American on the mainland as Latino. During my early school years in Florida, people I didn’t know would approach me and ask if I spoke English. I would surprise them by answering with a suburban accent because my appearance didn’t match my voice.

In later years, people in Puerto Rico would make fun of my Spanish accent because it sounded weird and not Puerto Rican enough. This was further complicated by my emerging identity as a queer person. In both the US and Puerto Rico, I acted too feminine, and by the time I was 14 gay jokes started popping up in my neighborhood.

“Sus plumas están cayendo” (his feather fell out) is a pejorative term I used to hear walking the hallways of my old high school in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. I’ve been resisting the urge to do or say anything overly feminine at school. It felt like everyone knew I was gay before I did and my adolescent mind didn’t know how to deal with these sometimes traumatic events.

Often, queer BIPOC children have no support system in their families to confide in when these things happen, and I was no exception. When I graduated from NYU, I had a hard time understanding who I was and how my family saw me. I still avoid questions about potential girlfriends at family gatherings and avoid any sexual topics, gay or otherwise.

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During the pandemic, things have changed. I started my career as a travel writer and my mind was opened. I visited different countries and saw rich and beautiful multiculturalism. I can travel to places like Phuket, Thailand, and Mexico City where queer families exist and thrive. I feel confident enough to tell myself and my family that I am part of the LGBTQ+ community. That’s when I noticed what I’m starting to call subconscious homophobia.

My immediate family would turn off anything queer on TV or in the media. My family nods uncomfortably when I mention any achievement that’s a little weird.Things got tense when I forced my mom to watch an episode love, victor, a Hulu series about a Latino teen who moves to a new town and discovers his identity. When we started watching the episode, Mom kept her eyes on the TV. The lead character would physically cringe when anything horrible happened, and I felt like she finally understood who I was as a queer Latino man. Suddenly, my then 10-year-old nephew walked into the dark living room. The TV screens glowed softly around him, and he stared at them, innocently asking, “What are you watching?”.

Mom braced herself up, startled, and jumped at the remote control with the speed of a cheetah. She turned off the TV and told my nephew we weren’t watching anything. This moment made me realize that as long as it was on TV, my identity was fine, but once it got home, they wanted nothing to do with it. love, victor It’s PG-13 and has fewer trauma scenes than any Star Wars movie. At this point in my life, I am planning to move to Barcelona, ​​Spain and desperately need to be away from these toxic events with my family. When I arrived in Spain, I was fascinated by Catalan culture and architecture, often visiting museums such as Barcelona’s Museum of Contemporary Art and Gaudí’s Casa.

I had no contact with my family for the first six months. I felt the pressure off my shoulders. I was free to be myself without hiding any aspect of my identity, and I began to form a community of friends who accepted me. Things weren’t perfect, but I finally felt free, and Florida and Puerto Rico felt like a distant but painful memory. During the holidays, the thought of going home can make me cringe. I feel like a bird resisting the urge to migrate because it loves its space so much. The thought of seeing my elderly grandmother and the few relatives who made me feel comfortable drove me back west. I could see my grandmother, wave to my mother from a distance, and spend time with family members who knew who I was. Things are tense, but everything is fine.

That’s when I heard about the family reunion.

Excluded from my own family gatherings

BTW, a cousin mentioned that they are going to be raising money for a family reunion soon. When asked, my cousin was surprised to learn that my mom hadn’t invited me. They are both scheduled to meet in Orlando, Florida, in March. Cousins ​​and relatives from Puerto Rico, New Jersey and New York all came together to celebrate and I was left out. I suspect it’s because of my outspoken gay identity. While initially in shock, I started to feel pain in my stomach. The feeling of that uptight teenager trying not to be noticed for the wrong reasons started to set in, and it felt like my divorce with my family was the endgame.

Back in Spain, I battled this idea and realized that, like other gay people before me, starting my own family was part of the journey. Sitting in an outdoor plaza in Gracia, near my house, I started noticing all the families around me. Parents sat at silver tables drinking wine and beer, their children running around them chasing pigeons or each other. The sun is shining and the square is filled with the laughter of children and the clamor of adults speaking Spanish or Catalan. At that moment, I realized that I wanted to be a parent. I don’t know how this happened, but the urge to be one of the parents sitting on the outdoor furniture became thoughts I couldn’t shake while the kids ran free in the background. Becoming a queer parent takes more work, but I feel like I’m ready (almost).

decided to start a family of their own

In Spain, any single person can adopt, including LGBTQ+ singles. Surrogacy is banned nationwide, but surrogacy performed abroad will be recognized. According to some sources, adoption prices range from $12,000 to $20,000, and the entire process can take as long as eight to 20 months. Surrogacy may be a faster option, but it can cost as much as $130,000, depending on the circumstances.

organization like GWK (Gays With Kids) provides information and support for LGBTQ+ expectant parents.Parenting is complicated and can take a full time village (village) to do. But I now know this is a journey I’m ready to embark on. The next time the family gets together, it will be my own, including my friends, neighbors, and one day, a little guy who calls me Daddy.

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