No Place Like Home

Posted in Uncategorized by Lorena A. on March 23, 2010

The mug crashed to the floor. The coffee pooled at her feet but my mother did not even blink. “What do you mean, you like girls? ¡Tú no sabes lo que dices!”

I couldn’t bring myself to look at her but I said” Yes I do know what I’m saying mami. I don’t date boys. I don’t like them. I can’t hide who I am anymore.”

She just stood there in the puddle of coffee, staring at me as if I had suddenly grown a horn in the middle of my forehead. Finally, she stretched her mouth in a weird way that was supposed to be a smile. “You’re just joking right? It’s not funny! You, a lesbiana? Don’t ever joke like that again!”

I took a deep breath and looked her in the eyes. “Es la verdad,” I told her. “I’m not playing Mami. I’m a lesbian. I have a girlfriend. Se llama Ana and I love her with all my heart and if I keep hiding it then it would be like admitting there’s something wrong with that. Pero yo sé, there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s why I’m telling you.”

For a split second, I hoped she would hug me and tell me everything was fine. Silly me. The next thing I knew, she was smacking me with the loaf of wheat bread that had been on the breakfast table. “Get out!” she screamed at me. “Get out of my house right now! You weren’t raised to be a pervert! Get out, get out, get out!”

“Mami,” I cried, “What are you saying? I’m your daughter!”

She yanked the door open and shoved me out. “No you’re not mi hija anymore! ¡Mejor muerta que lesbiana!” With that, she slammed the door in my face.

Explanation:  the above is what I imagine would happen if I came out to my mother. Though I’m not gay, it’s always fun to come up with things that upset her. And NOTHING would upset a strict, overbearing, Catholic, and Latina mom then a dyke daughter. However, it seems like everytime I watch a tv show or read a fiction book where someone comes out of the closet, the family is very accepting. But I’ve also noticed that the family is usually white. That’s because tolerance and understanding of queerness just doesn’t happen in a Latino family. My parents are blatant homophobes and there’s absolutely no way you can say anything to change their minds. Trust me , I’ve tried. Just last week I overheard them talking about how children that are adopted by gay couples will just be abused and grow up to be gay themselves. I think the worst thing I’ve heard my father say was that gays should be burned alive. Who the fuck says that about another human being??

The vast majority of my friends have parents that are the same way. I wonder if this is particular to having grown up in Latin America decades ago? Is it because of religion/church teachings? Is it because Latino culture is very focused on traditional gender roles and men are supposed to be macho? I just don’t get it. As Latinos, we are judged harshly all the time. People assume we don’t speak English, we’re illegal, we don’t pay taxes, we’re stealing jobs. And they hate us for it. So why does our culture foster hate for others when we know how painful that behavior can be?

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  1. rmleeb said, on March 30, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    Wow. I’ve only really looked into Latino culture in my literature classes, but they usually deal a lot with theory. Not trying to generalize, but I haven’t run into many Latinos in my English classes, so we really don’t have a pool of experience to draw from when it comes to hispanic traditions.
    But, in a way, I can kindof see where your parents are coming from. Maybe they feel that, because they are competing with another culture for dominance (or even, in an extreme way, survival), they must adhere to the ideals of the majority: being white, being straight, being Christian, working hard, having clear-cut views that will remain unwavering in the face of adversity. When you try to make a name for yourself or become one within a new community (as most immigrants do), you often have to adopt homogeneity. You have to become part of the dominant group. You have to be as agreeable as possible. You need to be acceptable. More than anything, you cannot draw attention to yourself.
    And, in your case, it seems like those things really boil down to safety. It’s hard to come to another country with a new identity. So, almost to overcompensate, you are forced to be closed. You have to refuse accepting “dangerous” things into your group. You need to act, sometimes, in order to “prove” to the dominant class that you’re not an infidel.
    Really interesting story!

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