Did you feel uncomfortable telling your family about your relationships?
Not just uncomfortable; it was challenging. I come from an intersection of the queer identity, which means different identities intersect that can make for unique experiences.
As a first-generation Catholic Mexican, I struggle to express myself to my family in the Spanish language. We have English terminology for explaining yourself as queer, but I only know how to say “gay” or “lesbian” in Spanish. I only know binary pronouns in Spanish. How do I express myself?
It’s created some internalized homophobia that leads me to be uncomfortable with being visibly queer, such as holding my partner’s hand. Internalized homophobia is self-hatred for being queer.
I was fed the belief that being queer is not right, so that internalized homophobia affects our opinion of ourselves for being who we are—it also affects our relationships because we unintentionally impose that hatred onto others we love or care for.
It’s getting better since I started going to therapy; I purposely tell my parents when I’m going on dates with women, and opening up about what I’m feeling has allowed them to be more understanding and start conversations.
Also, seeing better queer representation in the media helps them be more comfortable with those topics. Sometimes I still distance myself based on how they communicate with me, but we’re working on it.
Allies are important to every underrepresented community. What does allyship mean for you, and how can we be better allies to the LGBTQ+ community?
Good allyship is taking time to question yourself and learn from those around you. For example, folks who don’t understand gender identity and expression may not know that suicide rates are higher for those with a different gender expression. There’s also a different experience for LGBTQ+ folks who have disabilities.
There’s a lot happening in the world. There’s anti-LGBTQ+ bills including anti-transgender bills, but there are also Black people dying as a result of police brutality, Latinx folks in cages, and challenges to reproductive rights.
A lot of us are watching our rights being removed, and when you have intersecting identities, you sometimes have to ask which identity you have energy to fight for. Every day feels triggering. Allies should take time to look at what’s happening and understand the trauma we experience because of that, and also teach your kids and loved ones about it.
We need allies to speak up for us, but also check on us to make sure we’re doing alright. We log into work while depressed, and our productivity may reflect that. We need to adapt and support our coworkers in their mental spaces. Understand how these issues may mean we can’t show up and give 100% every single day. Acknowledge when your team members need a break and thank them for showing up. We’ve got to take care of one another.