Finding love, acceptance and support in my Mexican immigrant Mormon family
Jul 24, 2012 at 09:45 am
Editors' Note: Carlos Gomar is our new communications intern at Freedom to Marry. His story of growing up and coming out resonates with our Familia es Familia public education campaign, which seeks to create strong allied relationships between the LGBT and Latino communities and assist Latino families in talking about their gay and lesbian family members. Freedom to Marry helped to launch Familia es Familia earlier this month, bringing together 21 leading Hispanic organizations - including the League of United Latin American Citizens and the National Council of La Raza - in support of heightening acceptance of LGBT people in the United States. Find out more about Familia es Familia.
Coming out as gay in a Mexican immigrant Mormon family in Utah may not be the most typical coming out story - but it's mine.
Growing up with my unique family identity was at times difficult. I received reinforcing messages from the cultural dynamics inherent to my identity, and I was told that being gay was wrong from both family and peers.
In high school, I wondered if coming out would change the way I would be treated. Being Hispanic in a school where interracial friendships were uncommon and LGBT students were unheard of, I pushed the question of being gay to the back of my mind, and I kept myself busy. I did my best to convince myself that I was happy by focusing on schoolwork, volunteering at nonprofits, and attending church regularly. I even served serve a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
During my mission in Indiana, I found peace serving others through the full-time commitment. The gratification I found in my service, however, would in no way satisfy the void that I knew I could only fill by accepting myself.
Upon completing my mission work, I knew that I had to make a decision to either continue in the Church or live the life I was born to live. Though I had stopped going to church and had confirmed speculations about my sexual orientation to friends, I felt incomplete.
For me, coming out was never something I saw as a necessity because my true colors had always shined through. Yes, I had served a mission, but as wrong as it is to assume anything based on perceptions, I knew that I came off as very gay.
Though I took pride in not having to announce this component of my identity, my decision to leave the Church made me feel like a bad son. Visits with my mother typically ended in her looking at me, turning around and crying. I didn't want to hurt her, so I concealed my identity.
Luckily, she made things easier for me.
I chased her into her room after one of her novella-esque waterworks displays, and my mother asked a question that brought me great relief: "Do you like boys?" she said.
"Yes," I replied.
"I know it may hurt me," she said. "But all I want is for you to be happy."
As we held each other in a tight embrace, we cried.
Today, my mother is getting the hang of things and is doing her best to show love and acceptance. Though I don't know when or with whom I will have the freedom to marry, I find great happiness in knowing that my mother will be by my side when the time comes.