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Grab The Tissues! These Latinas Told Us Their Coming Out Stories And We Have Been Sobbing In Pride

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Coming out can be an extremely personal thing. Yet, for a Latina living in a Latino community, where family, friends, neighbors are all considered part of the mix, they can be exceptionally stressful. From dealing with machismo and religious ideals, for many, coming out can tear a person apart. For many of us, on the other hand, our families can provide all the comfort we need.

In honor of Pride Month, we asked Latinas on Instagram about their coming out experiences and boy did they deliver!

A story that had a surprisingly supportive ending.

“I finally came out to my mom last year when I got into a relationship with my girlfriend since it was my first time dating a woman. My mother and I have always been close so I told her since I was living out of state at the moment and I wanted her to know about my relationship. I told her I was in a new relationship but that it was with a woman. She just looked and me and instantly said, “okay y cual es la problema? No importa con quien estes sea hombre o mujer, solo que estes feliz. Si tu estas feliz, yo estoy feliz. Si tu estás bien, yo voy a estar bien.” – @__shirls__

How pain and cutting ties wouldn’t keep her from being herself in the end.

Photo by Etty Fidele on Unsplash

“I came out to my parents 10 years ago when I was in high school. I had a girlfriend at the time and they had already suspected I was into girls. It didn’t go well at all. To sum things up, over the past ten years it’s been a battle on and off with trying to fight feeling invisible and invalidated, because God forbid we talk about sexuality. Anyway, it took me moving away and temporarily cutting ties for my parents to finally start coming around to it. Only recently after 10 years of trying to talk to my parents about it, my mom finally told me she’s accepted me for who I am, and will continue to work through it. And really, all I had ever wanted was for her to try. There was ten years of gritos and lagrimas, and finally this time the lagrimas were no longer out of enojo but rather love and compassion. t’s never too late.” – @ohluccia

Chisme did it all for her and she didn’t mind.

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“My mom accidentally found out (i do not know how, i think she saw a text on my lock screen), confronted me, and when i asked her how she did she know, she said “i mean… we all kind of knew… i mean what girl wears flannels and wants to live with her best friend and eighty cats?” and then came out to me also, she’s bi. unfortunately she also found out about my ex, and asked how our relationship was, i had to awkwardly tell her i ended things a week before, and it took me another 2-3 years to tell her that ex-girlfriend was an abusive shithead. my mama gas supported me always, and i wish other parents did the same to their kids.” – ki.kibug

The one where she was told it was “just a phase.”

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“I came out as pansexual at 15 and my moms first reaction was saying it was a phase and would pass, and telling me I needed to pray, that she would pray for me, and that i should try therapy. My mom has always been my best friend and I honestly don’t blame her for reacting this way, but I did make it clear it wasn’t going to change. I decided to take one day out of the year to remind her that I’m still pansexual, regardless of who I am with. I know for the most part she’s able to ignore my sexuality because I’ve had more serious boyfriends than girlfriends buy it’s still there, and a huge part of me. For the rest of my family I’ve only told those who have directly asked me or brought it up on conversation which have just been my younger cousins and they are completely supportive. There’s a good amount of my family that I haven’t said those words to yet, but I am willing to at a drop of a hat.” – @carmennurinda

The one where she threw up.

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“It was difficult… I was with my super religious aunt and she was asking why I still don’t have a bf how it upsets my mom that I haven’t given her grandchildren and stuff and I remember there was a big cross on the wall ( typical Pr 🇵🇷) and she said “ Mija te ves tristes porque?” And i just broke and said “ tia estoy triste porque yo se que mi mamá y todos en la familia vas hablar mal de mi porque dos mujeres no puedes tienen un bebé “ and i ran and threw up . My mom showed up when I was throwing up and she freaked out it was horrible …my tia had to calm my mom down she kept saying “what did she do wrong” it was bad.” – j_nyx_

A story about coming out in the most freeing way she knew how.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

“I said it via text. With my engagement ring on. Fuck it. At 34 I wasn’t going to hide myself any longer.”- vvaz__

A story that includes being outed before she was ready.

Photo by Felipe Bustillo on Unsplash

“Unfortunately I was outed before I was emotionally and mentally ready to endure the rejection. Blessed to say after 10 years my mom accepts my sexuality. People need to know the damage they can cause by outing a loved one when they are not ready. You might think you’re helping but not in all cases. Best way to help is by motivating them to be proudly be themselves. ” – karydred

When her abuelita found out on social but just wanted to be supportive.

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“Told my family, my mom goes “finally, we were wondering when you’d come out.” and i was like “huh??” and my sister said “you wear flannels everyday, you want to live with your best friend with no men, and you want to have a household of cats??” my abuela basically found out via facebook and bombarded my mom with questions on how to support me.” – ki.kibug

A sad story of still not being totally out.

“I haven’t yet because at 15 when rumors about me were said at school my sister told my mom about it and my mom cried and said she’d disown me if they were true so I lied and said they weren’t.” – tired.latina

A mother who is proud of her daughter no matter what.

“I’m 41. I’m Hispanic, my husband is 46, Mexican & Puerto Rican. Our daughter was a straight A student in elementary. All of a sudden her grades slipped, she became depressed and withdrawn. Then the summer going into 8th grade, she wrote us a letter coming out. She said she was so full of anxiety, not knowing if we would still love her. We basically let her know that it was a nonissue for us. We knew from the time she was a toddler that she was gay. I felt like, there didn’t need to be a big coming out. I don’t see her any different than I see my other children. She’s 15 now & has been with her girlfriend for 11 months. We love her too.” – shes_crafty77

It happend over email and “things are so much better, but not perfect.”

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“I did it via email at the age of 27… I was scared, felt ashamed, and thought I’d lose it all… It was hard for me. It was hard for my mom and we took some time to really talk about it almost a year later… Things are so much better, but not perfect. I’m blessed to openly be with my wife in our family, yet there’s still lots to unpack.” – labruxapg

The Latina mama bear who loves her son no importa qué.

Photo by Rashid Sadykov on Unsplash

“I’m a proud mom of a gay son who came out at the age of 12, as a Latina mom, our culture is harsh on LGBTQ+ every day I try and break that cycle and barriers. My house is a safe haven for my son’s friends and for those kids that have been rejected. As a mom I want you to know that you are loved, you are unique and you are so brave! Hugs and hugs and hugs, you have a mom here that is so so proud of who you are.” – arco___iris___

The Latina who sacrificed herself for her sister.

Photo by Karina Carvalho on Unsplash

“My abuela is Dominican, very religious and old school, and doesn’t like my sister’s Haitian boyfriend. One day, my sister was crying to me because my abuela said some harsh things to her about Haitians. My sister screamed at me, “NO! YOU DONT UNDERSTAND! Abuela doesn’t dislike who you are and who you love!” So I said fuck it, I came out to her as bisexual and told her that she’s not alone. We’ve become closer since and I can finally tell her the tea about the girls I like.” – slunaa24

A short story that has long-lasting tears.

Photo by Luis Galvez on Unsplash

“Mine had tears mainly my mom she kept asking what did she do wrong with me. It was a lot for her she’s better now but it’s been over 10 years.” – j_nyx_

Reminder! Come out only when you feel ready and safe to do so.

Two Trans Latinas In New York Are Starting A Beauty Co-Op To Help Trans Women Build Their Businesses

Entertainment

Two Trans Latinas In New York Are Starting A Beauty Co-Op To Help Trans Women Build Their Businesses

mirror_cooperative_ / Instagram

Four years ago, Lesly Herrera Castillo and Joselyn Mendoza both had a vision to create a worker-owned makeup and hair salon for the trans Latino community in Jackson Heights, New York. It was ambitious and for them, it was necessary. For years, the duo faced racial and gender discrimination from employers. Their own community, Jackson Heights, was also becoming a problem as the area became the site of multiple anti-trans hate crimes in recent years. So they came together with a plan to open Mirror Beauty Cooperative in 2015.

The beauty shop would create numerous jobs for the local trans community but more importantly assist undocumented individuals who were denied opportunities due to their legal status. So Castillo and Mendoza made the important decision to register the business as a cooperative cooperation (co-op). This was done so the salon would basically be “worker-run” and there would be no need for things like social security numbers, an obstacle many undocumented workers face when applying to jobs. Instead, the salon will use individual taxpayer identification numbers (ITINs).

“The significance of the cooperative for me is that it’s an opportunity to create more jobs and make a space that’s free of discrimination,” Mendoza told the HuffPost. “As trans women, we don’t often have access to a healthy economy, and this allows us to change that and obtain other services like health care.”

While their idea started four years ago, the duo hasn’t yet obtained a physical space to open up the salon. But they hope with enough support this vision can become a reality. 

Credit: @equalityfed / Twitter

While both Castillo and Mendoza haven’t opened up a physical salon space, they are both continuing to work in other salons as they continue to save and plan for the Mirror Beauty Cooperative. This past May they began to reach out to more people to help fund their goal through a GoFundMe Campaign. The results of the campaign fund have been less than 1 percent of their $150,000 goal. The duo has also faced other socioeconomic setbacks like lack of traditional education and the economic instability due to their immigrant background. 

“Latina trans women always have multiple obstacles in the way,” Mendoza said. “I think if a collective of white trans women were to start a project like this, their incubation process would be faster than ours because of their historical access to privilege.” 

But Herrera notes that the white trans community is still an ally to them even though they are on different economic levels. “We can always depend on the white trans community” to offer support “because they know they’re on a better [economic] level.”

For the trans, gender-queer and nonbinary community, job discrimination has been a reoccurring issue. According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, 16 percent of gender-queer and nonbinary respondents who had held jobs reported having been fired for their gender identity or expression. But for trans women and trans people of color, they were the most likely to have gone through this. 

While the salon is still in progress, Castillo and Mendoza have become a presence in their own neighborhood uplifting and bringing attention to the trans Latino community. 

As of now, the duo has a secret backup plan in case they don’t meet their fundraising goals by the end of the year. They hope that the campaign does one thing though, create and share their broader call for building community with people. 

That has already started to take place as Castillo, Hernandez and their new partner, Jonahi Rosa have all become presences in Jackson Heights advocating for the trans community. The trio even participated in the Queens Pride Parade as co-grand marshals. This has also included various charity events for local LGTBQ+ youth. 

They all feel that the salon has the potential to bring people together and spread awareness about issues that affect their lives every day. From the start, the trio has always wanted to not only create a space for the trans community but give them an opportunity. 

“We want to work, [and] we want to give agency to our community,” Rosa said. “It’s a perfect opportunity for our community to come together and make something for our future.”

READ: Our FIERCE Readers Share Some of the Most Outrageous Lies They’ve Told To Get Some Time Away With Their Boo

After Almost Two Years, Trans Activist Alejandra Barrera Has Been Released From ICE Custody

Things That Matter

After Almost Two Years, Trans Activist Alejandra Barrera Has Been Released From ICE Custody

transgender_together / Instagram

After nearly two years in detention, Alejandra Barrera, a 44-year-old transgender Salvadorian activist, was released from an ICE facility in New Mexico late last Friday. Human rights activists and the transgender immigrant community are rejoicing at the news that Barrera will finally be freed after being held in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention since November 2017.

Barrera, who hails from El Salvador, fled her country due to discrimination and persecution. Shortly after seeking asylum in the U.S, she was detained at the Cibola County Correctional Center in New Mexico, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s detention center with a unit specifically for transgender women that opened in 2017, according to the Phoenix New Times. During her time at the detention facility, there were numerous complaints of abuse and maltreatment of inmates that included the death of Roxsana Hernandez Rodriguez, a transgender woman who died of HIV-related complications last year. 

 Before leaving El Salvador, Barrera was a well-known activist in her home country where she stood up for transgender rights for over a decade. But with this attention also came attacks from local gangs and the Salvadoran military who targeted her and forced her to eventually leave in and claim asylum in November 2017. In spite of all of this, Barrera was repeatedly denied asylum in the U.S.

Many people and organizations helped build awareness around the release of Barrera. But it was the hashtag #FreeAlejandra that made the world know her story. 

Credit: @outmagazine / Twitter

Barrera’s release is the culmination of a year-long campaign by multiple nonprofit organizations like the Amnesty International, the Translatin@ Coalition and the National Immigrant Justice Center. This also included the help of federal lawmakers like Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Adam Schiff (Calif.), and Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.) 

Many first heard the story of Barrera with the hashtag #FreeAlejandra that circulated online for months spreading awareness of her detention. A Change.org petition demanding her freedom received more than 36,000 signatures and raised awareness of Barerra’s case using the hashtag #FreeAlejandra.

“Through letters of support, people from around the world gave me the strength to continue in this struggle that was so hard for me. I’m here to keep fighting”  Barrera said in response to everyone that helped share her story. 

Bamby Salcedo, the executive director of Translatin@ Coalition, acknowledged all the work put forth to have Barrera finally released. She said in a video posted to Facebook the day of  Barrera’s release that her “heart is so full of joy” now that Barrera is finally out.

“It was because of all of your calls, because of all of you signing petitions, showing up to the rallies, showing up the press conferences, her lawyers – everyone – all of you who wrote letters to Alejandra, everyone who participated in la campaigna de #FreeAlejandra – should be very proud because this is one more victory and we should be able to celebrate,” Salcedo said in the video. 

Barrera is currently released on parole while she waits for her asylum case to go to immigration court.

Credit: @mghtranshealth / Twitter

While Barrera is out and getting to enjoy her freedom, her fight for asylum is not over just yet. As of now, Barrera’s asylum status is still not secure and must now continue to fight against her deportation. If she is not granted asylum, Barrera faces the daunting possibility of being deported back to El Salvador. 

Denise Bell, Amnesty International’s researcher for refugee and migrant rights, told the Daily News that while her organization is happy that Barrera is out of ICE detention, the fight is not over yet. Bell says that she hopes that Barrera’s case becomes an example of what happens when people come together to bring awareness to a good cause. 

“We don’t think that she should be returned to El Salvador, where we are gravely concerned for her well-being,” Bell told the Daily News. “Trans people in detention are at a special risk of abuse because of their special medical needs, often, and [because of] their gender identity. So we just want to draw attention to the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other trans people who are seeking asylum, who are in immigration detention [and] who should be released on parole

Barrera is currently being represented by Rebekah Wolf of the Equal Justice Coalition, who fought and brought awareness for her release. While she seeks refuge, Barrera will stay with a sponsor from the TransLatin@ Coalition. 

According to the Washington Blade, ICE estimates that at least 111 transgender people who are being held in U.S. detention centers. The number is an increase that what ICE estimated just five months prior and it does not include detainees that might have been uncounted. 

READ: Mexico Has Become The World’s Second-Deadliest Country For Transgender People To Live And Many Are Worried