Happy National Coming Out Day! Coming out to your family and friends can be hard to do, especially in a Latino household. Whether it’s dealing with the machismo culture or religious ideals that shun your sexual orientation, coming out can mean tearing your family apart. It’s important to know that you should only come out when you feel ready and will be safe in doing so. The good news is that Americans, as a society, have become more accepting of LGBTQI+ people in general, according to a Harris Poll/GLAAD poll. In honor of National Coming Out Day, here are two Latinx YouTubers discussing their own coming out stories.
Salice Rose hid her sexual orientation because her family told her it was not right.
Rose is openly talks about how she realized she was attracted to other women at a young age. In 8th grade, she had a crush on a female classmate. When she mentioned it to a family member, they quickly shut her down, telling her that it was wrong and that she shouldn’t ever think that way. So, like a lot of people in the closet, she tried dating members of the opposite sex but was not comfortable or happy.
“The thought of me coming out never crossed my mind. I know that sounds crazy,” Rose says. “Because in high school I was always getting kicked out of schools…I was going to military schools and all this stuff so I was just like, ‘Okay. Maybe I just don’t have time for a boyfriend right now. Maybe I just don’t want it. Cool.'”
It was while she was in military school that she realized that she’s gay. That made her finally feel at peace. Years later, Rose moved to San Diego and started to live as her honest self as an out lesbian woman. She eventually called her mom to let her in on the secret she had been hiding for so long.
“I was like, ‘Mom. I don’t know how you’re going to react but I like girls, I don’t like guys. If you don’t accept me for me than that’s fine. I’m still going to be me. But if you do, great. Thank you so much,'” she recalls. “My mom was actually very, very easygoing about it. She’s always been very supportive of me. She’s my hero.”
Manny “MUA” Gutierrez shared his experience of coming out while in a religious household.
Gutierrez grew up in a Mormon household, with his family was deeply involved with the Church of Latter-Day Saints. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the LDS church and its teachings, their website says there is nothing wrong with being attracted to someone of the same sex, but marriage is out of the question, as is acting on your desires. Basically, you can be gay but you can never act on it.
“I was terrified to death about the concept of me liking a boy,” Gutierrez admits. “I knew I couldn’t do it because it was a no-no for my family and it was a no-no for the church. So I was like, ‘There’s no way in hell that I’m going to like boys.’ Basically, every single night I would pray to please not like boys because that was just what I was doing. I know it sounds kind of sad but that’s what I was doing.”
Gutierrez says his first experience with talking to another LGBTQ boy was through MySpace. As a 16-year-old, Gutierrez met a boy named “T.” \While he thought T was attractive, he tried to ignore those feelings because he wasn’t ready to admit it. But, like most Latinos, his parents were not big on the whole privacy thing. One day they decided to look through his laptop to see what Gutierrez was up to. His parents read all the messages he had exchanged with “T.” Soon after, Gutierrez agreed to go to counseling to “work through” his feelings and attraction to men. However, that didn’t work and after six months, he had to tell his parents the truth.
“My mom and my dad sat me down and they were like, ‘What’s going on with you? What’s going on in your head? Why aren’t you acting like your normal happy self?’ Because I was a happy kid,” Gutierrez says. “Again, I break down and tell them that the counseling isn’t working. I’m not changing. Nothing this person is telling me is working at all. I’m not going to not be gay. I still like boys. I still like boys. I can’t help it. So, my parents, being the loving parents that they are, tell me, ‘So, let’s take a pause on this counseling and let’s just see how things go. We want you to be happy.'”