I came to the U.S. in the summer of 2011. During the last six years, I have been able to dance at numerous gay bars in New York City, proudly march in two Gay Pride parades, witness the Supreme Court rule in favor of marriage equality, and most importantly, marry the love of my life.
I have also been able to watch celebrities such as Ellen Page and Miley Cyrus discuss their sexuality in public and encourage others to support and respect all LGBT people.
Other things I have been able to do include: weekend getaways to The Pines or Cherry Grove in Fire Island, where everyone is gay and there is absolute freedom when it comes to expressing yourself; Logo TV nights on Thursdays, where I can indulge in my guilty pleasures: “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and “Finding Prince Charming;” binge-watching gay-inclusive TV shows such as, “Shameless,” “Pretty Little Liars,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” to name a few.
In Mexico, where I was born and raised, none of this exists.
In September 2016, Mexico’s President, Enrique Peña Nieto, made his first attempt to promote marriage equality and adoption rights for same-sex couples across the country. The result? Tens of thousands of people marching against his proposal.
While I’m enjoying the married life in the suburbs and the possibility of starting a family with my wife next year, my friends back home are still fighting to be recognized, and some of them have yet to find the courage to come out to their families.
“My siblings told me not to tell my mother,” a college friend said to me during a recent conversation. “They think she is getting old and I should spare her suffering.”
Another friend, who swore she was straight back in college, recently admitted her homosexuality to me. However, I noticed she refused to call herself a lesbian and instead chose to use sentences such as: “Times have changed” or “I’m not like that anymore.”
Back home it is hard to identify yourself as a lesbian, or as a gay man, or as bisexual, much less the rest of the ever-expanding labels out there. Why? Because no one is there to tell you it is ok to be different.
I was lucky to find Afterellen.com 15 years ago, where I was able to meet and talk to people who were just like me. If I had relied on Mexican media, TV shows, or movies, I would still be figuring it all out.
Yes, of course there are gay celebrities in Mexico. We have Yolanda Andrade, Montserrat Oliver, Christian Chávez, Polo Morín – who was basically forced to come out a few days ago because some hacker published photos of him and his boyfriend – BUT most of these public personalities often choose to live by the following phrase: “Lo que se ve, no se pregunta” (What you see, you don’t question).
What does this mean? That they prefer not to label themselves, which in my opinion is a little selfish. Some may say, “It’s his/her choice.” However, I feel like the inclusion of LGBT topics in American TV shows, movies, music, and the media in general, has contributed to the acceptance of our community in this country.
And let’s not forget about the amazing organizations that have been created throughout the years to support and promote our rights. Thanks to these groups, teens now have a safe place in this world, where they can feel free to express themselves.
A few days ago, I found myself explaining the meaning of pansexual to some of my cousins. “Isn’t that the same as being bisexual?” one of them replied. After telling them the difference between pansexual and bisexual, one of them simply replied: “I don’t get it.” Most people back home can’t tell the difference between gender identity and sexuality, and it is always sad to realize that well-educated young millennial women and men still don’t understand this.
I know many of us are scared of what the President may do in the next few years, but look at all we have accomplished so far! Now is not the time to take anything for granted; it is the time to keep pressing forward.