"They Accepted Me With Open Arms"

By: Gay.com

Name: Stephan
Gay.com Member Name: Stephan1013
Age: 18
Gender: Male
Ethnicity: Hispanic
Sexual Orientation: Gay
Birthplace: USA

As a Latino/Hispanic, do you have a "coming out" story specific to your culture? Or do you have any stories describing why you feel you cannot "come out" as an LGBT Latino?
When I was young, I felt a lot of pressure as a Latino man; but as the youngest child of two it made it harder growing up with a brother who came off being the homophobic type of person. It appeared to me as I grew up, that maybe my family wouldn't accept me; based on the fact that through years of recognizing what I am, the more I realized how homophobic my whole family came off being. Then when I came out to my family, at the age of 15, they accepted me with open arms; though my mother denies it, it took her the longest to get used to. I lived under her roof (she being a single mother and all) and she cared for me, I was her baby and with that it only made it harder on her. She feared more for the fact that I am classified as being physically handicapped, it doesn't make me any less of a person but there are things I'm restricted from accomplishing.

Who is your favorite Latino/Hispanic icon? Why?
Jennifer Lopez would be my favorite icon, only for the fact that she plays a part in expression who she is as a person, and isn't afraid to show the world something different and out of the ordinary. And Christina Aguilera, although she isn't pure-blood, she's been an icon to me. She's a strong accomplished woman, who just Keeps Getting Better (no pun intended ;]). Her will and survival from her childhood showed much influence on the wonderful woman she's become today, and for that I look up to her; not just as an artist but as a person.

Stephan1013_2 Are you aware of any LGBT Latino/Hispanic celebrities or public figures, or can you name any that you know to be gay-friendly or pro-gay?
I cannot say that I can recall one celebrity that comes out being so gay-friendly or pro-gay. I mean most artist advertise it in their songs, the only pro-gay/gay-friendly thing I can truly think of right now is when Christina did her music video for "Beautiful" a wonderful video, which made me fall even more in love with her as a fan.

How did you learn about sex and sexual orientation? Was it from family, friends, religion, etc?
As a man, through Middle School and High School, more than half the male population had the subject of sex in more than 50% of their conversations. And women had the conversations of sex during the High School years, taking up more than 40%-60% depending on the type of group she belonged to (stereotypes I should say). So in the beginning most of the information I learned from my peers, but the factual information I gained from my mother as an child. She explained it for the purpose of me knowing what was out there, so I wouldn't be completely clueless [although hard to believe some parents don't bother explaining it, harmful to the child to receive false information later on].

What are your perceptions of what makes a gay man (top/bottom or other roles?) and a lesbian in Latino/Hispanic culture?
Honestly, I'm not that active, I have had a few but not many. So I consider myself vers, only because I cannot say I enjoy one over the other, I haven't experienced both of them to a state where I can compare and say that I'm Top or Bottom. But it all depends on the person himself, and what he finalizes himself to be. Do what makes you happy I guess.

Could you provide an experience where you were a victim of gay bashing/abuse from fellow Latinos vs. non-Hispanic people, whether you were "out" or not?
I couldn't say it's gay bashing, but it was a moment of confusion I though I'd never come to. My friend and I were driving around and he was a closet case Latino, he's also a very religious person. Well we started talking about the bible and he got very ignorant with me stating, "Well you're gay. But that makes us sinners and you are destined to burn in hell." I simply asked him, "How can you not count yourself in that? You are bisexual, you pursue in the act of homosexuality." And he replied, "Yeah but still, I cannot say I'm not sinning, I'm a sinner because of what I am-and you are to; I sometimes go home at night feeling ashamed of who I am." And I've talked to him, assuring him that he has nothing to be ashamed of, but he has it stuck in his head that as a Latino and the Bible he is a sinner and destined to be sentenced to hell. I couldn't believe how worked-up he got as he spoke those words. It confused me of how he could think that way, when he seemed so much more comfortable with being himself in public than I (I'm just a shy person, that's all).

Stephan1013_3 How did you learn about STDs and safe sex? Was it culturally specific through organizations or just through personal experiences?
I basically learned on my own, not through sexual experiences. For I lost my virginity at the age of 18, to me it was self-explanatory; and I was taught of what to do and what not to do. It wasn't complicating to convince me to protect myself. I have enough heath problems I deal with, I don't need an STD/HIV/AIDS on my back as well.

If you are out to your family, describe how difficult/easy your "coming out" experience was. Was there any particular family member you felt most comfortable telling? Why? Was there someone you felt least comfortable telling? Why?
Funny that this question is asked. It was the easiest to tell my cousin, of who I don't speak to anymore, at the age of 13. She was my closest sibling, and we talked about everything. I was relieved when I told her, but it's also her fault of why I came out to my family so soon. In result I have to thank her as well, because if it weren't for her I don't know where I'd be right now. And as for the least comfortable it would be my mother. My mother has watched me grow up and be physically challenged with certain aspects, and it was fearing to me that one day I'd have to tell her. But the one thing I can remember her saying is, "I want you to be careful Stephan, you already have the disadvantage of being considered handicapped; now you're also gay as well. I don't want you getting hurt." It shocked me with that, because it made it sound as if I asked for the extra emotional baggage. I am who I am, and I'm not going to hide it for anyone.

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