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Does this make me look Latina?

20 Jan

I was recently asked to give a presentation about women in the workforce to a group of Latina undergraduate students. After the panic about speaking in public wore off, I started asking myself, what could I possibly teach them?

I started thinking about my experiences (as a student and professional) and how they have been shaped by the cultural imaginary of Latinos in this country. Too many stereotypes persist and continue to negatively affect Latinos. You know them. I will not waste my time listing them here. I will, however, say that after going through the long list of stereotypes that have kept and continue to keep my people oppressed, the next things that came to mind was the Latin Explosion of the late 90’s. This explosion introduced Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Ricky Martin, and Shakira to the American mainstream. One of the most frustrating realities of this so-called “explosion” is the idea that these people became famous overnight. Just in case you did not know this, Marc Anthony, Ricky Martin, Shakira and the newly popular Sofia Vergara were HUGE in Latin America and filthy rich before their “cross-over” to the American mainstream. We had already loved and obsessed over them for years. History lesson: there are 32 Spanish-speaking countries around the world. Of these 32 Spanish is the official language of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Spain, Equatorial Guinea and Puerto Rico. Each of these countries has a rich complex history, their own entertainment industries and again…lots of famous people. Anytime I hear an ignorant American-made statement about Latinos in this country, I remember Susiemaye’s mama and her words of wisdom, “We were kings and queens when they were still running around in caves.” But, I digress. Lets get back to my dilemma. What can I possibly tell these young women about being professional Latinas in the workforce? How can I equip them for the challenges they will surely encounter?

In my research I came across an article in the most recent issue of Latina magazine: “Latinas at the office: do we need to tone down our sex appeal?” The article focused on different Latinas who have been negatively affected by their imagined sex appeal. One of these women, Debrahlee Lorenzana, is currently in a lawsuit with Citigroup. Her allegations: she was fired because her male colleagues and supervisors believed she was too distracting at the office. After seeing images of her in her business attire I couldn’t help but marvel at her beauty (she is indeed breathtaking) and wanting to be her (if only I could rock stilettos like that).

While reading about this case, I started thinking about the current cultural imagery of Latinas. The so-called “Latin Explosion,” did in fact open many doors and in many ways solidified that we actually existed. We knew we existed but apparently white people didn’t. It isn’t a coincidence that after Jennifer Lopez’s rise to fame, several people (black and white) told me that I looked like/reminded them of Jennifer Lopez. Side note, I don’t look like Jennifer Lopez.

So, who are today’s mainstream Latinas and what can we say about their representation in the media? On basic television: Sara Ramirez (Grey’s Anatomy’s resident hot, lesbian Latina doctor), Eva Longoria (Desperate ‘hot Latina’ Housewife), Sofia Vergara  (Modern Family’s hot, young Latina wife), Rosalyn Sánchez (Without A Trace’s hot special agent) and Salma Hayek (most recently Alec Baldwin’s hot Latina girlfriend). In movies: Jennifer Lopez, Eva Mendez, Zoe Saldana, Rosario Dawson, Jessica Alba, America Ferrera, Penelope Cruz, Paz Vega, Michele Rodriguez, Rosie Perez and Christina Milan; all of them often cast as the hot Latina light-skinned girlfriends of white men (but that’s another post). What do all of these women have in common? You guessed it: they are all HOT Latinas.

So what are these young women about to encounter after graduation? As women and as women of color, the obvious: sexism, racism, and working harder than everyone else because they have to prove they are (one) qualified and (two) deserve to be there.  As Latinas: working with people of other backgrounds who very likely have only been exposed to one-dimensional representations of Latina women – hot, sexy, curvaceous, (and my favorite) spicy. They might be even hotter if they have accents or not quite Latina enough if they either lack the accent (because maybe their people have been here for over 300 years) or if, heaven forbid, lack the curves.

My presentation will of course include a modified version of this tangent and the following list of advice. As my online community of feminists, activists, scholars, sisters, friends, professionals and colleagues, I invite you read along and add to the list whatever advice has proven to be beneficial for you.

  1. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.
    1. First impressions can make or break your career, which means you must dress for success.
    2. Invest in a quality/appropriate wardrobe. If you are on a tight budget: frequent department stores such as TJ Maxx, and Marshalls. Also, don’t sleep on Goodwill or the Salvation Army: I have found many of my favorite pieces in second hand stores.
  2. Respect and acknowledge every individual’s contribution to your company/institution. Everyone from the cleaning personnel to the administrative assistants, to the company CEO makes significant contributions to your organization.
    1. I have had just about every possible job you can imagine. I have learned to make friends with everyone especially those that didn’t have the access to the resources/paycheck that I had. How did this help me? For starters, when I was a waitress – I was having lobster dinners (because I loved the cooks and they loved me). While I was a graduate student, I never paid for the many lattes and brownies that got me through it. They say it’s important to have friends in high places but experience has taught me that it’s more important to have friends in all places, especially when they are people of color.
  3. Know the ins and outs of your field.
    1. Stay informed. Read newsletters, journals, magazines, blogs etc. that incorporate current events/updates/important discoveries in your field.
  4. Define clear goals for yourself.
    1. What do you want from this career? How will you get there?
  5. Find a mentor.
    1. This was great advice I received from a fellow Latina. The mentor doesn’t have to be a woman or even of the same race. Find a person in the position you want, forge a professional relationship with them, find out what they did to get where they are, and start making moves to get there.
  6. Mentor other young women.
    1. The reality is that there aren’t enough women of color in positions of power. It is important to role model professional success for young girls who are constantly bombarded with negative messages of what it means to be women of color.
  7. Read. Read. Read.
    1. Read books that focus on leadership and managing people. Some of my favorites include: How to Win Friends and Influence People, See Jane Lead, and Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office.
    2. If you can’t afford to buy these books, head to your neighborhood library or spend lots of time at your favorite bookstore.
  8. Attend seminars geared toward cultivating your leadership qualities.
    1. There are plenty of organizations out there. Do your research. Sign up for a workshop that will help you advance your career.
  9. Find support groups for women/women of color in your field.
    1. If there aren’t any, start one.
  10. Work should NEVER be your life. Make your physical, emotional and mental health a priority. No one is will do this for you.
    1. Incorporate a balanced diet and exercise program to your lifestyle.
    2. Make sure you get enough sleep.
    3. Make the time to do something you love and spend time with the people you love.
  11. Stay connected to your college/university alum network.
    1. Often times, alums are the best way to secure internships or even get your foot into the door.
  12. After you graduate make sure you give back to your college/university.
    1. I know that the thought of giving money to your already rich institution (while still paying student loans) might make you scream. However, making donations (however small) to specific scholarships for minority students or cultural groups on campus makes your alma mater know that you mean business and want to make sure they continue investing in their students of color.

The Contract

11 Nov

Once upon a time when Crunkista was a graduate student, she was heavily addicted to procrastination. It was her drug of choice. She made friends with another queer woman of color in graduate school who shared in her unhealthy habit and their marathon nights of not getting any actual work done are the things comic strips are made of. On one of those particular nights, we were talking about how hard it was to be single, queer, and broke graduate students. (Side note, we were both very gay but never EVER dated. Everyone thought we dated because we were inseparable but ewwwwww she’s like my sister). I digress, so we are sitting in the library at 3am, (you know so that we can focus on our work) and we come up with a brilliant idea. What do you do when you are too busy and stressed out to actually search for/have a relationship; there really aren’t any viable candidates to date; you are feeling lonely, or you are just a sad little graduate student in need of some tender loving care? You find somebody to spoon with. I know it may sound ridiculous [Before you even go there–we never ever spooned]. We did, however, come up with a fool-proof contract so that others could use this brilliant idea of ours. After much laughter and brilliant hours of drafting it, I am sad to say that somehow we lost the contract. There are some things I remember though, so I’ll share it with you just in case you are a lonely graduate student or just plain lonely.

SPOONING CONTRACT

Section I

I _____________ and _____________ are spooning partners and we:

1. Share the same sad situation: queer, broke, lonely students who could really benefit from occasional nights of spooning.

2. Have a close, personal relationship and genuinely care about each other’s feelings.

3. Agree that we are not trying to date; secretly pursue a one-night stand, short-term or long-term relationship.

4. Are jointly responsible for providing a safe spooning environment which includes clean linens and, when possible, breakfast in the morning.

Section II

We understand that this affidavit shall be terminated upon any parties’ commitment to another person or by change of circumstance attested to this affidavit.

Section III

After such termination, we understand that another affidavit of Spooning cannot be filed until 3 weeks after break-up of aforementioned commitment occurs.

Section IV

We understand that this information will be held confidential. NO Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter updates on spooning partner’s information or status are allowed.

Section V

1. Before spooning event, the roles of spooner and spoonee will be chosen.

  • a. These roles can always be reversed when both parties agree to those terms.

2. Spooning sessions are meant to provide comfort and warmth.

  • a. Both parties agree to save the drama for their mama.

Signatures

___________________________________ Date __________

___________________________________ Date __________

A Broken hearted feminist

28 Jul

Okay, so now that I have shared with you the trials and tribulations of coming out to my mother, the difficulty of working in an often homophobic academic environment and revealed my most un-feminist moments, I feel like we’re friends now. I mean, you sure do know a lot about me. Some things you may not know about me: writing terrifies me, I’m so private that Facebook freaks me out on a daily basis, and I’m actually quite shy. But now that we are friends, and I have invited you into my life, I feel like I can share some more.

So…Crunkista has had her heart broken, torn straight out of her chest, and trampled on by many a woman. Each time it happens, I dramatically ask myself “WHY ME? WHYYYYYYYY?” Is it me? Am I asking for too much? Is compassion, loyalty, kindness, maturity, love, respect, feminist/progressive ideals, and friendship too much to expect from another person? The most important question: why do I keep dating different manifestations of the same woman?

So, as I ponder on my fate as a brokenhearted feminist, and after yet another trifling disappointment, I am forced to bring back and share with you my foolproof “How to get over my ex checklist”:

To Do List

• Cry. A lot.

• Listen to Jill Scott’s live rendition of “Love Rain.” On repeat. Why? Because, “You broke me, but I’m healing.”

• Become extra diligent at work. It keeps your mind busy and will only make your boss appreciate you more.

• Call on your girls. Like true friends they will always tell you that “she was indeed a fool, that you are pretty damn-near perfect, and that it was undoubtedly her loss.”

• Get yourself a therapist. S/he definitely won’t tell you that you are perfect and may help you sort out through a lot of issues. Objectively.

• Don’t call your mother. She will only tell you that this would have never happened, had you dated a man. Don’t call her. **Disclaimer: many mothers are feminist/supportive but when it comes to my sexuality, mine just isn’t there yet. Hopefully, one day she will be.**

• Spend ridiculous amounts of time at the gym. Endorphins are like crack. Whether you are working up a sweat or watching other people work up a sweat, it will at least get you out of the house. More importantly, moderate physical activity is good for your mind, body and spirit.

• Stop checking her Facebook page. Seriously. Stop. In fact, delete her from your Facebook friends. Delete all of her friends too. Within the very small queer community this can get complicated and sometimes may result in severe loneliness. But, trust me. Updates of pictures of your ex with a new girl (less than a week after the break up) may send you into uncontrollable fits of rage, despair, and unhealthy criminal fantasies. You do not want to be the next woman featured on Snapped.

• Watch out for the inevitable and unfortunate rebound situation. You may not be in the right emotional space to really accept another person. This is sometimes damn near impossible to do because that black hole in your heart needs some serious distraction. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.

• Reread your favorite books. Alchemist here we go again.

• Do something you have always wanted to do but for whatever reason didn’t. In my case, taking salsa classes has been my saving grace. I have a new found family of left-footed misfits who make me laugh at least twice a week.

• Cry some more. Sometimes you won’t even know why but you just have to.

Lately, and like I said after “yet another depressing disappointment,” my “fool proof” list isn’t enough and I need to do something truly feminist. I need to ask for help. I need to call on my sisters because I need some real feminist answers. So I ask you, friend, how do you mend a broken feminist heart?

Crunkista’s Top 5 unfeminist moments

4 Jul

Crunkastic recently reminded me that even the crunkist of the feminists has her/his moments and it got me thinking. Spreading the feminist word (although incredibly gratifying at times) just ain’t easy. I have to admit that being crunk comes naturally to me but honestly being feminist all day everyday…is ROUGH. Acknowledging each and every oppression and holding myself and others accountable for oppressive practices just doesn’t come easy. It can often be exhausting. It is a true process. In truth, I am still learning how to define what feminism means in my life and what being a feminist entails. So, why am I writing this? Because I want all of the CFs and CFs in training to know that none of us are perfect. We all have our journeys. Sometimes they’re clearer than others. We’ll fuck up often, but learning from those mistakes makes us stronger; smarter. Because this is a learning process, I’ll be the first to share with you my top five most unfeminist moments.

5) Dancing to every PITBULL song at the club and sadly knowing all of the not-even–close-to-feminist lyrics.
[**I have no excuse. I really can’t help myself. Damn those beats.]

4) Letting family members get away with any sexist, racist, misogynist, and/or homophobic remarks.
[**Often times I go off on them. But I have realized that lecturing the old and young folk about patriarchy, sexism, colonialism, internalized racism, and the ills of most organized religions does not make you the popular cousin during the Thanksgiving meal. It makes them “forget” to invite you over next year.]

3) Wanting to have Maxwell’s baby.
**[I LOVE susiemaye but I would cut her if she got in the way of me and my future baby daddy, Maxwell. Feminist on feminist violence is NOT Feminist. Especially when you’re gay.]

2) Putting up with all of my exes’ bullshit. I can’t even list all of it ya’ll, but trust…it was too much.
[**Putting up with immature, misogynist, hypocritical, selfish, abusive behavior of any kind is NOT feminist. Being in communicative, honest, tender, loving, supportive, healthy, positive relationships…that’s feminist.]

1) Faking it. More than once…actually quite often.
[**These days, making sure my needs are REALLY met is the most feminist thing I can think of. Orgasms are FEMINIST and I gots no time for fake ones.]

Please feel free share yours.

~Crunkista

Things that make Crunkista angry

10 Jun

1) White privilege.
2) Heteronormativity.
3) Racism.
4) Hearing Latinos referred to as “spicy.” ~ Bite me.
5) Fox News. ~ Refer to #1 and #3.
6) Stupid people. ~ They are everywhere. They procreate. They choose their “own” truths. Refer to #3, #4 and #5.
7) When American women call women of other cultures second-class citizens, as if we’re exempt. ~ Women in this country do not have that much to celebrate, especially women of color. Refer to #1, #2, #3, #4 and #5.
8] Patriarchy. ~ It’s still over. Stop calling me. Refer to the “Dear Patriarchy” post.
9) Glamour, Cosmopolitan and all other magazines like them. ~ I don’t need to learn another way to lose my belly fat or thrill my man in bed. YOU suck it.
10) Republicans.
11) Democrats.
12) The state of Arizona and all of the Xenophobia running rampant in this country. ~ This nation was established on the principles of greed, injustice, land theft, genocide and immigration. In fact, this country still thrives on those principles; the labor of undocumented immigrants; and the working class. How dare you? Refer to #1, #3, #4, #5, #6, #10 and #11.
13) Hate crimes and hate speech. ~ Refer to #3, #5 and #6.
14) The State thinking it can decide what laws apply to my body. ~ MY body. Refer to #8.
15) Organized religion and those who vehemently refuse to question it. ~ Refer to #5, #7 and #8.
16) Music videos on MTV, VH1, CMT and BET. ~ Women are demoralized and objectified across musical genres and television networks. Refer to #3 and #8.
17) Apathy.
18) Americans who do not exercise their right to vote. ~ Refer to #17.
19) WE, Oxygen and the growing number of Wedding Networks. ~ Million dollar weddings don’t guarantee a happily ever after, neither will that Vera Wang dress.
20) The fact that the American public school system is poorly funded; teachers are overwhelmingly unsupported and underpaid. ~ Refer to anything ever written by Jonathan Kozol.
21) When parents/guardians leave childrearing solely to teachers. ~ It takes a community, people. Refer to #20.
22) The so-called “separation” of church and state.
23) Ignorance.
24) Claims that the “re-appropriation” of hateful words that target, demoralize, oppress, and condone violence against specific groups of people is okay. ~ It’s not. It never will be. You are just doing their dirty work for them. Willingly and for free. Refer to #13, #15 and #23.
25) Dirty politicians. See #10 and #11.
26) BP and the politicians who have helped them become the company they are today. ~ Refer to #25.
27) Those who claim that feminists hate men. ~ We don’t hate men. It’s that simple…we don’t.
28) Women who think feminism is a bad word. ~ That’s what they want you to think. We actually encourage you to think for yourself! Refer to #8.
29) Ethnocentrism. ~ My culture is not better than yours. In fact, we can sit down and debate over whose is more oppressive.
30) When people start sentences with, “God said…” ~ Don’t you ever wonder what your God would say to mine? [Wait for it…] Did you ever think that perhaps your God was not the only God? [Wait for it…] What if my God was your God’s God? [Yeah I said it.] Refer to #6 and #15.
31) Pedophilia and the sexualization of children. ~ We aren’t doing enough to protect them. Refer to #17, #18 and #25.
32) The blatant racism, sexism, and violence against women occurring within the 14 billion dollar porn industry. ~ The porn industry is completely out of control and no one is doing anything about it. Refer to #1, #2, #3, #4, #13, #17, #25 and #31.
33) Sexism and violence against women. ~ It has to stop. Refer to #1 thru #32.

A todas ellas…

6 May

Two weeks ago the flu colonized my immune system. I lay in bed for what seemed like an eternity. I cried for my mami each and every one of those days. I am nearly 30 years old and I’m not kidding. I cried for my mami…sometimes for hours. This recent incident and the many hours of subsequent heavily-medicated-induced hallucinations forced me to think of all of the women who, along with my mother, cared for me as a child, as an adolescent and as a young adult. With Mother’s Day around the corner, I’m reflecting on all of the amazing women who loved, nurtured, protected, fed, instructed, encouraged, disciplined, motivated and inspired me. It takes a community to raise a child and it took a strong community of women to raise me.

I’d like to take the time today to thank all of those women: the babysitters, teachers, dentists, waitresses, sweatshop workers, cooks, seamstresses, lunch ladies, doctors, nurses, farmers, bus drivers, bakers, artists, hairdressers, dancers, bodega owners, nosy neighbors, crazy neighbors, grandmothers, godmothers, aunties, sisters, cousins, step-sisters, friends and cherished memories of lost loved ones. You were my role-models: my beautiful, intelligent, bossy, courageous, hard-working, curious, persistent, flawed, funny, brave, nostalgic, moody, warm, tired, gossiping, immigrant, loving, crazy, nurturing, bilingual-enough, selfless, angry, honest, struggling and complicated community of miracle workers. I took you for granted but I will never forget the lessons you taught me. Thank you. A million times…thank you.

To my own mother – You amazed me then. You amaze me now. I needed you then. I continue to need you now. I love you more than words could ever faithfully express. Please love me. All of me. Please.

Still gay, still me,
Crunkista

Dear Patriarchy,

6 Apr

Dear Patriarchy,

This isn’t working. We both know that it hasn’t been working for a very long time.

It’s not you…no actually, it is you. This is an unhealthy, dysfunctional, abusive relationship because of you. You are stifling, controlling, oppressive and you have never had my best interest at heart. You have tricked me into believing that things are the way they are because they have to be, that they have always been that way, that there are no alternatives and that they will never change. Anytime I questioned you or your ways, you found another way to silence me and coerce me back into submission. I can’t do this anymore. I’ve changed and in spite of your shackles, I’ve grown. I have realized that this whole restrictive system is your own fabrication and that the only one that is gaining anything from it is you. You selfish dick.

I will not continue to live like this. I will not continue to settle. I know now that there is a better way.

Before you hear about it from one of your boys, you should know that I have met someone. Her name is Feminism. She is the best thing that has ever happened to me. She validates and respects my opinions. She ALWAYS has my best interest at heart. She thinks that I am beautiful and loves me just the way I am. She has helped me find my voice and she makes me happier than I have ever been. We have made each other stronger. Best of all, we encourage and challenge each other to grow. And the sex…the sex is so much hotter.

I’m leaving you. You’re an asshole. We can never be friends. Don’t call me. Ever.

Never yours,
Crunkista

[Sigh]…I am so tired.

1 Apr

Sometimes there are good days to be a crunk feminist. Sometimes there are bad days to be a crunk feminist – demoralizing, dehumanizing, frustratingly sad…sad…sad…days. Today was one of those days. I sat in on an undergraduate Women’s and Gender Studies course where the topic of the day was gay rights. Sigh. Within an hour, students weighed in on the pros and cons of gay marriage. Some comments were thoughtful, some were insightful, others however…others, however, just broke my heart. Sigh. Students defended upholding civil unions and not gay marriage because and I quote “humans are curious, if we allow people of the same-sex to marry everybody will want to do it, just to try it out.” Really? Is sexual preference a fad, something you can try on like a purple or orange sweater? Really? Sigh. Then there was the, “well I have some friends at [insert women’s college name here] and they say that it is popular for students to date girls in college and then marry men. [insert class laughter here] You know, like lesbians until graduation.” Sigh. What does that have to do with gay rights? Let me break down the subtext of that statement for you – since some young adults “experiment” and date people of the same sex and later grow out of it…gay people can do the same: grow out of it.
As a grown-ass professional woman who has been part of several/different struggles for equal rights (i.e. not limited to sexual choice), I’m over the privileged and entitled notion that it is acceptable for one group to enjoy certain privileges and yet deny them to others. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for a young closeted or questioning student to hear their peers talking about gay issues in such a careless way. Being gay in this and most (deeply heterosexist and homophobic) societies is difficult. Being gay-across cultures, ethnicities, class, religions and geographic locations-is complicated. It’s dangerous. There have been and continue to be countless acts of violent aggression (in all forms) towards LBGTQI identified individuals. I’m so tired of LBGTQI identified folks being forced to defend who they are. I’m so tired of hearing straight people talk about countless/complicated LBGTQI issues in such ignorant and utterly careless ways. I’m so tired of calling them out on their homophobic/biphobic/transphobic/queerphobic (you name it phobic) verbal diarrhea, just to hear them say, “I’m not homophobic, I have gay friends.” No you don’t. NO. YOU. DON’T. If you did, you wouldn’t say stupid shit like the crap I called you out on. If you did, you would understand that at the end of the day it is about love. It’s about cherishing love. It’s about being lucky enough to find love. It’s about doing everything in your power to keep love in your life. IT’S. ABOUT. LOVE.

Don’t be fooled, the ignorant comments don’t stay within the world of heterosexist privilege, they happen everywhere. The LBGTQI community is no exception. Why? Because, no one is perfect. Because, we have all been socialized to label and put people in categories. We all need to be checked from time to time. Sometimes the biggest dykes willingly sleep with men; sometimes the most flaming gay men sleep with women (gasp!-for pleasure). It doesn’t make them any less gay. People are too often judged, then asked to prove their level of “gayness” as if it could be measured. Furthermore, many within the same community are quick to silence and deny transfolks their rights. I’m so tired. The bullshit has to stop. Sexuality is fluid. If you can’t understand that, it is not appropriate to attack it/question it. Most people don’t know just how airplanes work, and yet they get on those flights fully trusting that the magic contraption will get them to their destination. Most people don’t really understand how all those little people can fit in those flat screens everyday, and yet they still turn them on. If you still don’t understand it…maybe you don’t have to, maybe you just never will.

Don’t put me in a box. I’ll only crush it.

Don’t question my sexual preferences. They are mine.

Labels are restrictive, exploring and expressing your true self is liberating.

If you can’t understand that, go read a book. Figure it out. I’m tired today and just don’t have the time. But, please don’t get it twisted…I’ll be extra crunk tomorrow.

Reflections on coming out and family

11 Mar

As a queer Latina I juggle intertwining, complex and often competing identities. One of my most defining identities is that of daughter. My mother is one of the most amazing women I know. Although she would never refer to herself as the “f” word, I firmly believe that I am the independent, strong, determined, educated and fierce feminist I am, thanks to her example. Growing up in a single-parent household meant that for most of my life, my mother was my best friend. That all changed, however, when I came out to her.

Although realizing that I was queer meant finally figuring out another important part of my identity (and one that made me incredibly happy), it was a part of me that my mother refused to accept and in most cases even acknowledge. In her eyes I couldn’t be both a good daughter and gay. Inevitably, I lost my best friend and in many ways a part of me.

The journey has been a painful one and one that I am still healing from. I have had to distance myself from friends and family that could not accept all of me. Throughout this journey, however, I am happy to say that I have been blessed. I found a community of crunk feminist sisters who not only accept and love all of me, but challenge me to learn, teach, grow and forgive everyday.

In an effort to find some humor in all of the sadness that oftentimes comes from coming out to family, I decided to compile a list of some of the most memorable conversations between my mother and myself. I shared this for the first time at a QWOC+ (Queer Women of Color and friends) event titled: “Queer Multiculturalism: A Discussion about Coming Out to Different Cultures and Communities of Color.” I share this again with this community because you showed me that although you can’t choose your family, you can always choose to have more than one.

Top Ten interactions with my mom: chronological order may have happened within minutes, days, weeks, months, years

Numbered items are my mother’s words, items in parenthesis, my responses


10. Why don’t you have a boyfriend?

(I’m the first to go away to college. Why don’t you ever ask me about what I’m learning in college and where the heck is my care package? My white friends get care packages every weekend!)

9. If you don’t find a boyfriend soon, how will you ever get married?

(Mom, seriously its after midnight – I have a paper to write.)

8. When are you going to have kids?

(I don’t know mom, I’m at an all women’s college, might be tough.)

7. What do you mean you don’t want to have kids! You’re already a graduate student! How much more do you need to study? What else is there to learn? Are there men in your classes?

(Mom, seriously stop oppressing me.)

6. Why is your friend’s hair so short and why is she always here?

(Yeah about that….mami, I’m gay.)

5. How could you do this to me?

(Mami, look at me…I’m glowing! I’m so happy! I’ve never felt this way about anyone else in my entire life! It took me 22 years to figure it out but everything in my life finally makes sense now.)

4. I’d rather see you pregnant with a drug addict’s baby than see you with a lesbian woman.

(I was not expecting that one. None of the ‘coming out to your parents’ books mentioned that as a possible reaction.)

3. Don’t tell your younger sister or she’ll think she is gay too.

[Rolling my eyes]-(Yeah mom, its contagious. You better watch out.)

2. Your sister is gay and it’s ALL your fault!

(That’s impossible, she’s gayer than I am.)

1. You are my daughter and I love you but why do you always have to bring up the fact that you’re gay.

(Because, you keep asking me about my boyfriend).