I feel for me it’s a feeling that has always been inside
of me (my attraction to men ) when I finally had a sexual experience with
someone of my same gender I already knew it was what I wanted, what I was
attracted to, always. I think it’s the same as someone who identifies as
heterosexual. They have always just had a feeling for the opposite sex however
as they go through puberty those feelings become sexual and romantic naturally.
That’s how it felt for me; Natural! However do to social norms and family
expectations I resisted and didn’t accept my own sexual orientation because I
did not know of it being acceptable. I had never seen gay love ever in my life,
I wasn’t taught to be gay, I was raised to be straight. I knew who I was inside
and eventually to me I could not live a lie. I could not lie to my mother and
to those who love me. I could not lie to myself..
When did you identify yourself as a lesbian/gay man?
I knew I liked men but I did not know what words to use to describe myself at first. When you’re young I think you’re more interested in sex and love then actually confirming you’re
sexually identity with a title. It’s more the people around you that need the
confirmation and ask the questions. To be technical I identified myself as gay
at the age of 15. I identified myself as someone who was attracted to men
(physically, sexually) at the age of 12 . I remember being attracted to guys at
the age of 5
2. How out are you? How did you decide to come out (or not come out)?
For me my sexual orientation is just one small part
of who I am. I identify as a man, as Latino, as Dominican, As Cuban, as
American, as a Son, as a brother, as gay, etc…
Being out to me means being honest with those who asks, being
honest with my life. For me it doesn’t mean marching in the gay parade though
that’s totally ok and can be part of the coming out/pride process. Once again
it’s almost like asking how straight are you? Its something you are.. I decided
to come out because I needed support, acceptance, and freedom of myself and my
sexuality. I built up the strength by going to LGBT centers, talking to
mentors, and making friends that I could identify with. Coming out was a
process for me with the ultimate goal of getting my families approval
specifically my mom. It took years to fully educate my mother and gain her full
acceptance. Now she is really educated and aware of the things she’s says and
her actions and how they affect me. Even when she had a hard time with it she
still loved me unconditionally and that love really was the most important factor
for my development as a young person.
3. What do you think are commonly held misconceptions about gay men or lesbians?
That people just turn gay, that we have been molested or sexually
abused, that we cant be around children because we will influence their
sexuality, that sexual orientation is a choice. Sexual orientation is not a
choice. You can not choose or control your natural feelings to who you’re
attracted to. If you find someone hot or you see someone you’re attracted too
that’s something that just comes out naturally. Sexual behavior is what you to
decide to do.
4. How did your family (if
they know) react to the news of your sexual orientation?
It was a process, many different feelings came up. Grieving,
anger, judgment, fear, blame. My family did not coldly reject me but they were
very ignorant about everything. It’s like they wanted to accept me but they
really had to relearn some things that they were taught also have an open mind
and allow me to go through my process. The more they didn’t understand the more
I pushed. My mom also held her self responsible and had a lot of guilt, she
thought she had did something wrong as a parent. So as a family we all had to
accept and let go, it took time and is a work in progress. Lucky for me now my
sexuality is not even a factor in my family anymore, they love me, accept me,
are proud of me, accept my relationships and friends, its in a no way an issue
in my life. Despite how open they are now I still have my limits like I wouldn’t
make out with my boyfriend in front of my mom, things like that. I just show my
family consideration and respect. I wanted them to just accept me and deal with
it but I realized it’s a process for them too and they are dealing with it too.
5. What has been the most difficult thing about being gay/lesbian?
The homophobia and ignorance that exist, kids still being killed,
the violence, kids being homeless cause the rejection, the over all rejection,
the verbal abuse, dealing with the whole religious issues and the damage that
has on the spirit
6. What do social workers need to know in order to be most helpful to lesbians and gay
Social workers need to know and be informed on the sexuality model.
They also need to know how to meet clients where they are at and not impose
their own beliefs. Keep in mind beliefs are not facts and to have an open mind.
Social workers need to know that the LGBT community face a lot of issues and
their support and services are highly imperative