A Latina actor and ally values the importance of lesbian and bisexual events.
Several years ago, my grandmother turned 90. We celebrated with a family reunion/birthday, complete with mariachis, at an Italian eatery in South Florida. My grandmother, one of 11 children, is the only surviving sibling, so this was a momentous occasion. All her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and their children attended the event.
Wine poured as mariachis played, and my grandmother felt loved, and celebrated. We all drank too much, but especially by daughter, who was in her early twenties. As the afternoon closed, the adults who didn’t want the party to end, continued the merriment at a nearby night club.
The drinking escalated, the dancing ensued, and the camaraderie flowed. Eventually, my baby girl, turned to my husband and I, with a somber expression, and confessed she had something to disclose to us. She explained something had been weighing heavy, and since we were all gathered, for this auspicious occasion, this would be the appropriate time, to tell us, that she was gay. My daughter was coming out to me, in a loud night club, on the eve of my grandmother’s 90 birthday. I had no time to process this… She seemed nervous about being judged (as you can imagine), but we immediately reassured her with open arms, that we loved her despite, whom she chose to love. We hugged, and kissed and cried. As the night progressed she continued to unburdened herself to her grandmother, aunts, cousins, and friends. And we all felt the same. If she was happy— we were happy.
The next day, I waited for a quiet moment to talk to her, as naturally I was curious as to when this revelation had occurred.
She went on to explain, that she had been dating a young woman, for the past several months, back in New York, where she was getting her degree in film editing. And both my husband and I concurred, that we would love to meet her, at some point. I was so proud. My daughter was a smart, well adjusted gay woman. I was happy for her, and her newfound freedoms.
Months later, I paid her a visit in NYC, only to discover that she was dating a young man. I immediately called my husband to relay the “new” dating discovery; and as we raised eyebrows and laughed, we shrugged it off as just a phase. But silently I was relieved. Relieved that my daughter, who would be subject to sexism and racism, wouldn’t now be exposed to homophobia. No parent wants their child to suffer, no matter how open minded they are. I assured myself it was normal, that young women often experiment with their sexuality, and perhaps she had realized that she preferred the opposite sex. Who cares. I wasn’t judging. But was I…?
My daughter ended up moving to LA with this boyfriend, and life went on, as the family expanded with his presence, and thoughts of perhaps children. As a mother, I felt that I had raised a healthy and experimental young lady, who was just sowing her oats. And now she was ready to settle down. She was making great strides in the editing field, which is heavily dominated by men. And she was exploring her artistry as a painter.
One day, I flippantly made a comment about her “gay phase”, and with anger and resentment, she turned to me and said, “It wasn’t a phase, Mom, I am bisexual.”
And that’s when my jaw dropped open. I didn’t know what to say… I felt so ashamed that I had expected her to be heterosexual, now that she was dating a man. I had assumed, that because she had never labeled herself as being bisexual, that meant that she was not gay anymore… I assumed that because she had fallen in love with a man—that she couldn’t possibly love a woman in the same way. I was a parent at an early age—they don’t have manuals for this stuff! I took some time to reflect, and apologized for my inadvertent callousness to her feelings. If only I had known… I wish she had confided in me. I realized I would benefit immensely from some kind of sensitivity training.
As a female actor, artist, blogger, activist, and parent, I feel it is imperative for celebrities to support events that raise the awareness platform for the LGBTQ community.
That is why I will be attending the The Dinah this year, hopefully with my daughter in tow, as part of my sensitivity training program. The Dinah has continually offered a place of unity for the LGBTQ community. A place to congregate, in celebration of diversity, and the accomplishments of lesbian, bisexual, queer women and their allies as successful beings, entrepreneurs, parents, and conscientious members of our society. A safe haven where women don’t need labels to explore their sexuality, and are free to organically claim self-expressing labels that arise out of their own positive self image. And to start a conversation, that includes parents of the LGBTQ community, to help them transition into a safe language, that we can all share. Now, that is something to be lauded. Think of The Dinah as a poolside training camp for the parents of LGBTQ. Here’s to training!