‘My Parents Had This Big Argument Over Why I Chose to Be This Way.’
The New York Times
September 16, 2007
I was born and raised in Brownsville, Brooklyn, and my mom raised me to be open to everything: to all types of sexualities. But I guess she didn’t expect it would come out in me. She’s like, “Be nice to everybody, but as long as you’re not a lesbian, that’s cool.” So when she found out I was a lesbian, it was really difficult, and she didn’t accept it at first. She still sort of doesn’t, but she deals with it.
Mostly, people in Manhattan are really open to it. I go to a center On13th Street called the LGBT Center where they have lots of programs and activities. I’m in a film class, and we’re making films about different experiences we have being lesbian.
Mine is about how my girlfriend’s parents are homophobic — really, really homophobic. We’ve been together about a year. As the relationship got stronger and stronger, the more protective her parents got, the more they tried to pull her away. In July, they sent her to live with her uncle in Chicago. She tries to call me about twice a week to check up on things, but I haven’t seen her since. I live in Far Rockaway, Queens, and my school is in Jamaica. When I came out in my school, in 10th grade, everybody was pushing me away.
When I came out, I was basically established in the school. I knew everybody. So I had to explain to them, I’m still the same person I was before. I just choose to be with another woman instead of a man.
There was a girl at my high school, and she would ask me really silly questions, like, “Angelina Jolie or Jennifer Aniston”? I’d say, “Angelina Jolie,” and she’d say, “See, only a gay person would say that.” And she goes, “Red ice cream or grape ice cream?” I’m like, “Red ice cream.” She says, “See, you’re a lesbian.”
My mom’s the type of person; she calls everyone in the family and says, “Guess what my daughter just told me!” So then my grandmother called me, and my aunt, too.
Then my father called. I don’t live with my father because my parents separated when I was a baby, but we always keep in contact. He goes:”I have gay sisters. Do you think this is genetic?” And my parents had this big argument over whose fault it was, why I chose to be this way.
My father, he still thinks it’s a phase. He’s like: “I think you’re going to have a boyfriend later on. I’m not worried about it.”
But my grandmother’s cool with it. She says, “As long as you’re not doing pornos and doing anything crazy, getting tattoos on your forehead, I don’t care who you go out with.”
My mom is just like, “Well, I wanted grandkids, and I wanted you to marry a boy,” and every now and then, she throws in: “I met this really nice guy on the train. Are you sure you don’t want to meet him?” And I’m like: “No, Mom. I have a girlfriend.”
My family was brought up as Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t believe in heaven or hell. They believe in everlasting life, that everybody’s going to die and then God’s going to bring back all the people who did right and they’ll live on this paradise earth.
And I’m not baptized, so my family’s like: “See, this is what happens when you don’t get baptized. This is what happens when you sit around and play video games instead of coming to church.” And I say, “This has nothing to do with anything.”
But the way my family was brought up, basically every little sin you commit is another strike against you being able to come back for everlasting life. They’re like: “Do you know you just added a big strike to yourself? Now you have to be extra good so he’ll think about bringing you back.”
A lot of my friends stopped talking to me, and a lot of them still don’t talk to me. My girlfriend in Chicago, I’m her first girlfriend. So when we came out in school, as a couple, everybody said: “See what you did to her? Now you’re going to bring two people down to hell.”I’m like, “O.K.” And her parents really made me feel bad. They were like: “You’re ruining our family. She was fine before she met you.”
And I said to myself, well, maybe I shouldn’t be with girls. Maybe I’m just going to ruin everyone’s life. Maybe I should just be with a boy and make everyone happy.