The talk of sexuality and relationships is a taboo subject in the Latino community. The traditional way of relationships is that marriage should be between a woman and a man, but it’s 2017, and traditions are constantly changing.
Around 4.3 percent of Latinos are considered LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender) according to the Williams Institute in 2013. Some famous LGBT Latinos include singer Ricky Martin, Fast and Furious actress Michelle Rodriguez, and Orlando Cruz, who is the first professional boxer to be openly gay.
Most Latin households would slide the conversation of someone being LGBT under the rug. This is due to the strong religious beliefs most Latinos have. There are 30.4 million people who identify as a Catholic Hispanic/Latino. Catholics define marriage as a “lasting union between a man and a woman.”
Seventeen-year-old Ana Santiago had recently come out to her family. Her mother denied her daughter’s sexuality. On the other hand, Santiago’s father has been the most accepting to her coming out.
“I was crying because I just got into a breakup and he came to lay down with me and asked what was wrong. I didn’t know how to tell him so I said ‘I’m gay. I have a girlfriend who I think I love.’ and he just said ‘I don’t care if you love a plant. I could care less and I’ll love you either way,’” Santiago said.
After that, she told the rest of her family. She has not yet completely told her mother and based on the signs, she believes her mother knows but is in denial. Santiago hopes to be comfortable with coming out to her mother, letting her know that the signs are true.
Santiago mentions her mother’s popularity as a factor in her denial.
“My mom, sister, and I are pretty well-known. I feel like she wouldn’t want that image of her daughter being like that because it’s negative attention and seen as weird to them,” Santiago said.
The Pulse nightclub shooting did open a conversation for Santiago and her family as it should for other Latino families. The tragedy occurred during the club’s Latin Night on June 12, 2016. The shooter ended 49 lives, the majority of them Latin. The event should not be ignored and is an opportunity to bring up the conversation of sexuality in homes.
Although tradition is tradition, the number of LGBTQ Latinos will always grow every day. As those numbers grow, their allies must support them, as they have become a major target for discrimination. Families accepting their children for who they are is the best support system for them.