Coming Out Issues for Latinas and Latinos
"There are so many significant experiences in my culture that have something to do with a person's life as a heterosexual," said Sandra Telep, a Mexican-American activist in Washington, D.C. "Last night at work, my two best friends were arguing over which one would be the padrino, or godfather, at my wedding."
"Although I've come out to much of my family, I haven't come out to them yet," said Telep. "I really wonder if they would still want to be my padrino if they knew I would be committing to a life together with another woman."
Although Latina/o Americans come from various cultural backgrounds, many who come out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer share similar experiences and challenges. Some, who were raised Roman Catholic, must reconcile themselves with the church's teachings that acting on one's homosexuality is sinful. Language differences often make finding resources and support difficult, and a lack of LGBTQ Latinas/os in media and entertainment perpetuates invisibility.
Fortunately, however, anecdotal evidence suggests that a growing number of Latinas/os are coming out.
As challenging as being a gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer Latina/o may be, it can also be extremely fulfilling. Linda Villarosa, lesbian author and journalist, found the secrecy and silence too taxing. "I came out because I couldn't stand not being myself anymore," she said.
Many LGBTQ people report that after they come out, they are able to communicate better with their family and friends. Coming out at home, at work, in churches and schools will also further the visibility of LGBTQ people and help ensure that those who are still in the closet know they are not alone.