Today is Coming Out Day. It was first celebrated in 1988, a time where AIDS was killing gay men all over the world, politicians largely ignored it existed and families had to make the decision of finally acknowledging their dying sons. In my novel “Fairy Tale of a Mexican Family” the main character Damian has to come out to his parents. He enlists the aid of his beloved uncle Jacobo and when he comes out, his parents get angry and act as if it doesn’t exist.
My story is very different. I am thankful my parents acknowledged it and eventually accepted and unconditionally loved me. My family has been very supportive and I want to tell you the story of when I came out to my grandpa, Raul.
I enlisted the help of my aunts to come out to my grandparents and once they sat down I told them I was gay. The next words out of my grandfather, a man born in 1923 who loved Reagan, shocked my aunts and me. To the extent that I turned to my Tia Elsa and she mouthed ‘Wow’ to me. He said that God made me the way I am and that he can’t turn me straight. He said that the most important thing for him is that I was happy. That day in April, he accepted me and loved me unconditionally. Over the years, he was a fierce advocate of LGBTQ rights. He stopped giving to a Catholic charity over a pamphlet that derided homosexuality. He would argue with others on Facebook because they would insult LGBTQ people, telling them that he disagreed with them because he had gay grandchildren and they were amazing human beings.
Up until the end, my grandfather was a champion in our family, always supporting those that didn’t have a strong enough voice. I remember him fondly and I miss him terribly, but I know I have him in my heart wherever I go.
I realize I was lucky. I know some don’t have it that easy. And it’s ok if you’re scared. And you will have people in your life that will support you, even if your family doesn’t. That’s why we have “our chosen family” because it is them that will always be there for us. Just remember—you are perfect just the way you are.
© Copyright 2022, Patrick Macfarland. All rights reserved.