“The process of exploring your sexuality can be one of the most confusing and complicated things that a person can experience.” – Franshelis Calderon
Before Fran graduates in just a few days, she brings us a few more installments of her Fransexual Blog Series.
I am out. I am proud to be who I am. I am out to anyone who asks—even my mother. This was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I am still dealing with the consequences.
My mother was raised as Roman Catholic in the Dominican Republic. Homosexuality is viewed very negatively in both of these environments. She always raised me with the ideals she learned from her parents. Religion is important, and our lives’ ultimate goal is to live properly to ensure that we get into heaven. Being gay goes against this, because to Roman Catholics, it is a sin that guarantees ‘eternal damnation.’ She is a product of her environment, and she raised me in a similar one. My parents were big on church. They took us to church every Sunday, read the bible and prayed everyday. They also sent me to the Dominican Republic often for summer vacations, where it was also frowned upon openly. So to her, my sexuality is not something she taught me was acceptable. She probably views it as an act of defiance against her. She sees this as a one way ticket to hell, and subsequently feels she failed at raising me.
I have long contemplated coming out to her. It was something I have thought about doing since I found myself here at UAlbany back in 2014, FOUR years ago. Every time I thought I was ready, I psyched myself out. I thought about the countless times she reacted to the LGBTQ+ community. I thought about every time she told me that gay people were sick and needed help. Every time she made a face when she saw a same sex couple kiss. Every side comment she made about gay cousins or family members who seemed “a little off.” Regardless of these factors, I found the courage to come out. I partly owe that courage to my girlfriend. She inspires me everyday, and she made me realize I don’t want to hide her. She’s one of the most important parts of my life right now. I want to shout my love for her from the rooftops. How could I have done that without being out to my mother? Another driving force was the anticipation of wanting to come out for so long. It was time. And more time would not have changed the outcome. So, I finally did it.
I came out to her after six months of dating my girlfriend. It was spring break of this year. We both decided it was time to tell our families. It was a very spur of the moment decision. My girlfriend decided and came out first, and I followed. Personally, it was not an option for me to not be out at that point. I felt I owed her to same respect of sharing our relationship that she had granted me. Of course, I had a feeling that my mom’s reaction was going to be rough. My mom was not happy. She still isn’t. She refuses to acknowledge my relationship, and has said countless mean things to me about my sexuality. She doesn’t want to meet my girlfriend in any context, and claims she is uncomfortable and wishes I hadn’t shared this part of my life with her. I am obviously upset by her reaction, but it was expected. I knew what was going to happen. That’s why I was so hesitant to come out specifically to her. This woman raised me on the belief that homosexuality was a dastardly sin. I didn’t expect her to react any other way. However, knowing it and experiencing it were two very different situations. I knew that no amount of time would make this process easier, despite that being the excuse I made for myself. I wasted time expecting her to come around and not giving her any reason to. I feel as if now, she has a choice: to try to understand that which is so perplexing to her in an attempt to accept me, or to continue in ignorance and slowly destroy her relationship with me.
I would love to simply disregard her opinion about my sexuality. To not care and live freely, no matter how it affects her. But I cannot. I can’t ignore her feelings about it. Her opinions matter to me. Every child wants their parent’s approval, no matter how impossible it feels. And so, that makes this battle harder. I don’t want to push her but I want her to accept me. It’s hard to find the balance between trying too hard and not trying enough. Sadly, every time I’ve tried, it seems I’ve made it worse.
I don’t blame my mother. It’s easy to turn a blind eye and fall into anger and resentment towards her, but I recognize that this challenged her world view. Everything she knew and was taught growing up in the Dominican Republic, a country dominated by their beliefs against homosexuality. Everything that her religion teaches her about the subject. By all accounts, in her perspective, it is wrong. She may not be willing to learn and open her mind now, but I have faith that she will one day. She is still my mother. Even though she had such a strong reaction she had towards this part of my life, I love her.
It’s unfortunate that I cannot have support from my mother at this moment in my life, but thankfully I am comfortable enough in myself, and the support I receive from other sources in my life. I have endless support from my girlfriend, my brother, cousins, friends and the family I have created for myself at this university. Despite this support system, I still crave my mother’s approval. All I want from her is for her to be accepting of the things that make me, me. I want her love and support in all aspects of my life. And most importantly, I want her to be happy for me, for finding love and happiness where I have. Maybe one day, she will.