|Coming Out :: Francisco Cortes
posted by Steve McCann on Oct 26, 2018 10:30am | comments
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Steve McCann is the director and founder of PhillyGayCalendar.com. He works full time at the Univeristy of Pennsylvania, and works in his spare time on the website. He has been an active member of the LGBT community of Philadelphia for over 10 years and feels that giving back to the community in which you live should be an important part of everyone's life.
Francisco Cortes, who describes himself as a Mexican Immigrant and gay Philadelphian. Marathoner and Golden Girls extraordinaire, is the new Director of GALAEI, a queer Latin@ social justice organization.
My coming out story is a bit funny, well it is to me. For context purposes, I’m one of 4 kids, grew up Catholic with a mother who to this day views her religion and faith as a fundamental aspect of her life. I have an older sister who during her teenage years dated boys. In her early 20s she came out to me as bisexual. While dating the woman who she would later marry, my parents caught them kissing in the kitchen. My parents thought she was my sisters best friend and were in complete shock when they saw them making out. My parents had a stereotypical idea of what a woman who likes woman “looks like” and it wasn’t their feminine daughter. Completely blindsided and confused, my mother came to my room to express her disbelief. She told me “I don’t get it, your sister was kissing her best friend, what is going on?”. I’m not sure what possessed me or gave me the confidence but I just blurted out “Yea mom, I’m gay too!”. Without missing a beat, my mother responded “Yea we know that, we’re trying to figure out what’s going on with your sister though!”.
Today, my parents and I continue to have a strong and loving relationship but what I want to articulate is how I perceived my mother’s religion as a barrier to being open about my sexual orientation. I had read and heard of many stories of young Latinx gay boys coming out to their religious parents and being shunned or kicked out. I inevitably concluded that too would be my coming out story. While there are still stories of queer youth being shunned by parents because of the family’s religion, it isn’t the only outcome. While in a lot of Latinx communities, there is a strong religious influence that to some may be a barrier to accepting queer youth, in a lot of Latinx communities there is also an emphasis on family and unity. For my parents loving their children, regardless of sexual orientation, was a Latinx tradition they upheld. Several years after coming out I asked my mother, “but doesn’t your religion tell you to hate me because I’m gay” to which she quickly responded “My religion, my god and my culture have never taught me to hate only to love”.