Nov 01, 2014

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Vanessa Libertad Garcia: On Being Latina & Lesbian

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Vanessa Libertad Garcia, Latina Lesbian

Interview with Vanessa Libertad Garcia

This is an interview with Vanessa Libertad Garcia, a filmmaker and writer living in Los Angeles, California, about lesbianism and her story on “coming out” and dealing with her sexuality as a Latina.

When did you first realize you were gay?

I’d known since I was very little, about 4 years old, that the way I felt about certain girls or women was to be kept secret because it wasn’t “the norm”.  I didn’t know, however, what the label or categories were for those feelings.  I didn’t know they were “lesbian” in nature.  I just knew they were uncommon and could be used to ostracize me so I stuffed them down for years.

Have you “come out”?

I came out to myself and, immediately afterward, to all of my friends in the first year of college when I was 18 years old.

When you “came out” to your family, tell us what that was like. How did you feel? How did they respond?

Coming out to my family was a sort of gradual process.  I came out to my immediate family such as mom and close cousins around the same time I came out to my friends.  All my other family members learned about my lesbianism through the grapevine and that was that.  It hasn’t been made a big deal thus far.  It took my mom about a month after I first told her to get over the shock because she never expected me to come out, but even then she was sincerely supportive.

My whole family, thankfully, has been really accepting and loving. Especially my mom.  There’s been no fuss made about my being a lesbian.  Even my grandma, whom I recently told, took the news refreshingly well.  I mean, once in a blue moon, cliche questions will pop up in conversation like, “Maybe you just haven’t met the right boy yet?” or “Why don’t you just give a man a try to be sure?”  To which I always reply, “Well, maybe you just haven’t met the right girl yet?” or “Why don’t you just give a woman a try to be sure?” They usually empathize and we laugh it off.

I think it helps that my eldest aunt (on my mother’s side) came out of the closet 20 years before I did.  Sadly, she had to barrel through our Cuban family’s old world homophobic disdain and rejection, but I believe her painful process ultimately humanized “the gays” in our family and paved the way for the smooth acceptance I later experienced.  By the time I came out, being a lesbian in the family was old news.

I definitely felt nervous about telling my family that I was a lesbian. Nervous that they’d think I was creepy or strange… Honestly, I still don’t feel completely comfortable talking about my love life with them because, well, girls just didn’t talk about other girls like that in the Latin families I grew up around.  I am more aware now than ever, however, that my uncomfortableness is just internalized homophobia flaring up and that, in fact, I have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.  Consequently, I’ll challenge myself to share with them about my lesbian lifestyle, more than I’d like to, as practice.  Discussing it helps me practice embracing the naturalness, normalcy, and beauty of my homosexuality.

What problems have you faced with your family as a result?

Nothing serious so far, thank goodness.

What problems have you faced in the Latino community as a result?

None so far either.  Gratefully, I’ve experienced warmth, acceptance, and support from the Latino communities I form part of — mainly film and literary.

What is your advice to other gay/bi Latinas out there who may feel alone – who maybe are younger or just haven’t come out yet?

Whether bi or gay, your sexuality is perfect.  There’s nothing wrong with you. You have nothing to be ashamed of, I promise.  You are not alone. There are millions like you. We are everywhere. The GLBTQ community is huge and powerful and loves you very much. We defend and stand by you. Come find us.  There are Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender centers and organizations all around the world. You don’t have to hide who you are ever again.  A distant Christian family member once told me, “But it’s just not natural, Vanessa.  Being gay is not natural.”  To which I replied, “Then why did it naturally happen to me?”  We’re all Nature’s children and equal in Her eyes.

Anything else you’d like to say?

Come out of the closet and go fall in love in with some gorgeous chicas, ya lezzies ;)  Have a blast loving and being loved!

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About Vanessa: Vanessa Libertad Garcia is a filmmaker and writer living in Los Angeles, California.

Her debut book, The Voting Booth After Dark: Despicable, Embarrassing, Repulsive is a collection of short stories and poems interwoven into a gripping narrative that follows a group of gay and lesbian Latino club kids during the course of the 2008 presidential elections. As they plunge deep into the agonizing lows of anxiety and addiction, we see how they affect and are affected by the national politics happening around them. It’s available for purchase as an e-book or paperback via numerous well-known and independent sites such as Amazon.com, BarnesAndNoble.com, and GiovannisRoom.com.


www.vanessalibertadgarcia.com (Main Website)
www.facebook.com/votingboothafterdark (Facebook)

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Interviewed by contributor, Tracy López

 

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Tracy López

Tracy López

Tracy is a writer living outside the D.C. Metro area. Her blog, Latinaish.com, examines cultural differences she discovers as she navigates life in a bicultural, bilingual family.

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Comments

  1. Great interview. It is so important that GLBTQ men and women of all cultures speak out to help create a more tolerant society and to encourage others to come out and find support networks in GLBTQ communities. Many thanks to Tracy and to Vanessa for contributing to a climate of acceptance, love, and equality among people of different cultures, genders, and sexualities.

  2. Great post. Will tweet it to my network.

  3. yesenia grillo says:

    Nice to read

  4. humincat says:

    Just found this and I love it!! My mother is in a lesbian relationship and I was VERY nervous about my Mexican husbands traditional family to find out. They were absolutely wonderful about the whole thing and I received nothing but support, along with a few tension-breaking jokes from my brother-in-laws. Great experiences are out there to be had, so lets all just be honest with who we are and who our loved ones are.

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