Gabriel Pastrana

One of the first people I came out to was my father.   I was about 19, at the end of my first year of college, and was visiting home for a break.  The night I told him was also the night of a large family party.  I remember that night because my grandmother, who’s husband died a year earlier, got a bit too drunk and ended up “making a fool of herself” when she emotional broke down over my grandfather.  She’d always been a strong willed woman: she never let her sadness show during my grandfather’s death, and insisted on acting as the strong matriarch she is.  But for some reason, at that party, surrounded by all the family of her late husband, sharing stories of his still recent memory, and with the help of some tequila liquid courage, she finally let it all out – to the chagrin of her and her daughters (my aunts).  Adding to all of it, my father was the culprit blamed for bringing the tequila.

On the way home, talking to him over the embarrassment of that night, he himself got emotionally overwhelmed, opening up about many things we’d never talked about before.  At that point, I had wanted to tell my family for some time that I was gay, so I figured better to strike while the emotional fire was hot.  I told him.

At first he was a bit shocked, stunned.  You’re gay?  Yes, dad.  You mean, you don’t like girls? You like boys?  Yes, dad.  I’d always had a fear that my father would disown me, throw me out of his house, screaming, No son of mine is going to be a FAGGOT!  He had always been the Mexican machismo type growing up, so what else could I expect?  But after that initial shock, on emotional overload and possibly feeling closer to me because of that night than any other time in my childhood, he looked straight at me, thought for a second, and said:  You know, when your mother was pregnant with you and your brother and sister, and people would ask me, what do I want, a boy or a girl?, I would always say, I want a strong, healthy baby.  And that’s what I got. I love you, and you’re my son.

Now I was the one in shock.  He hugged me, kissed me, told me he loved me, and sent me to bed.  I’ll never forget that night, and how much my father’s acceptance meant to me.  Here, ten years later, he is still probably my closest ally in a family of traditionally-minded, Catholic Mexican women, who, though might acknowledge my homosexuality, I feel have never fully accepted it.   I never thought my father was the best father while I was growing up, but after that night, and over the last ten years, he’s proven to be the best father a man could ask for.  Thank you, dad. You’re my father, and I love you too.