Ricardo Sebastian

California, South Bay, USA

Entrepreneur

Gay, Male / 17 and Under, 18-22, 23-29 / Hispanic or Latinx / Catholic

When I was 10 I knew I was different, but I didn’t know what that meant. Some of the neighborhood boys would call me a faggot, but I didn’t even understand words like gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, or queer. I didn’t even know they existed.

My Aunt Nora is an amazing woman and when she saw the bullying I was experiencing, she took me aside, held my hands gently, and explained what it meant to be gay. This was my first epiphany in life. All of a sudden everything made sense. I understood myself in a new way, so I looked my aunt in the eyes and said “Ok, I’m gay.”

This was the greatest moment in my short life. Without hesitation, I walked across the street to my family’s apartment, opened the door and shouted “MOM, guess what!? I’m GAYYY!”

I was beyond excited to share this newfound information with my mom, but my bold statement was greeted with bewildered eyes and lots of tears. I didn’t understand. Did I hurt my mom? Looking back I realize she wasn’t crying because I hurt her. She was crying out of fear that someone might take my life because I was choosing to be my true self. Then my father came home.

At this point, I should probably let you know that both my parents were old school Hispanic-Roman-Catholics; and my father was a Sergeant for the National Guard… awkward.

He walked in and immediately wanted to know why we were crying. My mother tried to quickly compose herself and to come up with a cover story, but my dad wasn’t buying it. He walked me to my room, looked me in the eyes, and asked for the truth. I was terrified at this point and sobbing so hard that I could barely get words out. I didn’t want to hurt my father too.

I looked up, right into his eyes, and said, “Mom is crying because I told her I’m gay.” His first born son, gay. It was as if I could see the life he dreamt for me being ripped away. His eyes filled with emotion. He grabbed me and started to shake me, screaming “What do you mean you’re gay!? Gay is sexuality. How can you know your sexuality unless you’re having sex!?”

This only confused me further. Maybe he was right. Maybe I was too young to know myself this well. So I took it back. In that moment he believed me, but I don’t think he really did.

My lie was accepted because we could at least pretend this never happened. It became the unspeakable subject that drove me away from my family. It broke our relationship and the next several years would push me to try to be someone I’m wasn’t. It was effing terrible.

I slipped into a deep, dark depression. I no longer fantasized about all the incredible things life has to offer. Instead, my mind, heart and soul were consumed with fantasies of how I would die. I wanted this life to be over with. And then a flickering light of hope came into my life. Her name was Brandy.

She changed everything for me. She was also the strangest person I had ever met. She wore all black, heavy makeup and studded accessories. I was actually quite terrified of her when we first met but we bonded over our love for musicians like The Doors, Janis Joplin and Hendrix. This girl made me feel like I wasn’t alone in the world and she pushed me to be myself. You see, if you don’t have an identity, you can’t become who you are. You just become what you think everyone wants you to be.

The time had come. I had to explain to my parents that, after years of soul searching, I could no longer lie. I’m gay. That’s all there is to it. This second time around I decided to call them while they were at work. Not a good idea and definitely not a recommendation. I dropped an emotional bomb on them and they had to deal with it in front of their coworkers. For that I am sorry.

It took years for my parents to come around. I know in my heart that they always loved me but my mere existence challenged everything they believed. Coming out was not easy. Becoming the person I am today was not easy. Opening their minds to the fact that our family is far from traditional was not easy for my parents, but we did it together. Through the highs and the lows, we never stopped loving each other and that’s what ultimately helped us grow to accept each other for who we are.