Editor: Many of the pitches and drafts submitted to EFNIKS are deeply personal, deeply moving, and they reflect the pain and heartache so many of us continue to live through. And even in through those tears, we rise, we thrive, we flourish, we feel joy. We are running this piece from our EFNIKS Community Manager for one reason: this story is not unusual for our QTPoC family. Please, if you read on, take care with what may trigger you: abuse, physical violence, and trauma are included in the Story of Us below. -Chief
December 31, 2007.
A strike…a flash and blur of a fist…My vision and consciousness momentarily distorted. I was falling in slow motion, but somewhere in my mind I was aware of what was happening. Punched right in the jaw. Adrenaline rushed into action throughout my body, I picked myself up as quickly as I could and fled. I ran down the walkway, across the sidewalk and through the middle of the street. I heard him behind me, trying to catch me. I made a left down the block and kept running. I heard fast running behind me, chasing me, but I didn’t dare look back. My timed sprint in softball was 2.7 seconds from home plate to first base.
I hear a faint voice behind me yelling. Yelling at me to stop. A woman’s voice though, it wasn’t him. I slowed down and looked back. She ran after me with bare feet, heels clutched in Her hands in that red dress, I remember thinking I had never seen anyone so beautiful as when She walked through my front door. Breathing heavy, I looked at Her and apologized. I was embarrassed and scared. She wasn’t the problem, the problem was he couldn’t accept me for who I am. Tears ran down my face like waterfalls in the middle of spring. She held me close to Her and told me She saw the whole thing. I kept apologizing, the word sorry kept falling out of my mouth like raindrops in the sky. She went to get Her car.
It had been a year since he forced me out of the closet. My mother and I are Filipinx. He is Latinx. He isn’t my birth father, but he was there to raise me so I called him dad. I trusted him to protect me and hoped that he’d accept me. My mother didn’t know what to say to me, she was as shocked as I was that he did this. My stepfather was blacked-out drunk and he assaulted me. He didn’t know what he did the next day. I grew up in an environment where my family and their friends would use phrases like, “Que paso joto?” and “Whatever faggot.” Even to this day, their excuse is, “Well, back in our day that’s how we talked to one another.” While I was struggling to accept my sexuality, their words and actions just made me stay hidden, pile the clothes on top of me, as well as install ten locks to keep that door shut.
She rolled up in the car, still beautiful in that red dress. My mom asked where I was going, and I told her, “Anywhere that’s not here.”
It was the end of my second year in college. I was financially dependent on my parents. My grades were failing. I had quit softball. I was giving up on everything in my life except Her. The Woman in the beautiful red dress who ran after me and took me away from that horrible situation became my girlfriend and my first true love. She was there for me in support but I could see how my family drama was wearing Her thin. When I came home for the summer, our relationship withered because my dad would not allow me to see Her. He even told me I was not to date Her anymore. She and I both accepted the toll of trying to make it work, trying to do what we could to see each other.
I don’t blame Her for being exhausted of the run around. We parted ways and although I kept my cool during our conversation of ending our relationship, I walked home tears streaming down my face and anger boiling in my blood. I couldn’t even end my first real relationship on my own terms, he was there dictating who I was to love.
My ex let me stay with her in her tiny studio apartment in downtown San Francisco until I was able to get on my feet. A few weeks staying with her and job searching I landed my first job at Adidas in the Westfield mall in Downtown SF after being recommended by one of my friends that lived in the college dorms with me. I moved out from my ex’s apartment and into my first real apartment with one of my best friends whom I now consider family.
In all honesty, without my ex or my friends being my chosen family, I’m not sure where I would be now. They were there for me when my family wasn’t. They accepted me long before my parents ever did. I had endured lonely holidays in the City because it was better than going home and feeling like I didn’t belong. My family means so much to me, but I refused to be around anyone who was not going to accept me for who I am.
It took my parents about 5 years to accept that I am a lesbian. I accepted my dad’s apology a while back. I forgave him not only because I wanted to give him a second chance to accept me but also for myself. I didn’t want to hold on to that anger and rage, I needed peace. I am thankful that he and I have become closer than we had ever been before.
I’m not sure what anyone reading may get out of this. Maybe that there is hope for things to get better. Maybe that we take these experiences and educate others. And maybe that never again does anyone go through what so many of us have. I see the numbers of youth homeless identifying as LGBTQ, knowing I could have been part of that number had it not been for my friends, my chosen family that were there when I had no one in my corner. As a reminder, my jaw still clicks, but I’m here to live out another day.
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