Carlos, in his own words: “No one can beat you at being you -Joel Osteen
Being gay means everything to me. Growing up as a kid, I always knew. Was it tough? Of course it was. It is for a lot of us. I was going to Catholic School and hearing what the bible was preaching, it sure didn’t help. But I somehow did not care, I loved myself too much and just knew I was different and special . Besides, I was too young and innocent and had no control over it.
Growing up at home I definitely had to keep it a secret. My dad had 11 brothers and no sisters. Very old fashion Mexican upbringing and not a single known gay relative. So yeah it was tough. I remembering answering the phone at 12 years old and the neighbor who was calling told me I needed to man up my voice because I sounded like my sister. As hard as I tried to be straight, and please everyone else, I just always knew better. Turned out my neighbor is gay also. He hasn’t spoken to his dad in over 3 years. That’s tough. His dad was my role model growing up too. Funny how life works.
Throughout my years in Jr High and High School I too was bullying alongside my friends sometimes, just to “fit in”. You know I grew up in the city of Cerritos which is just 25 min away from LA. The friends I had and the life I was living was just not the environment to come out in. Once I moved to Hollywood with my older brother who was already living there, I was just shocked. Gays everywhere. Even West Hollywood was up the street, but it was almost too much all at once. I mean sure it made me feel at home and made it more easier to explore. But there were still challenges. When I finally did come out to my parents, it really did feel better like they say. No it wasn’t easy and yes it took a while for them to come around. Just like it took me a while to be comfortable with it. I mean I wanted to marry and have a wife and kids of my own also you know, and letting go of that reality was not easy either. Something people don’t talk about.
18 years later I am in a much better place. It’s true, “It does get better”. Sure I made some mistakes along the way but I’ve never been happier. I have an amazing partner of 6 years. Five of those years we spent taking care of his 87 year old grandmother who had Alzheimer’s up until her last breath in our arms at almost 92 years old. Once people saw what a difference we made in her life and how she changed our lives, it just didn’t matter anymore to me what people were thinking. Early on in my relationship my lil brother got married and I was able to bring my partner and introduce him to all of my family. Without really realizing it, I used my brothers wedding as my way of coming out to the rest of my family. They welcomed him and it just made it all easier. We then attended a church (Unity Fellowship Church, Los Angeles) that was founded by a gay Bishop by the name of Archbishop Carl Bean. He and his church played a huge part in keeping me in track with not only my life, but with the Love of Life itself. I then have the opportunity to meet an amazing gay couple in NY. J. Frederic “Fritz” Lohman and Charles W. Leslie, the founders of the Leslie Lohman Museum in NY which recognizes gay artists from all around the world. Here’s a couple who has been together for 47 years! Gay Love is possible and they were proof. Learning the history and amazing stories of Charles and Fritz only made me happier and prouder to be gay. We are a pretty amazing group of people and I wouldn’t change it for anything.
Go ahead and come out wherever you are. It does get better and it really is OK.”
Ivan, in his own words: ” Being gay has afforded me the opportunity to alongside my partner Carlos Cisneros be there caring for and living with my grandmother for the last five years of her life (from 87 years old to 91 years young).
” I am glad that God made you guys the way he did , because otherwise you would have a wife and kids and would not have all this time for me” mama Lenor Santoni. That those years with grandma allowed us without trying to show my family , friends and anyone who happened to be watching : a Latino gay couple happily taking care of a senior citizen.
Being Gay has allowed me to to have a best friend and passionate relationship with one person.
In 1994 two of my best friends were moving back home to NY, they are still a couple Moe Bertran and David Pumo. I went to their going away party four days before ( brought gift and all). The next day I woke up called Moe and asked if I could move with them to NY?”@#%#@% Wow! Let me call David and ask him !”. About ten minutes later Moe calls me and says ” David said yes but you have to COME OUT to your mom before we go because he won’t live with someone who is in the closet”. I drove to my mom’s house and told her that I was moving to NY and pretty much in the same breath I said and I’m gay ” she was crying but when she spoke she said ” I am not crying because you are gay I am crying because you are moving to NY”