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The experience of being gay in a rural community in Mexico

Guest blog by Edgar Talavera, clinical therapist at the BRC

Ever since I can remember I knew I was gay. I grew up in a small town in the state of Chihuahua Mexico called Colonia Anchondo. My family on my father’s side were Mormons, and my mother’s family were Catholic. While I was growing up as a queer person, I was attending to church every Sunday. My grandparents even used to pick me up to make sure that I wouldn’t miss church. I remember being bullied by all the other teenagers and even by the priest who was giving the mass.

While my classmates were wearing boots, riding horses, and working with tractors, I was in my room listening to Britney Spears. By the time I was 14 years old, I knew that I had to find the way to leave town. At that time, I was already experiencing trauma from the comments people made about my way of dressing or walking. For example, the priest would say that homosexuality was a sin and anyone who had homosexual thoughts would go straight to hell. Imagine what it was like for a gay teenager to hear that! Whenever there were family gatherings like at Christmas or birthdays, I always preferred to not attend, because I knew that I was going to be questioned by my family either about my sexuality or if a had a girlfriend. When that happened, I always ended up arguing with my aunts or uncles, and my dad would get mad at me for defending my rights.

There were times when I regretted being gay so much. I cried alone in my room and asked myself why I was born that way or had those feelings. Family and religion made me feel like I wasn’t worth it. Since I was very young living in a ranch and didn’t know much about life outside, it never occurred to me that there would be support groups for the LGBTQ community. I thought that in the whole world being gay was a sin, and I couldn’t imagine living an open, accepted life as queer person. Sometimes I wanted to die, because of the discrimination and oppression that existed in that little town and within my own family.

When I was about 17, I realized that there were people like me experiencing the same feelings. I saw that some chose to practically flee my little town and others decided to stay and not accept themselves as gay. On the contrary, many of them married women, because Catholicism taught that it was the right thing to do. I wondered if there were good people outside who would support and accept me as I am. I decided that I had to find the way to survive, and as soon as I turned 18, I left.

Though I’ve experienced other challenges since I left and I worry about the people in my home town, I don’t regret my decision to leave. Because of my experience with religion in that little town in Chihuahua, Mexico, it’s still hard for me to believe in god and understand the perspectives of religious people. That said, I know that we cannot always control the ideologies of many people toward the LGBTQ community, but we can control our decisions and create our own families. That hope is what has helped me cope with all the trauma experiences. I hope this story can inspire and help those who are experiencing social discrimination. I encourage you to seek support and know that there are good people who will be there to help and accept you for who you are.

La experiencia de ser gay en una comunidad rural de México

Desde que tengo memoria supe que era gay. Crecí en un pequeño pueblo del estado de Chihuahua México llamado Colonia Anchondo. Mis familias por parte de mi padre eran mormones y mi familia por parte de mi madre eran católicos. Crecí siendo gay asistiendo a la iglesia todos los domingos. Incluso, mis abuelos solían recogerme para asegurarse de que no faltaría a la iglesia. Recuerdo ser intimidado y discriminado por los otros adolescentes y también por el sacerdote que estaba dando la misa.

Recuerdo ver a todos mis compañeros de clase con botas, montando a caballo, trabajando con tractores en el huerto mientras yo estaba en mi habitación escuchando a Britney Spears. Tenía como 14 anos cuando ya sabía que tenía que encontrar la manera de salir de ese pequeño pueblo. En ese momento, ya estaba experimentando un trauma por los comentarios que le gente hacia sobre mi forma de vestir o caminar. Recuerdo que fui a la iglesia y el sacerdote dijo que la homosexualidad era un pecado. El sacerdote decía que cualquiera que tuviera pensamientos homosexuales se iría directamente al infierno. Imagínense lo que es para un adolescente de 14 anos escuchar eso. Siempre que había reuniones con mi familia, ya fuera en Navidad o cumpleaños, siempre prefería no asistir porque sabía que mi familia me iba a interrogar sobre mi sexualidad o si ya tenía una novia. Cuando eso sucedía, siempre terminaba discutiendo con mis tías o tíos. Mi padre se enojaba conmigo por defender mis derechos en frente de familia.

Hubo momentos en los que me arrepentí tanto de ser gay que lloraba solo en mi habitación y me preguntaba por qué había nacido así o porque tenía esos sentimientos hacia personas del mismo sexo. La familia y la religión me hicieron sentir que no valía la pena como persona. Como era muy joven viviendo en un rancho y sin saber mucho sobre la vida afuera, nunca se me ocurrió que habría grupos de apoyo para la comunidad LGBTQ. Pensé que en todo el mundo ser gay era un pecado. Hubo un tiempo en que quise morir por la discriminación y la opresión que existía en ese pequeño pueblo y dentro de mi propia familia.

Más adelante en la vida, cuando tenía unos 17 anos, me di cuenta que había más personas como yo experimentando la misma situación. Me di cuenta de que algunas personas como yo, tenían que huir prácticamente de ese pueblo, y también muchos jóvenes decidieron quedarse y no aceptarse como parte de la comunidad LGBTQ. Estos jóvenes que no se aceptaron, muchos de ellos se casaron con mujeres porque según la religión católica eso era lo correcto. Debido a mi experiencia con la religión, ahora en el presente me resulta difícil creer en un Dios. Aprendí que tenía que encontrar la manera de sobrevivir. Tuve que salir de allí tan pronto en cuanto cumplí 18 anos y obtuve mi identificación, lo cual fue lo que hice. Antes de darme por vencido, pensé que tal vez había gente buena afuera que me apoyara y me aceptara como soy. Tener esperanza es lo que me ayudo a sobrellevar todas las experiencias traumáticas de mi adolescencia. Espero que con esta historia pueda inspirar y ayudar a todas aquellas personas que están sufriendo de discriminación social por ser diferente y animarlas a buscar apoyo y creer que hay buenas personas que estarán ahí para ayudar y aceptar por quienes realmente son. No siempre podemos controlar las ideologías de muchas personas hacia la comunidad LGBTQ, pero podemos controlar nuestras decisiones y buscar nuestra propia familia.

Edgar Talavera, MSW, is a queer immigrant, a cancer survivor-amputee, and a Clinical Social Worker. He likes listening to music, riding bicycles, and hiking. Edgar loves giving individual therapy and advocating for people dealing with depression and anxiety.

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A gay life is so difficult in the rural community. I saw it in my surroundings and it hurts so much.

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 I decided that I had to find the way to survive, and as soon as I turned 18, I left


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