Features | February/March 1998


Todo un Hombre

A self-realization that a lover's love isn't the only love you need.

By Carlos Manuel

I lived with my boyfriend for three years. We shared the same place, ate the same foods, wore each others clothes, and spent muchas reuniones familiares. For those three years, as happy as we seemed to be, we never told our families that we were lovers. La familia always knew we were "los mejores amigos" and since we both knew each other desde niños, no le importaba a nadie.

We had it easy. Las fiestas at my house or at his house were always fun. There were plenty of girl cousins to dance with, as well as to chat. Las primas always invited their girlfriends to our fiestas; they always wanted to meet me or my boyfriend. We were good at pretending. "Ay, mijos!" my abuelita used to say, "son tan jovenes, tan guapos y varoniles los dos. No tendrán problema en encontrar una novia." My boyfriend and I would look at each other and smile. Our secret love life went on and no one questioned it; no one cared-and if someone knew, no one dared to ask.

The secret love life between my boyfriend and I was left behind a year ago when we broke up. The reason is not as important, but the experience of breaking up was one of the hardest and most painful ones I have ever felt. For some reason, he developed an indifference towards me which soon turned into silence and then into loneliness. We hardly went out and when we did, we hardly enjoyed our time together. Soon I stopped going out altogether and that gave him the opportunity to do what he desired. When he finally told me he wanted out, I accepted with resignation y mucho dolor. When I learned he had been seeing someone else long before we broke up, I felt the whole world collapsing over me. When the time came for the two of us to move out, we fought over who would take what and why. There was a lot of anger, hate, pain, and love all mixed together in our lives. Things did not make much sense at the time. I had been dumped by my lover, and I was now moving away to my mamá's house. She noticed I was crying most of the time, that I had no appetite and that even her frijoles fritos y chilaquiles were not enough to motivate me to get out of bed. She knew something was not right. Mi mamá tried to cheer me up all the time. She used to tell me I could always go and visit my "best friend." She thought he and I had moved apart because he was given a great job in another city-that's what I told la familia. But the reality was a different one. My ex was not in a different city, just in a different neighborhood-with a different boyfriend.

For the first six months or so, I lost a lot of weight. I also lost interest in life. The QV friends that knew about our break up came to visit me. They tried to cheer me up and take me out, but I simply sunk myself into my own pitiful life. I was living my own novela Mexicana. Mi mamá y mi hermano menor tried to understand my sudden change. My abuelita kept asking why my friend wasn't coming to visit y "Por qué no llama por teléfono al menos?" They all tried to help me, but no one could really do anything about it because no one knew the truth about our relationship. I started to think my life was totally meaningless, and it hurt me to see mi mamá reaching out to me with no success.

One Saturday morning, I decided to end it all. I decided to kill the pain and end the suffering. Looking back, I would never do it again, but I opted for the most stupid act a coward person could act upon-suicide. I took un cuchillo muy filoso and locked myself in the bathroom. I wanted out of my life, and just when I was about to cut my vein, mi mamá called out, "Carlos! Mijo. ¿Donde estás? Te necesito para sacar un mueble. No lo puedo hacer sola." She was yelling from somewhere in the house. It was mama's words, "I cannot do it alone" that stuck in my head; her words stopped me and hit me like a rock. Suddenly, I felt a change-there was no pain inside me, no grief-just a sense of hope and revelation that my ex was not the only one I loved. Tenía amigos y una gran familia. My life was worth living. So I hid the knife under the sink, and ran to mamá. I helped her move the mueble, and sat her down. "Mamá," I started to say, "tengo un problema, necesito tu ayuda y no lo puedo hacer solo."

That Saturday morning, I came out to mi mamá and told her about me and my ex. For a few minutes, she cried then she told me she already knew. When I asked her how, she simply answered, "las mamás siempre sabemos." When I asked her how come she didn't say anything, she said that I needed to accept it in my heart first, and that it was something she could not help me with at all. I remembered we both cried as we held each other. Then she said to me the most important, most valuable, and most cherished words a mother can say to a child: "Carlos, mijo. Te haz convertido en todo un hombre."

All those years, I was ashamed of my sexuality and afraid to be out, and all those years, mi mamá knew and waited for me to come out. ¡Qué ironía! I was always afraid to lose mi familia if I told them I was QV, while she was waiting for me to come out in order for me to become a grown man. Lo que es la vida.

Today, I happily live a single life and I'm out to everyone around me (including abuelita). My ex has become a friend but he's still in the closet and doesn't dare to visit la familia because I told him I came out. He assumes I outed him too but I didn't-only mi mamá knows. The rest of la familia still thinks he moved away because of this great job.

Once in a while, I reflect on the life I led while I was in the closet and how different it is from my life as an open Latino man. There is so much one loses when he's in the closet. Once in a while, I reflect on my break up and the way I reacted to it. The more I think about it, the more I realize that I was not living my own novela just because someone I loved very much left me. He had something to do with it, but the real reason I felt lost and lonely was because mi mamá and my friends were reaching out, and I was not allowing them in. Today, I give thanks to mi gran Dios for having mi mamá there for me, even when I didn't know it. También le doy gracias a mi mamá for without her words, yo no sería felíz y "todo un hombre."


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