All in the Family
Being attracted to men was a challenge for Pedro Martinez, but now he has the support from an understanding ex-wife, caring siblings, a devoted boyfriend, and even his two beautiful children.

by Luther Orrick-Guzman

pedro martinezOut of all the different variations of Latinos, there are those men who have found themselves with one of the most beautiful gifts in life-and one of the biggest responsibilities that one can possibly have: being a parent. Just as Pedro Martinez, the father of two children: Vanessa, 9, and Xavier, 7.

Pedro's story begins in Las Canoas, Michoacan, Mexico where he was born the middle child in a family of 13 kids. He came to the United States at the age of 12 where he went to school and has since remained.

While Pedro was in high school, he met his sweetheart, a girl named Josie Hernandez. The two of them instantly hit it off and did the usual teenage high school "going steady" thing.

"He was a gentleman," Josie says reminiscing about her and Pedro's first dating experiences. "He never tried anything. We met when we were both 14, but we never held hands until we were 16. He asked me many times to be his girlfriend, but I told him that I couldn't be his official girlfriend because my parents wouldn't allow it. It was kind of cute. We were really innocent, and I think that's why we still have such a special bond."

"When we first started getting to know each other, several people told me that he was QV," Josie continues. "But it didn't matter to me-I told him that. Once, I approached him and asked him if he was, but he became very upset and didn't talk to me for about a month. He was so mad that I even dared to question him on it. I think because he was raised in a typical macho family, you can't say those kind of things to a guy. After that, I concluded that he wasn't QV..."

A few years went by and Josie graduated from high school. She headed off to Chico State University while Pedro finished up his last two years in high school. Afterwards, Pedro graduated and went to Sacramento State University. Throughout this time, they remained together, even though it was a long distance relationship, but their special bond kept them close and in touch. Eventually, they married in 1989.

Josie and Pedro's marriage was smooth sailing. They even had two children, Vanessa and Xavier. But things began to change for Pedro. He began to recognize something about himself that, up until that point, he hadn't really thought too much about. He began to realize his attraction towards other men.

The whole time he was with Josie, Pedro never had a clue that he might be QV, bisexual, or whatever you want to call it. "I was totally and completely in love with Josie," Pedro says. "I honestly didn't even think to look at guys, and if I did, I didn't think much of it."

But as his marriage progressed, Pedro's attraction towards other men grew stronger, and he began to struggle more and more with his sexual identity. "I became depressed," Pedro says. "I was a mess. I lost a lot of weight because of the stress. I felt awful about the whole situation."

xavier, josie & vanessa

Josie began to notice changes in Pedro's behavior around the time she was pregnant with their son. In looking back, she says, "I guess that's when he was coming out." It wasn't until she was glancing through the phone bill one time, that she began to seriously suspect Pedro might be attracted to men: "I remember receiving a phone bill of about $300-$400. It was missing a page, so I called the phone company and asked the operator to tell me what was on the page. I found out that he was calling 900 numbers, some of the numbers were for talking to other men."

At the time of these calls, Pedro was searching for support and needed a way to understand what he was feeling inside.

As time went by, Pedro's struggle to understand his sexual orientation, coupled with work and financial pressures, began to pull apart his relationship with Josie. As the stress level continued to increase, they mutually decided that it was in their best interest to separate.

"I was very upset with him," Josie said about the separation. "I still wanted us to be a family again-mainly because in my family, there had never been a divorce or a separation. I didn't tell anyone in my family that we were separated, except for my brothers who had no problem with it."

The truth about Pedro.
Several months after they separated, Pedro found the courage in himself to tell Josie about the struggle he was experiencing. Josie says, "Finally, one day he told me that he didn't know if he was QV or not." It was a very emotional and difficult conversation, but Josie somehow understood and sympathized with Pedro's struggle. She wanted to give him the space he needed and to see him happy.

After this conversation, and now with the support from Josie, Pedro started to feel more at ease with his sexual orientation. This included his first exploration into the "QV scene." Pedro explains, "It wasn't until I split up with Josie, that I started going to QV clubs."

It was during this time that he met a guy named Carlos Rubio, now a father of a 7-year old girl, and they became good friends. It was with Carlos that Pedro had his first same-sex encounter, albeit a small encounter.
Carlos explains, "We kind of messed around...one thing led to another and we did basically what two 6 year olds would do..." Carlos, furthermore, adds, "I didn't handle it well, but Pedro seemed to do okay with it. But we didn't do much-if anything." Pedro and Carlos wrote the experience off and were too embarrassed to even face each other for a while afterwards.

Pedro finally understands his sexuality.
After years of examining his complex sexuality, Pedro has finally been able to fully grasp an understanding of it. "I still like women, but you can't compare one to the other. A woman, to me, is so different from a man, and you can't say that one is better than the other-I don't prefer one over the other. When I started seeing other people, I was looking for a person, someone who had the components that were necessary to make me happy."

rudy & pedroToday, Pedro is involved in a monogamous relationship with a man named Rudy. The couple met during a trip Pedro had taken to Los Angeles with a friend. It was on this trip that Pedro says, "I met Rudy, and fell in love with him. We met at Arena (a Hollywood Latino nightclub). Normally, when I go out, I just close my eyes and dance, but that night, I happened to have my eyes open. I saw Rudy, and he saw me. He stood out like a glowing star. To me, he had the most beautiful smile. He was kind of shy-a little-but by the end of the night, we exchanged numbers."

After they met, there were some challenges. Pedro explains that at first, "Rudy wouldn't give me the time of day, and I was used to getting attention from whomever I wanted! But I was so persistent that he noticed I was really trying. I got to know him and the more that I knew him, the more I was interested."

Rudy admits he was a little hesitant about starting a relationship with Pedro. Rudy says, "He persisted for a couple months, but I didn't take him seriously because he lived way up in Sacramento. But he came down on 4th of July weekend, and he swept me off my feet. I found that he was a really great person, and we had a great weekend."

Rudy met Josie a month after he started dating Pedro. "I had heard great things about her and one weekend while I was visiting him in Sacramento, she came to pick up her kids," Rudy says. "She was very flattering. She thought I was cute, and she said she felt she could be close to me. A month later, she came down to LA so I took her out to Arena, and we had a really good time. All I got from her was support."

Josie did see and still sees a lot of good in Rudy. "I really like him a lot," Josie says. "I don't know if it's true about intuition, but I just feel that Rudy really likes Pedro for who he is."

Rudy and Josie have become really good friends now. Rudy explains, "Ideally, I was really hoping she and I, as well as her kids, would click. I went up to meet the kids a couple weeks later. The little boy, Xavier, was receptive to me at first, but Vanessa was a little more guarded, or cautious. I felt she didn't want us (Pedro and me) to go anywhere by ourselves, or that she had a little wall there. But as I started visiting more often, she let that wall down. I would take care of them, take them swimming, and stuff like that. I would ask them questions about how they felt about me being with their dad, and they would say they were okay with it, but they wouldn't want their mommy to have a boyfriend."

Two of Pedro's brothers, Alex and Onel, know of Pedro's sexual orientation. In fact, they were the first two people Pedro came out to after his separation from his wife. In order to save himself from a long, complicated explanation, Pedro says that he didn't even say he was bisexual. "I just said I was QV and that's the way it was. Later on, I caught them speaking in favor of QV people, and I was like, 'Wow!'"

About Pedro's brothers, Rudy says, "I'm happy that I've been so well-received by Pedro's sisters and brothers." Rudy adds, "I've had some really cool conversations with his brothers. For example, we had an open discussion about my relationship with Pedro and about homosexuality in general. I thought it was really cool because they're straight and they really wanted to educate themselves about the whole (QV) situation."

Pedro's sister, Eladia, thinks very highly of her QV hermano. She believes that having a QV brother has made them closer. Eladia says, "I never had anyone before to talk to about my personal problems. With Pedro, now I can kind of get two perspectives at the same time-one from a guy's point of view, and the other from like a sister's point of view."

"In regards to QV people having kids, I think it's a positive thing," Eladia continues. "I come from a very 'Catholic' family. I think that by Pedro allowing his kids to know about him promotes them to be more open-minded. I think it was the best thing that Pedro was open to his kids about himself. If I have a kid down the road, and he/she happens to be QV, I won't be bothered because QV people are the nicest people there are. And if my child were to be QV or lesbian, I'd like it because they'd be so open-minded."

Raising Kids!
Today, Pedro has wonderful and loving relationships with all the people in his life: his wife (who he now lovingly calls his best friend), his boyfriend, his brothers and sisters, his friends, and especially his children.

He calls his son "Mi Campeon" (My Champion). "If you knew him, you would know what I'm talking about," comments Pedro. "He's such a character. He plays on a soccer team, and out of all the games he has played, he hasn't lost a single one!"

As for Vanessa, Pedro calls her "Mi Princesa." "She's been a straight-A student ever since I can remember. She's really bright-she must have taken after her mother because I was a C average student."

Vanessa and Xavier know all about their daddy and how he goes out with "boys." Talking with his kids about it is one thing that Pedro firmly believes is important.

"I think it's important that we teach our children the reality of what's taking place in this world," Pedro explains. "I want them to grow up having the facts, and not being embarrassed of us (QVs), because it's not anything anyone should be embarrassed about. I've taught them that being QV or straight really isn't important when you think about the true values of a person."

Pedro's friend Carlos (also a father, as mentioned earlier) agrees. "We're heading into the year 2000. If you're not going to have an open mind about QV marriages and QV families, then you're going to be pretty much pushed to the side. People are coming out, and they're coming out on rollerblades! Young kids nowadays don't get scared at seeing two men or two women holding hands or knowing that they're a couple. If you're going to stick to the mentality of a male and female with kids, you're in for a surprise!"

Pedro's kids certainly don't think twice about seeing their dad go out with another guy. In fact, they're very cool about it.

"About my dad going out with boys, I don't really care," says Vanessa. "I know Rudy and he's fine-he's really nice. I call him StepRudy. We have fun! We go swimming, we play games, we cook together sometimes, eggs, bacon, sausage-my favorite food is eggs."

Xavier agrees with his sister. "I know that my daddy sees Rudy. He's nice, I call him StepRudy. We swim together, we play in the house and the apartment, we watch movies."

About his father, Xavier adds, "My favorite thing about my dad is that he loves me."
Pedro understands very well that his son loves him and is proud of him. "My son says he wants to be exactly like me when he grows up-except he doesn't want to date boys," says Pedro. "But he wants my moustache and to look exactly like me!"

Rudy, Pedro's boyfriend, is very respectful of his role with Pedro's children. "I kind of let Pedro coach it as far as what kind of role he wants me to have in his kids' lives. The kids call me StepRudy, which I find very flattering. I think it is very cute because it's like they've already adopted me as their extra dad. I want to give them as much support and education as I can in regards to them knowing about our relationship. If things work out between us in the future, it will be like the Brady Bunch!"

Not only does Pedro want to teach his kids about the positive aspects of QVs, but he also wants them to be well-rounded socially and culturally.

"Both of my kids speak both English and Spanish. I want to be able to pass on all the positive things I know about my culture. I want to teach them that both men and women are equal, children as well as elders."
"I think that the best quality to teach out of Latino culture is respect," Pedro continues. "There are lots of misinterpretations of respect. Many people think fear is respect, but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about respect for everybody. The first thing I saw when I came to this country was kids talking back to their parents. I have a problem with that. Another positive aspect I want to pass on from our Latino culture is faith."

The Future
From what Pedro says, it looks as if he is truly in love with Rudy. "If I'm going to spend the rest of my life with a guy, I want it to be him. He's teaching me so much, he's so patient, and we have great communication. Whenever we have a problem, we're both willing to talk it out and resolve it. I probably won't ever find another person like that."

Pedro has even brought up the topic of marriage with Rudy. "He's presented that to me," Rudy says. "We've discussed it and at the rate things are going, I would love to. It's not something I've ever considered in the the past or have been presented with, but I would love to do it. I have no problem committing to someone in that degree."
For Pedro's kids, they have the same dreams that most kids their age do. Xavier says that, "When I grow up, I want to be a soldier, then a policeman, then I want to be a firefighter."

Vanessa has the medical profession on her mind for the future: "When I grow up, I want to be a cosmetic surgeon. My mom wants me to take out her wrinkles."

For Josie, her ultimately her wish is for Pedro to be happy: "I want the best for him because I still love him. I love him a lot," she says. Though she has custody of the kids, she's happy that her children get to spend a lot of time with their father. "I see him do a lot of positive things (for the children) that a typical Mexican father wouldn't do. He'll put fake nails on my daughter and paint them. And he does all these things that are really sweet like pick flowers-stuff that I wouldn't see my father do in a million years. Things like that, to me, are so valuable."

About her father, Vanessa says, "My dad is really nice and takes us swimming in the summer. He does my nails, helps me with school."

Xavier adds, "If my dad starts living with a man, I'll feel fine. He's my dad! I'll love him, anyway," he says.

And how would Pedro feel if any of his kids turned out to be QV? "If any of my kids turned out to be QV, they would be to be lucky because not only would they have a daddy that would give them support, but a daddy who would understand."

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