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Baby Love
Being QV and also a father was not easy for Gabe, but he finally learned that the best path was to be himself!

By Gabriel Medina

gabriel medinaI remember the day I first met her. Her eyes were the color of a rich velvet chocolate; her hair was as black as a dark New Mexico night; her eye lashes were as long as the Rio Grande; and her face could melt your heart quicker than the heat of a thousand volcanoes. I first laid eyes on my beautiful daughter on a warm September afternoon in 1996. I can't tell you the joy I felt in my heart as tears of love, anticipation, and uncertainty fell from my eyes. Me, a father! I could hardly conceive the idea, yet there she was-a perfect little person sent to me from the hand of God, blessed and nurtured by La Virgen for nine months in her mother's womb, and needing me to be there for her for the rest of her life.

At the time, I was only 19 years old and had not fully experienced life. I had been in college for just one semester where I was part of MEChA (a Chicano organization) on campus. I was a hard Chicano with a lot of friends and a lot of pride in my gente. But now, with the birth of my daughter, I had just become a father, and so I was pushed into a new life-a family life. Per my father, who insisted that I do the "honorable thing," I got down on one knee and placed an engagement ring on my girlfriend's finger at her high school graduation party.

But while all this was going on around me, on the inside I was scared because I was QV and just beginning to realize it. I began to ask myself, "How can I be the family man I am expected to be knowing that I am QV?" So I decided to push that part of me-my QVness-deep inside so that I could face up to my responsibilities. My fiancée and I moved into a townhouse together where, between the brand new furniture, dishes, and appliances, I became lost in a world that was unreal. And though I could not run from who I really was, I sure did try.

Months went by and my daughter became more beautiful by the day. Everyone said she looked just like me. She had her daddy's eyes and light complexion. She had her mother's black hair and charm. I melted every time she reached up at me with her tiny delicate hands and tried to grab my face as she laughed and squealed with excitement. I watched in awe as she grew. I would stare into her eyes and wonder who and what she would grow up to be. It seemed to me as if she would grow up to be nothing short of an Aztec princess.

As months passed, I became unhappy with the way I was living. My baby provided my only sanctuary. My fiancée and I were fighting all the time and we rarely made "love." Perhaps because of our young ages, we found it difficult to be almost married. She was inexperienced as a wife and while staying home with the baby, she could not keep up with the house work and cooking. In addition, she was going through postpartum depression and neither of us knew it was there or how to deal with it.

Life seemed to be unfair. I wanted to be there for my baby, but I was unable to resist the desires I had tucked away in the deepest corners of my soul. Sometimes, I would quietly slip out of bed, being careful not to wake my sleeping fiancée, and go to my baby's crib and cry. My tears would fall on her soft pink pajamas as I stared at her angel face. I wondered why God sent me this child, knowing that I was QV and could not live the lifestyle she needed. I prayed for God to make me "normal" so that I might be a good father for my precious daughter. Still, every morning when I woke up, I was the same QV Chicano that had gone to bed the night before.

I finally gave in to my desires and started sneaking behind my fiancée's back, fulfilling my fantasies of finding love with another hombre. I began living in two separate worlds. I was a good father-I always made time to be with my baby between work and school-but my fiancée and I were growing apart. She knew I was seeing someone else but did not know who. She thought it was a girl in one of my classes, but she never really had a clue.

I met someone who completely changed my life-a nice African-American man who I had met on the down-low over the phone and decided to meet on campus since we went to the same school. When I first went to meet him, I saw him waiting for me from afar. He was a tall, well-dressed man-muy guapo también. The first night we hit it off. We were both looking for someone, and it seemed as though we had found exactly that. He was captivated by my eyes and I by his smooth chocolate complexion complementing a handsome strong face and dazzling white teeth. We began seeing each other after class before I headed home to my familia. I eventually introduced him to the people in my life as my "homeboy" whom I'd met in my History class and everyone bought it, including my fiancée. He helped me deal with what I was going through, and I helped him also as he was not out of the closet, either. As our relationship became more serious, for the first time in my life, I saw a way out-a light at the end of the tunnel. I found someone who helped ease my pain and who made me feel loved. But at the same time, my fiancée and I were still together so I would always have to say goodbye to my morenito and go home with his sweetness still on my lips and the scent of his Tommy Hilfiger cologne still lingering in my car.

Eventually, my relationship with my fiancée broke down, and she fell out of love with me. It was a relief when we finally broke up, and she moved out after a year of living together. But I knew it was for the best-she deserved someone who could give her the love I was not able to. Of course, now there was the question of the baby, who was only about eight months old. My family condemned our breakup and saw me as a quitter and unconcerned for my baby's well-being. I felt selfish and ashamed. I knew that if I really wanted to make this work I could have, but I was QV and could not go on pretending any longer. My ex-fiancée and I both questioned if what we were doing was right. I began to pray to the Virgen for guidance, inspiration, and to watch over my baby. La Virgen had never let me down before, and I had even named my child after her appearance in Mexico, Guadalupe.

Once my fiancée moved out, my morenito moved in with me into the empty townhouse. The "ex" had taken all the furniture and so the house was like a blank canvas for us to start our life together as a familia, even though everyone else thought he and I were just "roommates." At first we had some cultural differences to work through since his family was a traditional black family from Tennessee and mine was a traditional Chicano family from northern New Mexico, but eventually, we realized that our differences only made our lives and my daughter's life more rich in culture and tradition.

My baby grew to love my boyfriend, who was like a second father to her as he helped me with diaper changing, baths, and even potty training. She went everywhere with us, and I was happy to have the two people I loved the most in my life at my side. We were a familia.

On November 7, my life took a new turn: my baby's mother figured out I was a homosexual after someone she knew spotted me and my boyfriend at a QV club. She confronted me, and I admitted to her that I was. She broke down, and we both cried. Then, we talked for hours. I told her I had always kept my sexuality quiet for fear of losing my daughter-especially from an ignorant judge who might accuse me of being an unfit parent. Thankfully, my worst fear in the world did not come true-my "ex" was okay with my sexuality, and she told me that she would never try to take my baby away. She was open minded enough to understand and accept me.

When she left that night, I broke down in front of my altar dedicated to the Virgen de Guadalupe and gave thanks. I cried tears of joy that, finally, at 21 years old, I was open to the world. I didn't have to tell any more lies, and I didn't have to feel shame. And the best part of all was that my light and my air-my baby-was not in any threat of being taken away from me. God finally answered the prayers that I had said all those nights before when I used to cry over my daughter's crib. He gave me the strength to be a good father and to teach my daughter what she needs to know in life. I now know that I can be a father without having to compromise who I am. I know that I can be there for my baby and raise her to be a happy, healthy person who is proud of herself, proud of her gente, and proud of her QV Chicano father, who loves her more than she will ever know.

 


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