Letters from a Lesbian Column
On the day after Thanksgiving, one of my cousins died suddenly. It was a very unusual and unexpected situation. She was only 51.
My father and I have been estranged for over twenty years now. As a result, I have been estranged from my aunt and cousins. The last time I saw this particular cousin, I was a freshman in college.
Many Hispanic LGBTs know estrangement from family members. Our culture and religion are not necessarily the most accepting of us. It is not always easy to find a balance between our identity and our culture. It’s a difficulty, and an unfortunate reality for far too many of us.
Someone said to me that perhaps this was the way for me to reconnect with my aunt and cousins. It’s very hard to explain to a Caucasian heterosexual that that is unlikely. My aunt and her daughters, like so many Hispanics, have their lives built on and around their religion. My identity and orientation clash with their faith. Thus, separation is best for all of us.
It saddens me. All of these years have gone by and my cousin has now died, not knowing that even from a distance, I loved her. None of my father’s family will know. I will not be able to support my aunt as she buries her second born. I cannot embrace my other cousins as they mourn the loss of their sister. Now I will never be able to see her again. Any hope I ever had of seeing her or her family again has been completely erased. In a way, this slammed the door shut in my face. I feel as though this has officially cut me off from my family.
Estrangement is a painful situation. It separates us from people we love. It divides our families. It leaves us with open wounds and unanswered questions. It leaves us feeling empty and unwanted. It cuts us right to our core.
It is a sad and somber holiday season for my family. From a distance, I send them all of my love, support, and prayers. If you are estranged from your family, I will do the same for you.
If you, or someone you know is in need of some assistance, here are some resources that might be able to help you:
National Gay and Lesbian Hotline: 1-888-843-4564
New York State Office of Children and Family Services http://ocfs.ny.gov/main/LGBTQ/resources.asp
Rochester Gay Alliance http://www.gayalliance.org/
Binghamton University’s Pride and Joy Families http://www.binghamton.edu/prideandjoyfamilies/
Volunteers of America Upstate New York http://www.voaupny.org/
Center Link New York LGBT Community Center Directory http://www.lgbtcenters.org/Centers/States/New-York/33/LGBT-Centers.aspx
It Gets Better Project http://www.itgetsbetter.org/
Empire State Pride Agenda http://www.prideagenda.org/
Human Rights Campaign http://www.hrc.org/
I wish you all a safe, beautiful, and blessed holiday season.
Live life in your own special way,
About the author: Lauren Shiro is Puerto Rican; her father was born in Mayagüez. She was born and raised in a suburb just outside of Queens, NY. As a Hispanic, she has been surrounded by a very unique and diverse culture. As a lesbian, Lauren has a unique viewpoint on humanity and the current political climate. As a woman who is both, she feels that she has a perspective that is beneficial to both cultures.
All of her writing work, both fiction and non-fiction, is done with a hope of breaking down barriers (social and racial), defying stereotypes and creating awareness and understanding between all people. Lauren has that same goal here for this column. Her goal is to address topics that are important to the LGBT community as a people. She wants to discuss politics that will affect us, both positively and negatively. She wants to have an open forum where we can share triumphs and support each other in setbacks.