On Coming Out

Saturday, May 12, 2012

by Erika Vivianna Céspedes


"Coming out"
as Queer
was never
the beginning
or end of it.


Dear Mother,
I felt my body
turn 16 again.

Felt it melt
Back into the crevice
of adolescent

My deepest
flesh wounds
are re-exposed when
I'm around you.

For 7 years,
not counting the rest,
you have chosen
to speak at me.

Give up that
"arte" basura. Watch
your weight, go to school,
get your life together.
Stop wasting time.

You say these things
With a steel spine.
Look me
In the eyes.


I told you
I was a jot@

It must have surprised you
to find out your youngest hija
grew up to be everything
your catholic
verses taught you
to call dirty. Sucia.

At first, you held
yourself quiet.
Silent. Like my

After two heavy breaths
and a long distant glance:
You chose to speak to me
of diseases. Of promiscuity.
Of not bringing shame to the family.

I hope you remember
how I was grinning
right then.

How I laughed,
as I saw the warm salty
sweat of your anger flood
down your forehead.

I can't recall many
moments when I have felt
like my own god,
but that was one of them.

I summoned Gloria Trevi
and the entire cast of "To Wong Foo".
I felt so chismosa.
So chola.
So true to my
gender wandering

You kept talking
Or scolding,
but my body catapulted
up on a chair

"When I grow up
I'm going to be a gay-fag artist!
I'm going to cry in public
and call that
an act of genius.

Everyday, despite you,
I pray for the eyes
of Eve and the
tongue of Anzaldúa.

So I forgive you for not accepting me.
I forgive you for not remembering how amazing I came
out to be.
I am so proud of myself for making it this
far. Ma, todavia te amo,
even though you make me feel ashamed of everything
that makes me feel most alive.
I think that was the sound
of me breaking open.

I felt like
Taunting really:

"Si! Soy Jot@
Si! Si! Soy artista. Ay!
Tengo sueños.

No! soy capitalista! Ay!
No! soy gringa!
Soy! Soy una jot@! Ay!"

Right then, I felt compelled to wrap myself
in a giant Colombian flag and drape
my neck in silver rosaries.

I wanted to stand on a metal chair until
security came running.
Right as they got to me,
I wanted to look you in the eye and say:
“Mama. No tienes miedo.
I'm ready. I am ready to survive.
Soy un gay.
Soy puta.
Soy rockera.
Just let them try
to take

I didn't take much pride
in watching my
63 year old mother
squirm in front of me.

Its hard to ridicule
someone that you admire
and fear so completely.

In reality,

I told her at
the Oakland airport
20 mins before
she had to leave.


"Coming out"
As Xueer
has never been
the beginning
or end
of this.

Erika Vivianna Céspedes is a 24 year old Colombian jot@ artist, organizer, childcare provider, and long-term community college student. She currently mentors high school youth with 67 Sueños and as a poet mentor and Program Associate for the literary arts organization, Youth Speaks. Stories of Queer Diaspora is her first independent curatorial arts project. 

This blog is part of Strong Families Mama’s Day Our Way blog series. Make and send a custom Mama’s Day e-card at www.mamasday.org. Strong Families is a national initiative led by Forward Together. Our goal is to change the way people think, act and talk about families.