My dad taught me to live outside the binaries

Thursday, June 13, 2013

By Luna Olavarria Gallegos

I didn't know I was supposed to like the color pink until I was six years old. I remember being next to the monkey bars when I was told that my favorite color blue meant that I was a boy. I quickly changed my answer to pink, one of two colors I could choose from to prove my gender to the world. I owe my innocence to my parents. Although in elementary school I often blushed by how little I knew of gender binaries, I realize now how my naivety was actually the best resource I had. I learned to find myself despite the grid society had provided for me at birth.

When I was little my dad braided my hair. Every day he would pack me a lunchbox full of rice and beans and on days when I was sick he would stay home with me and cook me caldo gallego. One day, my mom, finally giving into our incessant whining, took my sister and me to the store to pick out Barbie dolls that we had wanted for years. We decided to get the one with the black short hair, her baby, and a black Ken doll who we decided looked exactly like a younger version of our father. The doll even shared my dad’s name, cooked three meals for his daughter, dressed her in the morning, and tucked her in at night.

Years later, when I would tell a family friend about how my dad does the dishes and washes the laundry, she would say, "So your dad is like your mom?" My dad has never been my mom; he has always been my dad. I won the lottery at birth, born into a family where both my parents support me equally, love me equally, and take care of me equally. Because of my dad's influence in my life, I have realized how important it is to be mindful and sensitive. I have learned how twisted it is to live out a set of standards based in a world that runs on binaries. The friendship I have with my dad has always out-weighed his role as a father, and mine as a daughter. It has ignored the gender constructs I was born into and the stigmas I have had to fight.

Luna Olavarria Gallegos is a 17 year-old high school graduate, planning on continuing her education at Ithaca College in the fall. She is a multi-ethnic student of native New Mexican and Afro-Caribbean roots. Luna is a youth media-maker and makes change in her community by creating platforms for others to share their stories. Luna loves to play Latin percussion, piano, and guitar. She also likes exploring new places, and hopes to be able to continue learning and discovering through traveling.

This blog post is part of the Strong Families' first Papa's Day celebration. You can read more posts in the series on the Strong Families blogStrong Families is a national initiative led by Forward Together. Our goal is to change the way people think, act and talk about families.


  1. Nice, thank you Luna! I shared this with my partner Ernest who also cooks & braids our daughter's hair. Your story is inspiring. You'll go far.