TRADITIONAL AND TOLERANT Even though I grew up in a “traditional” Mexican-American family, I remember everyone being extremely tolerant of others, even the older folks. After all, everyone in my family has experienced discrimination at one point or another. One of my grandparents had a gay sibling and, while we never discussed it openly as a family, nobody EVER said anything negative about that relative or about homosexuals in general. I’m pretty sure if anyone had, there would have been hell to pay! But many of my Latino friends have families who are not necessarily so accepting. In fact, there seems to be a stereotype that we’re not, on the whole, folks who take to things outside of our culture. I’ve heard a lot of people say that it’s just because we’re Latinos, or because of the influence of Catholicism on our culture(s) or because “traditional” families are so important to us. But to be honest, I wonder whether that is really the case. I spoke with Carolina Ramos, Director of Latino Services for The San Diego LGBT Community Center. I asked her if, in her experience, she felt that Latinos have particular difficulty accepting family members who are LGBTQIA. “Mmmmmmm…don’t be so sure,” she said, “Maybe you should come and ask them yourself!” The Center has many programs for Latinos, including a group for parents of LGBTQIA children that meets weekly. I was invited to attend one of their meetings so I could get a better idea of their journey. Some of the parents in the group have kids who are gay or lesbian and many of them have children who are transgendered. Most of the parents I met with have come to accept their children as they are (though some have struggled more than others to do so). They came to The Center to support each other and to educate themselves about how best to support their children. Some of the parents said they always knew their child was gay or different, but they didn’t want to push them to come out before they were ready. Those who had trouble accepting their children at first said it was, for the most part because of religious reasons or because they had never met anyone who was LGBTQIA and were simply ignorant of what it was. When I asked them to name the most challenging aspect about being a parent of an LGBTQIA child, every single one of them said it was the fear that others would be intolerant of their child, that they would be discriminated against by people who don’t understand that LGBTQIA are just people with the same rights as everyone else.