I promised I would be more vulnerable and that I would write more this year. Here, in my first published piece of writing, I do both.
“My isolation was not an accident. The constant fragmenting of my humanity into oppressed categories of race, skin color, gender, and sexuality made it almost impossible for me to exist as a whole human. Stereotypes of gay men and antithetical stereotypes of Latino men have made me unintelligible to a world that ignores and silences the struggles of my communities. Internalizing society’s fear and abhorrence towards gayness and Latinidad, I learned how to hate myself. The shame I internalized because of my isolation made it difficult for me to relate to other people. Without models of gay brown men being vulnerable — let alone existing — I was convinced that the only company I would ever really have was the emptiness inside me. I accepted this truth very early on in my life, and for much of my life it defined me.
We’re taught that before we can be in a relationship, we must first learn to love ourselves. But this is a nearly impossible task because for many of us, particularly queer people of color, loving ourselves is a lifelong journey. This journey to self-love is never linear. It can change every day, and some years are better than others. At what point do we become loveable: able to love and able to be loved? Are we loveable more days than others?
I was 19 when I first felt seen by someone. I shared the shame that had been crushing me since I was a boy. The weight of hundreds of hopeless nights immediately lifted as I delved deeper and deeper into my soul and for once, I wasn’t afraid. When I shared the depths of my fears with someone, I finally felt I could be loved and for the first time in my life, I was whole. When we broke up, I thought I would never be complete again. I eventually learned that my loveability came from this raw openness; and like love, my vulnerability could not expire.”