i came out to my mother when my grandmother died in 2006. and back then I had a cousin that was gay – – that IS gay – -he has not a stopped being gay. (laughs) he was living around here and my mother would always ask me, “why do you hang out with him so much?” eventually, i got upset when she said “it doesn’t bother you?” and I was like, “mom, would it bother you if i was gay?” and she was like “are you gay?” insaid “yeah.” but i was upset so wasn’t that soft. there was some screaming. then after that, we had that long conversation and the crying.
she’s been to the pride parade here. i bring her and i put out a chair for her and she watches the whole show. ya know, the first thing she said when i brought her here to wilton manor – she said, “i never thought they were old gay people.” she always thought that came and were young and “cute” and then when she saw older gay couples walking and holding hands she was like, “aawwww.” it blew her mind.
i still have to teach her. like with my boyfriend, i had to teach her that he is not just my “special friend,” he is my boyfriend. i need you to call him my boyfriend. i explain to her that i remember when you told me once, “don’t introduce me to every single person. just introduce me to the one.” and i explain to her that this is the one right now. you need to get with it.
he went with me to washington, heights for thanksgiving, in a house with like 50 dominicans. (laughs). i prepared my mom. i was like, “mom, i’m gonna take him. and you’re gonna get questions.” he’s the first person that has ever been to my family gatherings. it’s a big thing for me and my family. that know i’m gay but they never seen me with a partner. it was good until one my aunt’s found out that he didn’t speak spanish. ya know, older generations.
josé javier, he/him/his
wilton manor, florida
interviewed & photographed by: louie a. ortiz-fonseca