Speaker 1: Growing up, this small of a town was really difficult. I was totally different. I mean, I was more in the feminine side than I was in the masculine side. Our mom would be like, “stop playing with those Barbies before your dad gets home.” My dad would hit me in the shoulder and be like, “don’t act like that.” I’d be like, “what did I do wrong?” I felt like I was being caged somewhere where I couldn’t be free.
Speaker 2: I don’t have conflicts to be gay, you know. I’ve been out since I’m 18.
Speaker 3: By the time I was in college, I was still trying to wrap my head around who I am and what footsteps I needed to fill.
Speaker 4: I was like, in my head, “what an I going to do when I come out? What are they going to say?”
I came out to my mom. I was like, “I need to tell you something.” And she’s like, “no, we don’t need to talk about nothing. We have nothing to talk about.” I was like, “no, yes, we do.” I go, I was like, “I’m gay.” She looked at me and then she hugged me and she said, “I accept you.”
Speaker 2: I came from a big city and it’s more open minded. My mom say, you know, “as long as you’re happy, I’m happy too.”
Speaker 1: I met this transgender friend. She started telling me that she’s always felt like she was a female, a girl, and I’m like, “well, that’s how I feel.” As soon as I put on the beautiful long wig and this beautiful sexy dress, I was like, oh my God, I just felt like, it was like the clouds from heaven open up. It was like, ah-ah-ah-ah. I was like, “oh my God, this is me.”
Slowly I started doing my transformation and I kept it the myself for a while and I kept on taking my hormones. I remember one of my friends at work was like, “are you going to tell your family? Call them, here’s the phone.” I tried a message and I’m like, “mom, it’s me. I’m sorry I haven’t been home to visit but there’s something I have to tell you. I’m no longer a man. Living my life as a woman.”
I didn’t hear from her for 2 to 3 days and then the 3rd day she left me a message. She called me by my old boy name and she’s like, “I got your message. I think it’s not right what you’re doing. I had a baby boy when you were born. I didn’t have a girl. Don’t expect to come near the house dressed as a girl. You’re not allowed to come to my house as a girl.”
I had to give up a big part of my life which was my family to be happy.
Speaker 3: I know within my own experience, my life as a married woman in a heterosexual relationship, it started to breed additional challenges. For example, with alcohol, in my situation. I finally took the time to do a full introspective. Quit drinking. I recognized that I within myself posses the keys to my own happiness. After my divorce I did start to date women and understand the evolution of my identity. I sometimes joke, I say, “I stopped drinking and I stopped sleeping with men.” I’m just really happy now.
Speaker 4: It’s like being in 2 borders. I feel like you’re in 2 borders, 1 is because you’re Latino and 1 is because you’re gay.
Speaker 2: I have my ID from the state of Oregon. I lost it and it was a nightmare. It’s incredible, you know, how necessary it is. It is not possible that you can go to the bank and cash your check. You cannot travel.
On January 8th, one of my aunts passed away and I really loved her. She’s like my mom to me. I was just devastated that I wasn’t available to go to the funeral or anything and I was sad. I said, “what?” You know, open my eyes. So here, I could not find a better job or better pay. I could not afford to buy an apartment. There’s no possibilities. You know, there’s no immigration reform and the only way you can get the documents is getting married with a girl, of course, you know, being gay, gay marriage is illegal. What am I going to do?
Speaker 3: I talked to, now I consider 1 of my best friends, David Martinez, and he goes, “Melanie, I’m going to bring you to the community.” He told me, he goes, “you’re going to meet me during our pride parade. And I would really like it if you walked with me.” That day really met a lot to me. I started to recognize that I can be out and I can live out loud.
Speaker 4: Woodburn, it’s not a big city, it’s rural. There’s not a lot of gay people here. I think the fact that I stayed here in Woodburn and didn’t go off somewhere else, it’s good, you know, because it gave me a little more of growing up as a person. I have never seen Woodburn as a place where I felt uncomfortable.
Speaker 1: We’re Latinos. We’re tough, we’re strong, and we can overcome anything. I feel like a powerful Latina. I feel like Salma Hayek, you know. I take every curve with a lot of pride.
I just want to say to those Latino culture families, it’s like if you really want to see your children happy, let them be who they want to be. Don’t try to force them to be someone they’re not.
Speaker 3: My family support to me has been the keystone to my survival. Without them, I would have crumbled the first time people blew a feather at me to shatter me.
Speaker 2: I have these friends who are really good friends. They have 2 kids. The kids ask her, “mom, why Juan Carlos and his boyfriend, why are they holding hands?” She asked me, “how can I answer that question to a baby?” My answer to my friend is, “it’s the same love. The same love mom and dad has. Juan Carlos and his friend, they love each other because love, it has the same letters. For gay, straight, or whoever.” That’s it.