Cross posted from Mom&Me
My name is Melissa Perez… I’m Catholic. I’m Latina. And I’m a lesbian. It was 4:30AM, 2012, just before Valentines Day. Sleep was as unattainable as the romantic love I yearned for that year. A looming misery kept me from breathing normally and I knew there was only one person who could help me feel okay. My mother.
In the dim stairway of my complex, I called her. No answer. I left a frantic message. My eyes filled with tears. I felt hopeless. I called again. No answer. What could I do?
Within seconds my brother Alex, a diagnosed schizophrenic, called me back. “What’s wrong?” he interrogated.
“I need to talk to Mom,” I cried, hoping that he would understand me through my sobs. “Okay I’ll wake her up.” Moments later he screamed obscenities into the darkness of his room. My mom picked up begging to know what was wrong. “Mama, I’m just really sad. I drank too much and I’m not sure if the alcohol made the chemicals in my brain unbalanced but I feel like I’m dead or dying. I called because I feel like you’re the only one who could help me.”
Possessed by Akheron, the river god of pain, I told her the truth. “Momma, I feel like I could never love a man— ever. I feel like I can’t tell you anything because of it. I don’t want you to judge me or hate me.”
She responded calmly, “Only God can judge you, I would never judge you.” She wasn’t shocked. She didn’t cry. Like a mathematician, she calculated that with prayer and counseling I would no longer feel that way. “I love you and I’ll pray for you. Let’s look at life from the lovely side.” She felt worse to know that I was suffering with this for a long time than with the fact that it was true. Her faith so devout, she was confident that I would change.
Coming out for me was more like a spontaneous action with no thought involved. I was so uncontrollably ready. I knew if I went on one more day without saying it, I would go insane. On Sunday mornings I prayed, and at night I exhausted empty encounters with potential lovers in the dark. The futile kisses with strange boys and adventures with women brought feelings of self-loathing. After many wild drunken nights, I realized this: It’s okay to be young, it’s okay to be a wild kid. It’s NOT okay to be someone you are not. It is conflicting. My impulsive actions were solely to fill a void, an emptiness built from hating myself.
The next day I called my mom to see how she was and she said one thing that I remember, “Not being able to communicate with your parents is like being an orphan. I don’t want that. You have to tell me everything that’s bothering you.” Through the misfortune of clashing identities, since that day I’ve never felt more like an orphan.
An orphan is much like a displaced transient always looking for home. For me, home is sacred. It’s a place of comfort, a place to be yourself, a place to display your flaws without feeling judged.
Gradually, silence replaced my euphoria. How do you learn to love yourself when the person you love the most says everything you feel and do is wrong? I could feel my mother’s core tremble the day she decided to ask if I’ve healed. Asking if I’ve stopped hanging out with those girls or those disgusting people. But Mom, I’m those disgusting people. I’m that girl you don’t want me hanging out with. I’m that girl who corrupted your daughter. It’s me. Mom? Mom, are you listening? It’s me. Mom? Mommy? What about your boyfriend? He was a nice guy. He was Christian and he loved you. What happened after that? Someone did this to you. Someone taught you this. Mom, no one taught me this. This is who I am. Mija, pray. Let’s pray. What about loving God? Don’t you love God? You know if you want to go to heaven you have to change. Maybe that’s my story, maybe at the end I burn in hell, Mom. Maybe I wrote that story when I was with God before I came to earth. Do you think God would make that my destiny Mom? My mom’s desperation exploded, I know that you aren’t like that because I saw you grow up. I think something happened to you. You weren’t like this before. Remember? (Laughter and a smile) Remember you wanted to marry Mickey Mouse when you were five years old? Remember that? (Her voice chilled) It wasn’t Minnie Mouse you know. You said Mickey. You were five. Remember that? Yes, Mom. I was five. Hija, don’t tell anyone, okay? You have a reputation. No one should know about this. …Okay, Mom, I’ll keep it to myself.
I feel sorry for her. I feel bad that she believes this. She believes it wholeheartedly. I told my girlfriend that I’m going to put up my white flag, surrender, and tell my mom that I’m straight. It’s a joke. I’m laughing, but the truth is I have friends who have done this. They went back into the closet because their parents’ treatment of them was unbearable. It’s like there is a death in the family but no one knows to seek grievance counseling.
My mom is not a bad person. She’s far from it. She’s just a devout Catholic whose identity is as immutable as my own. She suffers too. All parents do.
In all bouts of pain I have learned valuable lessons. One of the most valuable was the knowledge that pain is inevitable while suffering is optional. I have realized what options we have as two people with very different beliefs. I think we choose to end the suffering when we choose to accept each other. I accept her for who she is and she accepts me for who I am. I think every day I get closer to understanding this.
If I had one last breathe left in me to say something to the world, I’d say: “Learn to love yourself and share that love with others.” If it’s a perpetual war to find that love, keep on fighting because no one is more deserving of your love than you. I will share my story the only way I know how. I will make a film, based on these feelings and thoughts. Along the way, I will share it with you, the rest of the world and finally, my mom.
Powerful, saddening, infuriating. Virginia’s story captures the worst aspect of our failure to curb this atrocity and to address immigration reform. Please help Virginia and Chelo in spreading this video – and sharing it with your friends and family. You can also send a message to Virginia who will receive all your comments posted on this video.Read more
The Los Angeles Film Festival is focusing their International Spotlight this year on Cuba. When people think about this country, some only remember stories heard on the news about their political unrest and poverty. I bet what they didn’t know is that Cuba is filled with amazing culture and art among so many other of its colorful qualities. Like many struggling artists in third world countries, so many of their creations rarely see the light of day- North American day, that is. Cuban films rarely find distribution in the U.S. and are being honored this year so get ready for some culture people, because that’s what this country is all about!Read more
Charlene Agabao and Aurora Guerrero talked to Director of Talent Development Josh Welsh about their time at Film Independent, crowd-funding and the process of making their dynamic independent film, Mosquita y Mari. FIND Fellows Aurora Guerrero (Project:Involve 2000) and Charlene Agabao (2009 Producers Lab) are currently prepping their feature Mosquita y Mari, the story of a timid 15-year-old Chicana’s life changes when she develops a complex friendship with the rebellious new girl in her South East Los Angeles neighborhood. The filmmakers plan to shoot in Los Angeles in summer 2011. They have received partial financing from Latino Public Broadcasting and are currently raising the rest of their financing from private sources and through an ambitious Kickstarter campaign. Agabao was in Film Independent’s 2009 Producers Lab with the project. Josh Welsh: How did you two meet and when did you decide to work together on Mosquita y Mari?Read more
This morning the Los Angeles Film Festival announced their line up for the 2011 festival, each year the festival selects an international spotlight and this year the festival has chosen to focus on Cuba whose films are rarely distributed in the United States. This special program has been sponsored by the Department of Cultural Affairs and UCLA Latin American Institute. Among the films scheduled to appear is documentary Operation Peter Pan: Flying Back to Cuba.Read more
As Jennifer Lopez’s career-resurrecting new judging gig on “American Idol” shows, Hollywood does a great job reaching the Hispanic demographic — except when it tries to. Take “From Prada to Nada,” the first release from Pantelion Films, a new venture from Lionsgate and the Mexican media conglomerate Televisa formed to tap into the Hispanic market. The movie has done an underwhelming $2.9 million since its Jan. 28 debut, although the company remains sanguine about the movie’s — and the new company’s — prospects.Read more
I’ve been watching the Oscars ever since I could understand what everyone was saying, (and yes, preparing a very nice speech for when the day comes One of the ideas that always came to mind was that it would be really cool to be the first Latina director or the first Mexican actress to receive a little golden guy, but come to think of it, and as exciting as it would be, WHY HAVEN’T THERE BEEN MORE BY NOW?! Yes, there have been nominations, but come on Hollywood, it’s 2011. Start making movies about us already and not having non-Latinos with bad accents play us. And another thing, when we do win we’ll need more than 30 seconds for our thank you speeches because we tend to have lots and lots of family members and friends. Just saying.
Article: The “Whiteout” of American Culture
By: Randy Shaw
Date: Feb. 15‚ 2011
Film director/producer Richard Ray Perez talks with Cuéntame about growing up in LA, going to Harvard, and becoming a Latino filmmaker.
He gives us an exclusive insight, footage and preview of the documentary on Cesar Chavez days of fasting as protest.
Ask Mr. Perez a question! Post them below. (check out facebook.com/cesarslastfast)Read more
Offensive? Controversial? Inciting? Juan Frances is a character from El Superstar, a mockumentary by Amy French about very very unique upbringing.
In this episode, Juan Frances himself offers a satirical and social commentary on what ethnicity and one’s background means and how it relates to physical appearance.
To find out more about El Superstar you can check it out at elsuperstar.comRead more