Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Coming Out

DISCLAIMER: If you are a homophobe, this is not for you! Thanks.
“I hate God, I don’t know why he would make me a girl,” says my seven year old cousin, Isabella. I am not exaggerating when I say, Izzy is the most intelligent and brave seven year old I have ever had the privilege of knowing. When I talk to her, it is as if I am talking to an educated adult. As young as she may be, she has the gift of being not only a great listener, but also the gift of understanding complex concepts that even I struggle with comprehending. Furthermore, when I ask her a question, she doesn’t respond with a monosyllabic answer like most seven year olds do, rather she responds with an answer that leads to an open ended conversation. She also uses words and phrases that I have just begun to master! Moreover, her intelligence brings about her sassiness. She is such a character!
Isabella is from my dad’s side of the family, which is much smaller than my mother’s side. My dad only has one sibling, a sister named Liza, who is the mother of Isabella. My tia Liza has fair skin and Isabella’s father is a white man; therefore, Isabella is fair skin with blonde hair and blue eyes … nothing like her primas (cousins). When she was born she had “silver” eyes and light blond hair, she was (and still is) a beauty. Around her toddler years, her hair grew out to be perfect little curls. In fact, there is a picture of her that I have on my refrigerator with her “goldilock curls” in cute little pigtails. When she was around three years old, she began wearing more “masculine” clothing, wanting to only shop in the boy section at stores. She sure loved her Marvel t-shirts, and her Star Wars jackets. At around five years old she cut her own hair, giving herself a bob cut with slanted bangs. Shortly after, my tia took her to get her “Elvis Presley” haircut she had been asking for. It was such a cute cut, that definitely fit her personality! Furthermore, in February of 2015, Isabella had her baptism. Her mom sent me a picture of the shoes that Izzy chose for herself: sparkly silver flats with a purple bow. That was quite a surprise! But when we entered the chapel and I first saw Izzy I understood why she chose those shoes … it was because they matched her silver tux and purple bow tie! She looked so spiffy!
Last year Isabella entered a new, private school where her class size was rather small. She began Kindergarten with her “best friend” from preschool. However, that friend of hers began to torment her throughout the school year, causing others to bully her because of her “tomboy” appearance. My sister said that one day she was reading “Pete the Cat” to Isabella. (If you are unfamiliar with these stories, they are about a cat that stays positive despite the fact that he is “different” from others.) Thus, after my sister finished reading the book, Izzy told my sister that it wasn’t okay for him to be different. She said this because at school, through the bullying, Izzy was learning that it wasn’t in fact okay for her to be “different.” She later said, “I hate God, why would he make me a girl.” When my sister told me this, it hit me like a ton of bricks, because at that point in Izzy’s life she truly hated God. She couldn’t understand why he would make her a girl when she had always identified herself as a boy. I began thinking, “Why would God do that? It’s going to bring about not only external, but also internal conflict that no child should go through. However, I am grateful that Izzy has been raised around a family that accepts her for who she is. My grandma, despite being a dedicated Catholic, has supported Izzy’s genderqueer identity.
This pass Monday, my tia told me that two months ago Izzy saw a movie where two womxn were kissing. Initially, Izzy said, “That’s so gross!” Her mother explained to her the concept of various sexual orientations, saying “It’s not gross Izzy, you can love whoever you choose to love, be it a boy or a girl.” Thus, on Monday morning Izzy went up to her mother and said, “Mom, do you remember that movie where two girls were kissing? Well, I think that was pretty cool.” That evening as I was helping Izzy with her homework, I brought up what she had said to her mom, and I told her that I thought it was pretty cool too. She responded with, “Yah I know right! I’m already planning to date my friend in 8th grade (mind you she’s currently a first grader) and then we can get married and then I’ll become a mechanic!” All I could say was “Wow.” The fact that Isabella is so sure of herself at seven years old is so beautiful to me. She’s smart enough to understand that she’s going to go through “hell and back” for being “different.” But I don’t worry too much for her because 1. She has a supportive family 2. I believe that when she grows older she will be instilled with more confidence 3. She is and always has been a tough cookie.

It’s crazy and yet amazing to say how much Izzy (despite being seven years old) has impacted my life and my way of thinking. She has taught me to embrace who I am in spite of those who will not “accept” me. So here it goes …  I am bisexual. Yayyy! If you are uncomfortable with that, well… you gotta live with it. Until next time.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

South City, My City

“If only I had a dollar for every time I had to explain that South San Francisco is a city South of San Francisco…”
I moved to South City in 03’ because my parents wanted my sister and I to live in a big house with a nice yard where we could go out and play. The house that I live in now was once my grandparents and before that it was my tia’s. As I have mentioned in a previous post, this house was built by my mami’s tio who was a mere five feet. Thus, this house is fit just for my family, since we are all pequeños (short). This house holds countless memories, as each room has a different “purpose.” For instance, the kitchen is where my mami makes her famous food, such as her mouthwatering sopes. It is also where friends and family are welcome over to eat. The living room is where we host Christmas Eve each year, and when I was younger it was where my cousins and I would dress up and put on “shows” for our family. The dining room is where we have lit dozens of candles for birthdays and where my family and I have tried to sing Las Mananitas on key. The backyard is where my cousin and I would make mud pies for hours and where we tried to “perfect” our double dutching skills. Lastly, during the summer, the front yard is where I would play in the sprinklers and where there would always be a lemonade stand set.
As I have grown older, I have come to appreciate my home and my city more than I used to. For instance, I am lucky to have a majority of my family live in close proximity to me; the farthest being my lita (grandma) in Daly City and the closest being my cousins who live just around the corner from me. Not only does my family live in close proximity to me, but so does my best friend. As a matter of fact, she’s my neighbor! We met at Head Start, our preschool, and have been friends ever since! Who else is fortunate enough to say that their neighbor is their best friend? Cause let me tell you, that shit is awesome. For instance, when I want to “escape” my household all I need to do is walk across the street!
Another aspect that I love about South City is that I consider it to be a primarily working class community. I feel like most of us who live in South City struggle everyday to make ends meet; nonetheless, we are willing to lend a hand to those in need. Thus, I feel like South City truly is one large community … we even have our own lingo. For example, if you’re from SSF you better know what OP stands for … (Orange Park). South City also has the bombest food! For me personally these are some of the best places to get yummy food:
  1. La Tapatia located on Grand Avenue: Their carnitas and frijoles are to die for!!
  2. Little Lucca Sandwich Shop located on El Camino Real: This place is teeny tiny (hence the name), but the sandwiches are not!
  3. Raymond’s Sourdough Bread located on Spruce Avenue: Legit planning to work there over the summer just so I can get free bread. It is that good.
  4. Panaderia Hernandez located on Grand Avenue: “Don’t be self conchas.” Yo, their pan dulce smells like heaven on earth.
Furthermore, I might be a bit biased when I say … Grand Avenue is way better than Burlingame Avenue (or any other downtown for that matter). I mean sure Burlingame Avenue has Tpumps and overpriced restaurants and stores, but what it doesn’t have is Grand Avenue’s authentic restaurants and quality thrift stores. I’m not trying to “diss” Burlingame Avenue, but … I mean … yah … we’re better. Also, Sign Hill “shits on” other city’s scenic view because 1. It is a nice, short hike up 2. If you bring cardboard you can slide down the letters 3. At night, the view is breathtaking. 10/10 I would recommend going up there, it’s a chill environment to go with friends and or a reflective environment when needing some alone time.

I want to end this by saying how blessed I am to have been raised in South City. Not only has it caused me to become “physically and emotionally” closer to my family, but it has also led me to become the hardworking womxn I am today. I am most definitely proud to say I am from South City.