Cultural or Ethnic Background of Interviewee:  Hispanic/Lesbian

Age: 27

Gender: Female

Education: B.S.

Occupation:  Account Executive

 

1.  Please describe the most important values and beliefs of your culture.

 

            The values and beliefs are the same as that of any heterosexual, and are not gay specific. Furthermore, values and beliefs are of a personal nature and should be looked at on an individual basis. Family and friends are an important aspect of anyone’s life, and a gay individual is no different.  Unfortunately, some gay individuals are denied the love and contact of their biological family and their friends become their only family.

            I find it hard to list all the values and beliefs deemed important by my Hispanic culture, but there are a few predominant ones which I think overshadow the rest. I believe that family is one, if not the most important, of said values.  Secondly, religion also plays an important role in my culture. I think that my religious beliefs, along with the Spanish language, help provide a sense of community and uniqueness in my culture.  I don’t feel that my Hispanic heritage and gay culture together will change my values and beliefs.

 

  1. Please describe important cultural events, celebrations, and practices in your culture.

 

            The month of June is designated as “Gay Pride” month. Throughout the months of June & July, there are parades and large festivals all over the world celebrating the homosexual culture.  In Australia, the Gay Games are an Olympic style event held annually for gay athletics and competition. Gay & Lesbian Film Festivals are held throughout the USA.  Disney also has “Gay Disney” at their theme parks.  Gays and lesbians gather at Disney World during these days and enjoy the park and each others company.  As far as I know, this is a gathering of the gay community.  As far as Disney is concerned, I don’t believe that this is an event that they put on.  I think it just came about and Disney became affiliated with it.

            The most important cultural event that I can think of for myself is my fifteen party.  This is a celebration when a Cuban girl turns fifteen.  It is a formal party that all family and friends attend.  I remember having around 300 people at mine.  Another event is Dia de Santo.  This is also called a name day.  Basically, Cubans are named after a saint.  I am named after Saint Rosa.  However, it does not have to be your first name as in the case with mine.  In a nut shell, there is a party for the saint that you were named after.  This is an important day in my culture.  There are also celebrations in honor of Jose Marti’s birthday.  This usually involves having parties, gatherings and fairs.  Finally, there is La Cariedad del Cobre.  Cobre is a port in Cuba.  This day represents a story of three men drowning in a storm.  A statue of the Virgin Mary appeared to them from a sanctuary.  It is said that she rose out of the water and guided the men to safety.  In celebration there is a procession and a large mass.

                       

 

 

 

  1. What reading materials, films, or videos can help us learn about your culture?

 

Films/Videos - The Celluloid Closet, Philadelphia, Kissing Jessica Stein, Queer as Folk, Laramie Project, Boys Don’t Cry, If These Walls Could Talk 2, It’s My Party, Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, Stonewall, The Times of Harvey Milk

 

Books – Naked by David Sedaris, Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs, The Children Are Free: Reexamining the Biblical Evidence on Same-Sex Relationships by Jeff Miner, Eight Bullets: One Woman’s Story of Surviving Anti-Gay Violence by Claudia Brenner, A Woman Like That: Lesbian and Bisexual Writers Tell Their Coming Out Stories by Joan Larkin

 

I am familiar with a few movies that would represent my Hispanic heritage well.  My mother has always been interested in things such as this, so I know of a few movies and books.

 

As far as films go:  Hispanic Magazine's Guide to Hispanic Excellence: The Leaders, Hispanic Magazine's Guide to Hispanic Excellence: Arts & Entertainment, and Jane Burnett: Cuban Odyssey - Spirit Of Havana.  In actuality, I do know of a gay Cuban movie.  It is called Before Night Falls.  It involves a gay poet in Cuba who came to the United States to seek refuge.

 

The only book two books I know of are Mambo Kings Sing Songs of Love and Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy by Carlos Eire.  I know that my parents have read this book (the second one listed) and enjoyed it very much.  They told me that they could place themselves back in Cuba after reading this.  It involves the author recounting vibrant stories from his childhood in 1950s Havana.

 

  1. How do you think others outside of your culture view your culture?

 

            Views are varied, and as cultures outside of my own continue to learn more about homosexuality it becomes less taboo.  With increasing exposure to gay/lesbian culture many individuals are becoming more open and educated to the gay culture, but there will always be those who because of their personal/religious beliefs will never accept gay culture.

            In regards to my Hispanic heritage, non-Hispanics fail to realize how diverse the Hispanic population is. They assume this stereotype that all Hispanics have tan complexion, dark hair, and dark eyes. It seems that anyone who does not fit this stereotype is viewed as even more different.  I am accustomed to people thinking that we are all from the same country.  I mean, where do they think we come from? - Hispanic land.  I don’t like people who make ignorant comments like this one, but I unfortunately have grown up hearing such intolerable words.  Also, Spanish is spoken differently in each culture.  When you go to another Hispanic country, common words that I know of have different meanings and are sometimes frowned upon.  Even though these people are Hispanic as well, they don’t always understand this difference.  With these implications in mind, I guess it is sometimes like I have 2 strikes against me because of my gay and Hispanic cultures mixing.

 

 

 

 

  1. What are the fondest memories you have from your childhood?

 

            As any child, I enjoyed spending time with friends and family. I enjoyed every moment that I made my parents laugh and felt proud every time I made them proud.

     

  1. Have you ever experienced prejudice or discrimination? Please elaborate.

 

            Directly, no. Indirectly, yes.  I encounter jokes, remarks, and criticism daily by both my family and my co-workers. Most use phrases like “you’re such a fag”, “you are so gay”, “fudge packer”, “dike” or they tell gay bashing jokes while I sit quietly and watch all the others laugh.  Then there are those that label priests who molest and rape children of the same gender as “gay” instead of “pedophiles”.  While preachers like Jerry Falwell tell the nation that September 11 was God punishing sinners, including the “Gays” and psychologists like Dr. Laura proclaiming gays as an abomination and sexual deviants.

            I’ve never experienced any real prejudice or discrimination from non-Hispanics, other than the occasional ignorant remarks that I already mentioned.  I feel fortunate not to have had anything serious happen to me or my family.  Being a Hispanic and a lesbian does not make things easier.  It makes it that much harder.  I find myself having to fight twice as hard to make it through the negative stereotypes that I have been associated with.  I hope that some day I will be able to express who I am freely without any hesitation.

             

  1. How people from your culture perceive counseling and counselors?

 

            Counseling is very personal and should be looked at on an individual basis. Having said that, most people are more comfortable receiving counseling from people within there own culture, potentially going through the same issues. Just are women feel more comfortable with female doctors, most gay individuals feel more comfortable with gay/ gay friendly counseling.

            Hispanics are family oriented, and I know that my family would view seeing a counselor as negative.  My family would expect me to turn to them when I need help.  However, they don’t know everything about me.  I think they assume that I am gay, but have never mentioned it.  Perhaps if they knew this, it wouldn’t be so hard for them to fathom me going to see a counselor.  I am not implying that I need to see a counselor because of my sexual orientation.  I am simply saying that my parents would be more open to the suggestion if they knew about this part of my life.  I honestly feel that counseling could benefit everyone.  I am not sure that I view it as different coming from my point of view.  Although I am Hispanic, I was born and raised in this country.  I am quite Americanized as a result.  I think that I view counseling in the same fashion that white Americans do.

 

  1. What issues or concerns do you think people from your culture would bring to counseling?

 

            The same issues as everyone else combined with discrimination from friends, family and the rest of the world. There could also be grievances from the loss of family and friends due to “coming out” as well as issues of leading a double life – one that is openly gay and one that is concealed.  Counseling could also deal with bashings, rapes and murders of those that are gay or supporters of gays.

            Dealing with the Hispanic part of my life, I would think that more family oriented issues would be discussed in counseling.  The life of a Hispanic revolves around family.  Like I mentioned before, I am Americanized and I am accustomed to American values and beliefs as well as Hispanic and gay.  The family life can be overwhelming at times.  Having lived on my own for so long, it is difficult to return to the close knit family relationship that my parents expect of me.

 

  1. When it comes to counseling, what approach or interventions do you think would help from your cultural group the most?

 

      I don’t think that any specific approach or intervention would somehow provide the most help for my cultural group.  I think that counseling should be approached on an individual basis.  Although I represent the Gay Community as well as the Hispanic Community, I am more in touch with White-mainstream values.  I would think that any typical counseling interventions would be appropriate for my culture, as long as it focused on my presenting concern.

 

  1. Is there anything else that you would like to add to help me understand your culture better?

 

            Ask before you assume and be open-minded about all things. For those that are outside of gay culture, be grateful that you can hold hands in the park, toast “to each other” during dinner, marry in the eyes of the law and love without ever being fearful of discrimination or physical harm.

            In regards to my Hispanic heritage, please don’t judge and stereotype me because of my background.  If you look deep enough inside, and you are able to get passed my sexual orientation and Hispanic features, you will see that I am the same as any other person.  Our differences, including ethnicity, are what make us so unique.  I couldn’t imagine a society that everyone was the same.  I would find it to be boring and dull.  We need to respect all people for who they are; not what they are.  We are all people.  I am a hardworking independent individual who has goals and dreams.  I do whatever I need to do to accomplish these.  I wish people wouldn’t hold things against me that are beyond my control.  If they choose to hold things against me, then I am better off not knowing them, and they are missing out on a dedicated an loyal person in their life.