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This story and its audio recording were produced as part of a workshop by the Boyle Heights Beat in collaboration with the Latino Equality Alliance, Mi Centro/Los Angeles LGBT Center and PFLAG.

At 17, Alex Medina is the youngest of Mario and Candelaria Medina’s four children, with whom they form a very united family. Three years ago he decided to come out of the closet and spoke to his parents, who assured him that their love for him would never change.

Now, Mario and Candelaria are active members and leaders at PFLAG and see it as their mission to help other parents who perhaps don’t know how to accept the fact that one of their children may be a member of the LGBTQ+ community.

In this interview, Alex –who will be a Senior at Bravo Medical Sciences Magnet High School in the fall– tells his parents how he felt before coming out of the closet and how he now wants to help other youth who are not as fortunate as he is. And he talks to them about his future plans, which include forming his own family.

Mario: How did you feel before speaking to us, your mom and dad, about your sexual orientation?

Alex: First of all, I felt very alone. I didn’t know about the LGBTQ+ community and I thought I was going through something unique, something that was happening only to me. But after speaking to you, I… and having your support, I realized I could orient myself, I could learn more about the community and really feel good about being what I am, and to survive anything, because I have your support. I think speaking to you really helped me because before doing so I felt lonely and felt that I couldn’t do any of the things that I know do in the groups I belong to.

Candelaria: Truly becoming involved in these PFLAG groups has been a big blessing to me because I am learning more, I am  helping myself and teaching myself how to walk with my son. And not only with my son, now it’s about helping more people and that is my goal: to be here in the groups to learn more and help more people… [in] accepting their children [in the fact] that it’s an existing reality and there is no reason not to accept them.

Alex: How do you compare Los Angeles LGBT community with what you saw growing up in Mexico?

Mario: Well, [being] gay in Guadalajara is seen with respect, and yes, you see a lot of members of the LGBT community, as you do everywhere, but I never saw them being attacked or bullied.

Alex: And you, ma?

Candelaria: I did have friends in school [that were gay]… and truly I didn’t see much homophobia. Personally, my parents taught me to respect others, that’s how I grew up, [knowing] that we have to love and respect each other for what we are.

Luisana: Hello, I’m Luisana Medina, Alex’s sister, and I am from Los Angeles. As a child I never saw any bullying towards the LGBT community, that’s probably because I was not involved or did not see reality. But now that I am educating myself more about this, I have learned more and seen reality.

Right now, in this moment, how are you feeling.

Alex: I feel very tired…

Luisana: (laughs)

Alex: …but I am happy now that I’m with my parents and one of my siblings.

Mario: How do you feel now that you know that our love for you will never change and has never changed?

Alex: I feel very happy and joyful [knowing] that my parents support me and that also all off my family supports me… I think that with this love, I can help other people that don’t have… that are not fortunate enough to have such a loving family. Many have to leave their homes, many are thrown out by their parents, and I truly want to help those who do not have what I have, I want to help everyone in the LGBTQ+ community… we all know we deserve respect and that we can truly do great things, like anyone else.

Candelaria: Mi’jo, tell me then, what are your plans for the future?

Alex: YI believe I am going to college, I will study journalism and politics, so that I can get involved more more and be more for my LGBTQ+ community, write stories about community members and I’d also like to be involved politically, to help a community that is sometimes discriminated against. And also… mmm, I think I will marry and have a family, sons and daughters, yes!

All: (laughter)

Participants:

Alex Medina

I am a 17-year-old gay Latino man attending Bravo Medical Magnet High School. I am involved in many organizations focused on improving local communities and helping advance the youth of Los Angeles.

Candelaria Medina

Mother, 51. Married, 34-year marriage, with five children.

I’d like to send a brief message to parents of LGBTQ youth. I invite you, I implore you, let’s walk together with our children, listen to your parents’ hearts and don’t pay attention to the prejudice that is destroying so many valuable lives. Let our children feel our support so that they can face the world with high self-esteem and can avoid being abused. Our children need all our love, not our rejection. Let’s learn more about this subject, it’s an existing reality.

Mario Medina

Father, 57. Originally from Guadalajara, México

Luisana Medina

Sister. She is pursuing a master’s degree at Cal State L.A. She is the mother of two boys.

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