I realized I was gay at 13, thanks to European cinema. Then, at 18, when I went into college, I joined a queer group that became activists, and with them, I went to my first Pride parade in Peru. I was terrified of someone familiar seeing me. I put my head down, trying not to be noticed – which was pretty hard since I’m quite tall. During my second Pride, I was a little more secure and confident, but still reserved.
Sometime after that, I was basically forced to come out. I told my mother, older sister, and younger brother. They say when you come out of the closet, your family goes into it. My little brother never did — he didn’t care about me being gay and never treated me differently. My mother and sister were shocked and did ‘go into the closet’ about me, but they came out pretty quickly. And as soon as my mother’s health allowed, she came to Pride with the whole family. I wasn’t sure if she would fully enjoy so much queerness, but I saw her flying the rainbow flag around like crazy and laughing honestly, absolutely happy, That became one of the most special moments of my life.
Then came my grandmother. My mom’s relatives are indigenous people from the Andes, and by custom, we show love by sharing food. If we offer you something to eat, you’re welcome in our lives. If you refuse it, it’s profoundly offensive. One day, she gave me her famous tamales, but had made extra for my then-boyfriend. That was her way of saying, very clearly, ‘I’m totally fine with you being gay. I love you exactly as you are.’
Coming out never ends—there are always new people to inform. But to me, being fully out means I’m comfortable talking about my sexuality regardless of where I am or what people will think. That’s where I am now. And I hope in the future, for others, the prospect of being at Pride in Peru or wherever only brings excitement, not fear—that it’s just about being happy and excited to be with your people. I also hope one day Pride is seen as lesson for everyone that you can be whatever and whomever you want to be and as long as you’re happy, you deserve to be celebrated for that. – Gonzalo Meneses #MIDP ‘23 #HumansofDukeSanford #pride