My 29 year-old cousin came out yesterday…

And I would say about 95% of the family knew he was gay… Except his mother, his father and a few other family members in denial.

My cousin happens to be my first cousin and my third cousin. My uncle (my mom’s brother) and my aunt (my mom and uncle’s first cousin) decided to be sneaky when they were young, and a child resulted out of that incestuous relationship. My uncle and aunt never formalized anything (my aunt’s dad wanted to kill my uncle of course), my grandma and her sister didn’t know what to do with themselves, and God knows what else went down at the time. My uncle moved on and has been married or shacked up a couple of times after that, and had 2 more sons. My aunt never moved on.

My cousin has had such a hard life. I can only imagine what it must have felt like to know that you’re the result of incest. Your grandmothers are sisters and your parents are first cousins. You were not desired. I guess some would even consider him an abomination. I will give my parents all the credit in the world for raising me to not be judgmental of others, and to always love my family regardless of what life threw at us. I have always loved my cousin, he’s a wonderful, sweet, hilarious and talented artist. Since he was very young, he could draw and paint masterful pieces. I’m not sure when exactly I figured out that he was gay, but I’ve known for a long time. So have most of my family – the ones that live in the 21st century at least. The ones that still live in the Stone Age “don’t know” or are too deep in denial to see…

My cousin had 1 “publicly known” girlfriend about 10 years ago (or maybe more), they were together for around 7 months. I think he really tried to be straight, but that’s not something you can choose to be. He has had an unmatched obsession with Christina Aguilera ever since “Genie in a bottle,” and is currently holding two teaching jobs at important universities as a drawing/fashion design teacher… You see where I’m going here right? Clear as mud? I thought so too.

I swear I thought he would never come out. He was so firm in his apprehension to show any signs of being gay, that I even questioned my gaydar, but I must say I got hooked up with a pretty good one since birth.

The tables turned 3 weeks ago, when my cousin was actually kidnapped in Venezuela. Over there, it’s like the national sport – “express kidnapping,” where they take you, drive you around and ask you to go to an ATM to withdraw funds or let you call for a money reward. Since my cousin is not really well off, they threatened to murder him and dump him in a river. Wouldn’t be the first, won’t be the last. For some miracle, he was kidnapped with his friend whose parents were able to come up with some of the money these indescriptible inhumans requested, and they were released about 5 to 6 hours after they were captured.

We all were relieved to know that he made it out alive, since not many people live to tell that story. Turns out, that moment was completely life-changing for him (in more than the obvious way), as he promised himself that if he made it out alive, he would come clean and come out for good. I guess he realized life is too short to live a lie and be as unhappy as I’m sure he was. He is the son of a very uptight and bitter woman, and the macho of all machos. He has probably lived all his life hating himself, trying to not be something he was “wired” to be since conception, and he just couldn’t take it anymore.

Last night I called my mom who just so happens to be in Venezuela for some medical reasons, and I heard her anguish over the phone. When I asked what was wrong, she tried to brush me off but I insisted until she said “Your cousin is coming out to his mom as we speak.” I’m pretty sure my blood pressure dropped and I don’t even know what else went through my mind and body. I was happy for him, but I knew this wasn’t going to be pretty.

I couldn’t get the details until just now, and they’re not good. Apparently, last night was filled with sobbing and screaming. He feels like a horrible human, a piece of crap, less than nothing, and kept asking his mother to forgive him for being who he is. My aunt went into complete shock, anxiety and most importantly, suicidal mode. She is currently on a self-mandated one-way guilt trip to hell. She keeps saying it’s her fault, she wants to die and can barely contain herself in her body right now. My mom had to give them both sleeping pills last night so they could calm down and find their slumber. I would not want to be in that house right now.

I really can’t imagine what it’s been like for him, living for so many years knowing/feeling that everything that has to do with him is “wrong.” I really wish I could talk to him and console him, but he doesn’t know that I’m updated on the situation. My mom apparently told him that I knew about his sexual orientation and that most of our family has been in the loop for years, and that made him feel even more ashamed. I feel so helpless and sad, not even remotely able to put myself in his shoes.

If you’re still reading this and you have gone through something similar or have any advice to share on how to deal with this situation, I will more than appreciate it.

At the moment, I’m just shitting bricks waiting to hear when my uncle finds out.

Today, I paid for my dad’s dinner for the first time

I’m 23 years old. Tonight, my brother, my dad and I went to dinner. Tonight, for the first time ever, I paid for our dinner – but more specifically, for my dad’s food.

This is a HUGE deal because:

1. My dad is a Holocaust child. His family was well off when he was born, but because they were Jewish, they were kicked out of Egypt and not allowed to take anything other than what they were wearing (and two diamonds my grandma swallowed to help them later on). After moving through countries a few times, they finally settled down in Venezuela and were taking off economically. My grandfather passed away from a heart attack when my dad was 13. My grandma did some intense budgeting with the money they had in savings, and made it last 4 years until my dad and his 2 brothers were out of high school and could get jobs. My dad worked his tail off his entire life, and I myself saw his struggle to succeed. Money is a huge deal to him [insert Jewish pun about money here], and his biggest mission in his life was that none of his 6 children would have to endure the economic hardships he went through.

2. My mom grew up in Colombia foster child style, living with whatever relatives would take her and my uncle in, while my grandma went off to find money in Venezuela. At one point in her life she had 3 or 4 jobs. She also worked day and night with my dad to make sure my siblings and I would have a better life and better opportunities than she did.

3. We moved to the US, and due to documentation issues, I was not allowed to work until I was a Sophomore in college. By that time, I had decided I was going to get a good enough resume with my involvement, so that when job-hunting came around, I could have some sort of experience. My parents both were all for me studying and being involved, and never pushed me to work. I didn’t get a “job” until Senior year, and that didn’t even count… I was unemployed for 6 months after graduating until I got my current job, last June. It’s super official in a huge global company, and I am so happy – and getting paid in a legitimate and timely manner for the first time in my life.

4. My dad and I are very alike – we don’t like bothering anyone, people doing us favors, or others paying for our stuff. We’d rather pay for 3 football teams to be fed before letting others pay for us. He wouldn’t even let me pay last year on FATHER’S DAY!

I spent all day coming up with a plan to pay. I even thought of talking to the waitress before our meal so she would have my credit card on hand when the time came to pay so that my dad wouldn’t have a chance to reject my request. It didn’t work out like I wanted, and by the time the check came, my “plan A” was our the door. So I grabbed my card, and had to wrestle my dad for about 5 minutes until he finally give in and let me pay – not without a look of suffering in his eyes and a knot in his throat.

I just got home and he called me to say thank you, and that even though he felt bad for letting me spend money on him, it made him so proud to see me so settled and so grown up.

Tonight, I paid for my dad’s food for the first time. Even though I’m sure this is not going to become a standard for us, it felt freaking good. Still does. Can’t wait until this father’s day! 🙂