In the past 15 years, being gay has become more and more nationally accepted. According to research done by the Pew Research Center, public opinion on same sex marriage has risen from 35 percent in 2001 to 55 percent in 2016.
By STEPHANIE STANZIANO
EL NUEVO SOL
Christian Charles Palmer was born on August 28th, 1994 in Long Beach California. His mother Jessica Gonzales, later to remarry and become Jessica Davis, had just graduated from high school.
“I was the stereotype for teen pregnancy and it sucked,” said Davis, “I was a young Mexican girl, whose parents kicked her out because I got pregnant before marriage, with no money, and no idea what the hell I was going to do,”
The one thing she did know was that she was going to make sure this child had the opportunity to be as successful as he wanted to be.
Being a child, with a child, Davis had to grow up fast and figure out a plan.
“I worked hard,” said Davis. “I picked up odd jobs everywhere and anywhere just to make sure that we were able to have a roof over our heads. I was at the weekly food bank to make sure my baby boy had food in his tummy and would grow up to be the big strong man I envisioned him to be.”
Machismo is a word thrown around by many in the Latin culture. It is defined by Websters Dictionary as “a strong sense of masculine pride, and an exaggerated sense of power and strength”. It is also, what some believe “pressures many man who have sex with other men to refuse to identify themselves as gay. Leading it to be incredibly detrimental to the Latino community and in some cases, deadly,” according to an article published by Alternet.
The concept of the “tough guy” and “manly man” was what Jessica had pictured her son to grow up to be.
“My mom always wanted me to play sports, and be a man,” said Palmer “she signed me up for boxing, MMA, soccer, anything that required physical contact really, but to be honest, I hated all of it.”
At age 10 Palmer decided that he wanted to join the all boys school choir, “I liked singing, and at the time, the school choir was competing and traveling all around the U.S. and nothing, I mean nothing, sounded more exciting.”
So, after months of begging, Jessica caved and Christian got his wish.
“He was just so damn cute,” said Davis, “he was this smiley little blue eyed bundle of joy and I didn’t know how I could say no to him, I thought that it would be harmless. I thought maybe he could be a famous rock star.”
The choir is where Palmer says he first realized that he might like boys.
“On our trips we would travel as a group, and everyone would talk about their crushes on girls. They would ask me who I liked and I would always say no one, because honestly girls didn’t interest me. They had these annoying high pitched voices and were always whining about something. I was more interested in the guys in my group, one in particular always made me feel nervous. I didn’t realize it then, but I believe that was the moment that started the tumble into where I am now.”
Entering into middle school, Palmer had not done anything to explore any of the feelings that he couldn’t explain.
“No one in my family is gay, no one even discussed gay people before I came out, so growing up, I really had no idea what being gay even was, all I knew was that a boy liking a boy was wrong because of church.”
“We were never very religious people,” said Davis “I had been treated so poorly for getting pregnant, I never really liked to go to church, but once I had my feet on the ground I wanted Christian to have some idea of the benefits that religion can offer you.”
So, once a month they would go to a catholic church down the street from their home, so that the ideas of Christ would be ones that Palmer could live by.
“I will never forget,” he said. “I was 13 and there was a girl that went to my school that liked me. Her friends would tell me every day to go and ask her to be my girlfriend but I always said no, frankly because I thought she was ugly. But one day, the priest was talking about the fact that a man should not be with a man, I don’t remember why but I felt like he was staring right at me, and I felt shame. It was like God himself was looking into the depths of my soul and said I know what you want to do but don’t do it. So the next day I went to school and I asked the girl to be my girlfriend and she kissed me right on the lips. I swear I almost threw up but I pretended to like it because I thought that’s what I was supposed to do.”
Philosophy professor Gregory Trianosky says that this is a common way to avoid what is actually going on emotionally.
“It is commonly found when interviews are taken, that gay men have had one, or a few girlfriends, before fully admitting to themselves that they are indeed gay. Same goes vice versa for women. It is felt in the psychology community that this is because of the lack of support that these children get with their sexual preferences. Growing up children are told that girls like boys and boys like girls and that it is. There’s no room for exploration or a switch up of that structure, so they don’t mess with it until they can’t contain the beast inside of them, telling them this is wrong anymore.”
After about a week of lip locking, Palmer decided that he could no longer do it.
“I broke up with my girlfriend and when I did I swear it was like the world lifted off of my shoulders,” Palmer said. “I know it doesn’t sound like a long time, but one whole week for a 13-year old feels like an eternity.”
Davis just thought that Palmers lack of enthusiasm for women was just a phase.
“I thought he was just a late bloomer, he loved video games and would spend hours and hours locked up in his room, so I thought that he was just not social enough to realize that there was a girl out there that he would like.”
So, time passed and as a sophomore in high school Palmer had no girlfriend but plenty of girl friends around him.
“Don’t get me wrong, at this point I loved having girls around me,” said Palmer. “I loved hearing all of the gossip and them talking about boys. I never talked with them, but whenever they would talk about a cute boy walking by, it was nice to be able to look and agree mentally.”
The homecoming dance was the one dance that the high school allowed all grade levels to go to. Palmer had gone as a freshman by himself, and was planning on doing so again this year with his group of friends.
“Going to the dances alone wasn’t a big deal at my school; people just went with their friends and had a good time. I thought that this year was going to be the same, until one of my friends asked me to go with her as her date. I thought it would be as friends, but when we were dancing on the floor, she took my hand and moved it into her lower unmentionables, and the second I felt it, I knew with 100% certainty, that I was gay.”
With this realization, it was hard for Palmer to think about what to do next.
“Do I go to counseling? Is this going to be how I think for forever? Why is this happening to me? Were just a few of the thoughts running through my head, but the one thing I wanted I wanted to do more than anything, was tell my mom.”
It took Palmer a month to work up the courage to walk up to Davis, sit her down, and let her know that he liked men.
“My mother looked at me and said, ‘I would rather you be an ax-murderer than be gay.’”
She was crushed.
“I just didn’t understand,” said Davis. “I mean, this was my baby boy, the light of my life. I had pictured him finding a wife and having kids, not a husband and adopting. I wondered what I did wrong. I thought about what people would think, what my family would think, and how we were going to get through this.”
It was the separation that was the hardest part for Palmer.
“Growing up, it was always just me and my mom, I mean yeah, she got remarried and I had a step brother, but still, there was no bond like ours, and to know that me just being me could potentially break that bond was one of the hardest things I have ever gone through.”
Knowing how his mom took it made it even more difficult to try and grasp how his Mexican- American, god fearing family would take it.
“In the years after my parents had kicked my ass out for getting pregnant, we had reconciled our differences and moved forward with our relationship. But with so much tension still there I didn’t even want to think about what they were going to do when they found out that the son I decided to have was gay.”
“But we told them anyways, ”said Palmer “and to my surprise, they were more accepting that my own mother. I think that was a big wake up call for her. To know that her family who should have shunned us once again for not going by god’s word, was accepting of me, that she should be too.
In the years since, understanding is the one thing that the family has learned. Knowing that no matter what they are better together.
“I was lucky,” said Palmer “lucky because I got my family on board pretty quickly, but I know so many that are in a similar situation, with families like mine, that are treated as though they were never a part of the family to begin with. To those people I say, never give up, fight for what you believe in and know that God only gives you what you can handle. And to their families, I say, I hope that one day you realize the beautiful light you have decided to let go.”