Queering Democracy Community Organizer Fausto Cardenas (they/them/theirs) shares a guest post about their father, and a message to all fathers.
If you know me personally, you know that I love to speak about my father and how amazing he’s been throughout my life. I don’t do it as a means to brag or show off, but from admiration that a father of a LGBTQ+ child is not only accepting, but proud and relentless in his support. Unfortunately, I know all too many LGBTQ+ people that do not feel supported by their fathers or father figures. Though that is a bigger conversation to have about the social confines of masculinity and patriarchy, this piece is to show my gratitude and love for my father and fathers around the world who are supporting and fighting for their LGBTQ+ children.
I was born in Ecuador, one of the smallest country in South America. Though Ecuador has only recently legalized same-sex marriage as the outcome of litigation, the mindset of folks there has not evolved in the same way. Now, my father currently and almost all his life has lived in Ecuador. He always tells me that as much as he loves traveling the world and experiencing different cultures, Ecuador is the only country that holds his heart. Setting my own experiences with homophobia aside, Ecuador is a beautiful country full of rich culture, landscapes, and people. Many are shocked to find out that my father who lives in a country that isn’t as accepting of LGBTQ+ identities could turn out to be this ferocious ally.
My father has been a LGBTQ+ ally for most of his life believe it or not. My earliest memory was when I was in Middle School and I traveled to Ecuador to visit my father and my family. There’s this indie movie theatre in Quito called OCHOYMEDIO where we would often go to watch international films that don’t usually air in commercial theatres. Ironically, one of the days we decided to go, there was an LGBTQ+ film festival and many of the films that were airing were around LGBTQ+ themes. I was in Middle School, unsure of myself, severely closeted, and fully in denial when I lashed out and complained about being in this space with so many LGBTQ+ people. My dad was the first one to confront my homophobic remarks and tell me that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with people being LGBTQ+ and that we need to accept everyone as they are, even being happy that this LGBTQ+ film festival was even happening in the first place. Though I didn’t appreciate that gesture then, I look back on it now and see just how much impact that had on me now.
Another iconic moment that I love to share with my peers are the times my dad has gone to Pride events in Ecuador just to show his support for me, even if I’m not there, and to other LGBTQ+ people living in Ecuador. He’s the type of father that takes pictures with signs from PFLAG that say “I love my gay child” “God loves you” and many other signs that we sometimes take for granted here. He’s taken photos with some drag queens at pride, has attended LGBTQ+ affirmative events, and has been outspoken of his support to his friends, community, and to even his own siblings that don’t feel the same way. He continues to do this without fear of being labeled gay, that unfortunately occur quite often in a culture that is intolerant of LGBTQ+ folks and uses the label to shut down any form of allyship.
Lastly, just a couple of months ago, I was able to take a trip to Ecuador for the December holiday break since I have not seen my father in about 3 years due to graduating college and starting my career. This time was a little different. Last year I finally took a leap into my fascination with makeup and have been wearing it quite often here. My mother who was also born in Ecuador warned me not to take any makeup because people are going to make fun of me or worse, she didn’t want my family to see it. While it was a bold decision I made, I decided to take it anyway because it was something I enjoyed and a part of me kept saying that I need to be true to myself no matter the gossip or insults I might have to deal with. When I got there, it was my father that was my first supporter. While he did say it wasn’t something he expected, he said he’ll support me no matter what; even though someone did call me the f word on the bus not even being there for a full 24 hours haha!
I don’t think I could ever fully put it in words just how infinitely grateful I am to the universe for having given me not only a supportive father, but an LGBTQ+ activist father. Though we are thousands of miles away, our bond and connection are strong. He has always been someone that I can speak to when times get tough and that will support me no matter how far we are or what is going on in my life. Just looking at his WhatsApp profile picture you’ll see a “No to Homophobia” message, like what more can I ask for?!
Happy Father’s Day to you and to all the amazing fathers out there!