Viviendo en la Claridad: “Jesus was not a Boy”

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[Haz click aquí para leer la nota en español]

Have you ever felt like an ugly duckling, rejected for being different from others? That is how Luz Maria felt until she accepted her identity despite others’ prejudices.

Everyone waited for her birth with great excitement. “The third one will not fail, ” said the soon-to-be father as if he was about to win a trophy. He already had two daughters and felt that it was time to have a boy in the family.

They moved one of the girls into the room of the other one. The room that was left empty was painted blue according to the tradition: blue for boys; pink for girls. They filled up the drawers with boy’s clothing and decorated the walls with posters of trains, cars and airplanes. They also bought small soldiers, a soccer ball, and a water gun. It seemed as if instead of giving birth to a baby, they were planning to adopt a child already walking.

Every day, the father took time to speak with the yet unborn child. He read the child stories about Popeye while still in the womb. “If you eat spinach, you will develop muscles and grow strong like your dad.” “Something deep inside tells me that you will break many women’s hearts when you grow up.”

In the small town where she was born, the more women that men took to bed, the more “macho” they were in the eyes of others, and were even idolized. Ironically, the opposite was true for women. “Only a whore dates many men and opens her legs before getting married,” said the elders.

When at last the birth came, all the aunts and cousins took turns holding the baby, although they ignored the big secret: The parents and doctors could not decide if the child was a boy or a girl. Apparently, the baby had been born with both a penis and a vagina. Although the mother was shocked, she lovingly hugged and kissed the baby. The father, on the other hand, announced with pride: “It’s a boy.” and named the baby Jesus.

When they returned home, everyone celebrated as if a king had arrived. Overwhelmed with joy, they started to plan Jesus’ destiny. “My nephew is going to be a farmer.” “No,” his mother replied, “He will be a veterinarian.” “Something tells me that my son will grow to become the mayor of the town,” said his father.

All became disappointed as every year Jesus was growing further away from living up to their expectations. He was often found wearing his sisters’ scarfs and high heels. He walked as if his hips flirted with the wind. And many times his heart was broken by the rejection of special friends. His dad, feeling shame, used to hit him while he exclaimed “Gay…Fag.”

When Jesus turned 15, his dad was concerned that his son never had a girlfriend. So as a birthday present, he took him to a bar to drink his first beers, and to a brothel where Jesus had his first sexual experience with a woman. They never talked about the incident or how Jesus felt, but that evening he heard his dad say “Woman, tonight our son finally became a man.”

When Jesus turned 18, he moved to Houston, Texas. For over seven years he did not reply to the letters that his mother had sent to his P.O. box, except when he learned that his dad had pancreatitis. Jesus spent all his savings to pay for the surgery that saved his dad’s life.

That same year, a Christmas card arrived with a new address. The card said: “I hope everyone is healthy.” “Merry Christmas!” It was signed, “Luz María.” Nobody understood why he signed that name, but the agony of not seeing him for such a long time, motivated his mother to pay him a visit without warning.

The mother was surprised to see who opened the door. It was a beautiful and elegant woman. The mother fainted. When she recovered, Luz María confessed in tears that she had always felt like a woman.

“I grew up filled with pain as a result of the rejection from my dad, family and school friends. I was confused and did not know who I really was. Every day I wore guilt, resentment and self-hatred.

“Later in life my hate turned against Dad for not accepting me for who I was, and against you for remaining quiet while his insults and physical abuse reminded me that he always wanted me to be a boy. That is why I left home. I wanted to run from my past and the pain caused by his mistreatment and lack of love.

“With time and distance I realized that I always knew who I was, but I had to learn to accept and love myself first in order for others to do the same. I no longer resent you, or Dad, or even society. I learned to forgive people’s ignorance, to claim my rights, and I found inner peace.

“I am Luz María, a beautiful woman inside and out! I have feelings, fears and dreams. I cry, laugh, and fall in love. I am a woman and a human being, with my own light. I deserve to be respected and loved, just like everybody else!

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About the author

Laura Figueroa

Laura was born in Guatemala and immigrated to the US at age 21 to redesign her life from the bottom-up. Her first jobs in this country included housekeeping and babysitting until she learned the language. Eventually she went back to school and earned a BA in Psychology at California State University and an MBA at Walden University. Laura has worked in the HIV field in different capacities and with people from diverse backgrounds since 1996. First with LA Shanti as Programs Manager and then with John Snow Incorporated in Colorado where she provided capacity building for several ASOs in the Midwest and conducted HIV national trainings. She also did independent consulting work and motivational speaking, Prior to joining Gilead she worked at Boheringer Ingelheim for 2 ½ years, first as Community Liaison and later as HIV National Accounts Manager. Laura is a columnist for xQsí Magazine and a contributing writer to the book Gathering Round the Fire.

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  • Tory Topjian

    As always – such an inspiring story Laura …

  • Alejandra & Johanna

    What a touching story….and just how amazing the universe has all of connected,
    Minutes before reading your story, together, my 13 year old daughter and I were having a discussion on homophobia, and talking about children like Luz Maria.
    It is truly a beautiful story, thank you Laura!

    • Laura Figueroa

      Thank you Alejandra & Johanna. There is so much message in this story, and so much that can be learned from it. I am glad you two enjoyed it, and even more I like the fact that you can have open discussions about sexuality.

  • Laura Figueroa

    Thank you Tory. It is always a pleasure to hear from you my friend.