NOLA Road Trip: No Dirty Looks
On her first day of summer, Big J drew a 5’x5’ table of the 30 colleges she plans to apply for in the fall.Since I came into the girl’s life almost 8 years ago as their Ama, I have been encouraging both of them to aim as far as they possibly can, and more specifically to go out of state for college! There are so many worlds out there and I believe that this is the best time for them to experience other ways of life, culture, traditions, customs and environments.Plus, I believe there is no better way to love home then to be able to see it from afar.
Big J is 17 years old and about to start her senior year in high school.Her college application chart was drawn out on a tattered piece of brown butcher paper with the application deadlines, essay topics, locations, tuition costs, and in red, the scribbled words, “yes” or “no” under the column titled LGBTQ organization.When it was all done, J pinned the poster to her side of the bedroom wall beside her “Books not bombs” bumper sticker and pin ups of Harry Potter’s Hermione Granger and actor Keanu Reaves.Both of the girls are constantly surprising us with their out of the universe imagination, self-motivation, undying generosity to the community and intellectual euphemisms!I like to think I have done all the work at guiding both of them, but I know damn well it has been a team effort between Erika and I, curating all of our family activities in such a way that the world acts as their classroom.Even down to buying local, minimizing television, and preserving the magic of taking a walk in the park, Erika and I take advantage of every single opportunity we have to teach our daughters a way of life completely separate from what our mainstream media has already fed them via facebook, twitter, pinterest, commercials, or fashion magazines.
After Big J’s giant college poster making, Erika and I decided we needed to nurture her dreams even more.We turned our family vacation into a college visit to New Orleans, visiting University of Houston, Rice, Louisiana State University, Tulane, Loyola, Xavier and the University of New Orleans. My prima, the other lesbiana in my family (Big J and Baby K’s Tia) lives in NOLA with her partner. It is important to us that we also spend time with other lesbiana friends and family, to offer our girls safe spaces where being daughters of two lesbianas isn’t the usual freak show they are used to performing in the heteronormative circus called youth! Also, meeting more real life lesbian women debunk the negative and/or inaccurate lesbian stereotypes constantly bombarding them, from the mouth of pop culture in literature, education, television and the cliché yet poignant – peer pressure.
True story During one of their many coming out moments as children of gay parents, Big J’s friend responded with, “Wow, you have two moms! Are they like vegetarians,” as if we would automatically fall into the white lesbian stereotype made popular by the tv show Portlandia. Now, I am not saying that being stereotyped white or vegetarian is negative but it is so not who her mexicana lesbiana mamis are. We are artists, activists, degreed, Buddhist, playful, professional, and most importantly lovers of the backyard asada (barbeque)!Luckily, Jessica knows about stereotype and has a quick-witted head on her shoulders. She responded to her friend, “Really? Really? We are Latinas, it’s like against our religion to not eat meat!”This is one of the sillier experiences our girls have had, but nonetheless a real experience. Many of their girlfriend’s parents won’t allow their daughters to spend the night or go to our family functions.The look on their parent’s eyes when Erika and I introduce ourselves as “their moms,” reminds me of the way people stare through windows at their neighbors across the street when they suspect something is going wrong.
In New Orleans, no one stared or gave us looks. Our trip was spent sharing delicious meals, having huge laugh-fests, walking miles and miles across college campuses, and being part of the New Orleans Pride family event with our cousin, a successful labor rights activist and federal agent, and her partner who just this May was part of the first graduating class who started at Tulane after Katrina. (She will be entering Tulane Law on a full academic scholarship in the fall, also!)
Big J and Baby K saw themselves in the faces of the students walking in droves at each college summer orientation and in the smiles of the lgbtq families of New Orleans. We are very happy about our summer vacation!
Stay tuned for our College Tuition Kickstarter campaign. One year at Tulane or Loyola is $100,000!
Unless of course, Ellen DeGeneres decides to have a “Fall Days of School Pay,” offering scholarships to children of lesbian parents, after her “Summer Days of Giveaways!” She is a New Orleans native, after all, and makes quite a few cameos at the Tulane graduations!