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Milagros, Retablos and Arte Popular TRADING COMPANY FOLK ART & OTHER TREASURES FROM AROUND THE WORLD 209 CONGRESS AVEAUSTIN 512/479-8377 OPEN DAILY 10-6, FREE PARKING BEHIND THE STORE www.tesoros.corn SOME DAYS I LIKE TO IMAGINE THAT THERE’S A GREAT BIG MEXICAN BODA IN MY FUTURE WITH A LONG LIST OF PADRINOS shirt that read Silencio =Muerte. In the spring of 1993, we drove to the gay rights march on Washingtonone of the largest civil rights marches in our nation’s historyand walked with the Houston contingent with its rainbow and lone-star flags. As I marched among hundreds of thousands of men and women, I realized that it was the first time I could really take pride in myself. Growing up along the Rio Grande, there was no such thing as gay pride. Then again, there wasn’t much pride in anything when you lived on the border and were born workingclass, poor and brown. We lived in a corridor of isolation and oppression. After Houston came New York. Blame had applied to film school. For his portfolio, he created a storyboard for a film on gay marriage, using the black and white snapshots he’d taken on our trip to Monterrey, Mexico, where he’d become fascinated by the beaded gowns in the windows of the downtown bridal shops. In New York, we broke upover and over again. Then one day he left the city for Miami. He’s been moving around ever since. Some days I like to imagine that there’s a great big Mexican boda in my future, with a long list of padrinos to help pay for everything from the matrimonial pillows to the salted peanuts served with the pan de polvo. With not just one, but two good-looking grooms held high in the chilled air of the local Catholic War Veterans Hall. Other days, I don’t know if I will ever get married. I want to, but love is hard, whoever and wherever you decide to love. On my lonelier nights, I call my mother in Texas to complain about living alone and wonder aloud when I will ever find anyone. One recent night she shushed me, telling me that it took time finding the right man. “Not those guys in the bars or clubs who only want the sex,” she explained. “What do you want them for? To get a disease no mas? Or, like these young girls, jovencitas who sleep with qualquiera, making them dumb by saying that he loves them and leaves them pregnant? Those guys are nothing but sin vergiienzas.” Not long ago, a young cousin of mine announced to everyone that she might be a lesbian and was dating a girl from her high school. My mother was later relieved to hear that a qualquiera got her pregnant at age 16. So much for sin verguenzas. A teenage single mom seemed more acceptable than a lesbian. And maybe I’ve accepted the idea of single parenthood as well, because even if I don’t get married, I still want kids. My mom seems thrilled, too, until I remind her that I am gay. “So what?” she huffs. “Get married and have your kids with your wife and have your lover on the side.” She claims a lot of people do that. It’s that sad life “on the down low” that I never wanted to live. When I tell her we could wait until my moody brother gets hitched, she complains, “Who’s gonna want to marry him con ese bad attitu’e?” My brother has been single for so long that she wonders whether he might be gay, too. He isn’t. My brother just hasn’t found the right girl. Whether he does or he doesn’t, I’d just like to be sure that I, too, could take my time to find the man for me. I’d also like to think that I could count on my family to reject Proposition 2, the proposed constitutional amendment that Texas voters will be deciding on November 8. We don’t talk about politics much. In the last election my parents voted foras my mother says in her tejano accent”Butch.” She explains that he was going to win anyway, so they just decided to “throw away” their vote. Or so she says. I don’t know for sure if she was misinformed or afraid to tell me the truth. As much as my parents love me in private, they don’t approve of my being public about “you know what.” They don’t have the courage to come out of the closet as parents of a gay son. I know this because for a long time I didn’t have the courage to come out either. That’s one way of surviving, I suppose. But It’s Not Right, and It’s No Longer OK. Born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley, Erasmo Guerra is a writer in New York. OCTOBER 21, 2005 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 31