Latina Moms Talk About Their LGBT Kids for “Tres Gotas de Agua”

I came out to my mother in a car. In her car.

It was a really stupid but also perfect location, because it made the process much shorter. My mom and I have a lot in common. We love to talk. And when the talking had ceased and only tears were present, I opened the car door and left it all in the past. We talked about it via email a little bit afterward. I cried in coffee shops and in my friend Josh Little’s arms. She brought it up at Christmastime. We screamed at each other. I cried on video chat and got into a habit of watching The Darjeeling Limited on repeat up to three times a night.

See my Mother has always loved me. She loved me when I wanted to be an actress, and then when I wanted to be a politician, and even when I said I liked motorcycles. She loved me even when I struggled in school, or when my boss fired me (this has only happened once, for the record). She’ll put herself on the line for me.

I came out to my mother in her car ’cause I’d never kept any secrets from her before. I had this fantasy that we’d frolic together in gardens, me in my lace-up boots with my loving, accepting, totally into my lifestyle, gay-people-loving mom. But it didn’t go like that fantasy.

When I came out to my mother, there were no hugs, tears, musical duets or PFLAG brochures. There was a little of this:

“No, this isn’t true. This isn’t you. You’re my daughter; I know this isn’t you.”

And a little of this:

“Anne Heche…”

My response was anger, and frustration. “How can you love me if you don’t love who I am?”

My mother, however, never ceased loving me. She asked me why I’d stopped coming home. She called me to see how I was. She asked what I was doing. I never knew how to respond, or what it meant. I asked the same question. I was unwilling to accept her silence. I wanted my mom to talk to me about being gay. Why could she talk to me about everything else?

“How can you love me if you don’t love who I am?”

“Because I will always love you. No matter what.”

Tres Gotas de AguaThree Drops of Water – is a series of interviews with three Latina moms with LGBT kids. The video is backed by Somos Familia, an organization hoping to spark discussions on homosexuality within Latino communities and end stereotypes and negative attitudes toward LGBT people there. Because “a drop of water wears away a stone.” Because every mom who loves her gay child is a mom on the right side of our struggles.

In the interviews, the women talk about a range of complex emotions and reactions to their children coming out: confusion about what it means to be gay, a slow journey to fighting for gay rights, and even the often turbulent attitudes toward LGBT people in their own community.

And of course they talk mostly about love.

Since coming out to my mother in her car, we’ve only had a handful of conversations about my sexuality. Mostly we talk about other things, like what I need, and where I’m moving, and how she might be getting me a dog.  She still loves me, even though the fear and confusion.

There came a moment, eventually, when I stopped being indignant about coming out. I realized that even if the ideal situation-  one where being gay doesn’t even matter, or one where being gay is okay at least, or one where nobody is actually surprised (I was ready for this one when I sat down in the car) – wasn’t what I was getting, it didn’t mean she was done loving me or being in my life. It scared her, maybe, and not because she’s ignorant or hates gay people, but because she wants to keep me well and wants to know who I am and suddenly I was something new.

So I’ve begun to see coming out as a process, and not as an action. Just as I’d needed time to realize that my love for women was, well, a love for women, my Mom needed time to understand what I was talking about. She needed longer than a twenty-minute car ride to comprehend what her twenty-year-old daughter had just told her.

This video, a preview of the other interviews you can watch on their youtube page, inspires me to keep doing that, to move forward and accept my mother’s unconditional love. I hope it does the same to you, because I have to get up to get the Kleenex:

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Colorlines Magazine covered Tres Gotas de Agua and had this to say about coming out to your mother. It rings true, still:

It goes without saying, but it can be challenging to care for what you don’t know. Trying to comprehend the abstract usually means relating it to something that you are familiar with, and if a connection can’t be made, taking a stance that’s already been paved is so often easier than formulating a unique opinion.

Coming out is scary because, as we all know or at least are familiar with, people think they understand you from the outside. You, a gay person. My mother told me she “had seen gay people on TV,” and that I couldn’t be gay because I wasn’t like them. It’s logic like that that keeps people safe. It keeps people inside of their comfort zones and their spheres of comprehension, lets them feel like they’ve seen it all and there are no more surprises. And sometimes we have to break free of that box to learn how to celebrate the things we’re so often afraid of. You did it when you came out. Your mother does it by loving you.

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Carmen spent six years at Autostraddle, ultimately serving as Straddleverse Director, Feminism Editor and Social Media Co-Director. She is now the Consulting Digital Editor at Ms. and writes regularly for DAME, the Women’s Media Center, the National Women’s History Museum and other prominent feminist platforms; her work has also been published in print and online by outlets like BuzzFeed, Bitch, Bust, CityLab, ElixHER, Feministing, Feminist Formations, GirlBoss, GrokNation, MEL, Mic and SIGNS, and she is a co-founder of Argot Magazine. You can find Carmen on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr or in the drive-thru line at the nearest In-N-Out.

Carmen has written 919 articles for us.


  1. Pingback: Latina Moms Talk About Their LGBT Kids for “Tres Gotas de Agua” – Autostraddle | Snow Boots For Children

  2. Hi Carmen,

    I was really moved by the video (the full version on YouTube) and I wanted to say thank you for sharing it, and your own story. I really appreciated your insightful and hopeful analysis of this complicated and painful situation. I hope that your mother will end up feeling similarly to these women.

    April Q.

    • Oh, and I meant to say that I, also, came out to my mother in her car. It went pretty well, though it was kinda awkward.

  3. This brought drops of waters to my eyes. Even though this isn’t my culture, it’s reassuring to see mothers so supportive. I don’t know if I’ll ever come out to my family, but this video has made me think about it some more. Thanks, Carmen.

  4. Esto se lo voy a mostrar a mi mamá, definitivamente
    Está un poco “traumatizada” todavía

    Thanks for this

  5. Thanks for sharing these, Carmen! So wonderful.

    I also came out to my mom in the car. I think it helps that when you’re both seated in a car, you’re facing forward instead of looking directly at the other person, so it’s less intimidating somehow. Plus I knew my mom would try to avoid the conversation, so being in the car kinda forced her to sit and listen.

    Of course, the rest of the ride was pretttty uncomfortable…

  6. i came out in the car too! is this a near universal lesbian experience, like plaid and alternate lifestyle haircuts?

    • I have theory about this. The most difficult conversations I had with my mum were all in the car as well. It’s because you’re stuck in that tiny space together, yet don’t stare eachother directly in the eye, which makes it easier to say something difficult. And there’s a natural space for silence in a conversation in the car. In my experience, a silence in the car after one’s heavy anouncement isn’t as bad as a silence when facing each other over tea at the kitchen table.

      Taking a walk together also works, for the same reason.

  7. i never had a real coming out, my mom asked who i was dating, i told her, and she asked if it was a boy or a girl (i had dated both before) and i told her a girl, and she asked something about how if this was a permanent thing, and i said yeah.

    and i was on the phone, in my car. if that counts.

    she didn’t say anything then, but apparently at the family christmas party she cried a lot. and she does it when she gets drunk and thinks about it. but i made her read ellen degeneres’s mom’s book, and she got better. now she calls me to tell me she saw adam’s story on degrassi and she was crying over how hard trans* people have it, and how it’s not fair because it’s not their fault.

    she’s grown up so fast.

  8. I came out to my parents in a car, while my father was driving on a major highway in nj. Maybe not to safest way to come out but it worked . . . I guess.

  9. :’) Oh Jesus this struck a chord.

    My girlfriend and I have said we wanted to start something like this for Hispanic parents. It makes me happy thinking of all the difference this group can have on the Hispanic community.

    Thanks for this.

  10. I’m Spanish, so is my mom. I came out when i was 15, so my mother had 15 years to imagine what my life would be like, to imagine what i would be like. And has spent a year to readjust to me, she has no idea what my life will be like. And that is frightening.

    When i started reading this, it reminded me of the hell i and my mother went through all of last year when i came out to her. What i failed to realize at the time was just how hard it must have been (and still somewhat is) for her. It’s all a process, a slow process towards understanding.Now, now she even asks me when am i gonna meet a nice girl…

  11. Thank you for this Carmen. <3 It helps.
    I also came out in my mom's car too her because I couldn't stand to keep it secret from her.
    I live the "how can you love me if you don't love who I am" daily. I've actually told flatly when she's said she loves me that she, "loves the idea of me, her youngest daughter, but it's not actually ME she loves" because it's gotten so frustrating at times, which is the wrong way to handle it. I know she's still trying to get her mind around it, and she does care & it's not easy for her to understand and accept it because while it's been clear an obvious to me for years, it hasn't been to her. So we'll work together and hearing about it from another helps. Thank you again Carmen.

  12. Pingback: 3 Madres latinas hablando sobre sus hijos LGBT | Lesbicanarias

  13. I’m glad I found this article. I think it will at some point help me, help my mom understand who I am. Thanks!!

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