The Happiest Place On Earth

Some names in the essay have been changed.

This post was originally written in 2017 and republished in 2021

Illustration by Sarah Sarwar

It was Christmas Day and we were somewhere between New Mexico and Arizona. I sat in the backseat of my family’s gold Expedition staring out the window at the winter desert. I'd thought once the semester was over, this whole mess would dissipate and I'd be able to breathe. I'd kept telling myself just make it to December — once you’re with your family, everything will be ok. But it was December and I was in a car with my family on our way to Disneyland and I still felt a heaviness in my chest. My dad was driving, my mom was dozing off, my sister was fast asleep on her neck pillow and my brother was fidgeting with his iPod; I was grateful to get away.

Instead of doing the whole Christmas thing — lights, tree, festivities, presents — my family decided to put that money into a Disneyland vacation. Ever since I can remember, it’s been a tra...

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Yvonne S. Marquez is a lesbian journalist and former Autostraddle senior editor living in Dallas, TX. She writes about social justice, politics, activism and other things dear to her queer Latina heart. Yvonne was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter. Read more of her work at

Yvonne has written 207 articles for us.