LGBT History Month: Jackie Mendoza

To celebrate LGBT History Month, we've asked a group of queer musicians to pen essays and share stories that reflect this years theme: Peace, Activism and Reconciliation.

My queerness was my best kept secret until May 8th, 2017, the day I came out to my family. I grew up in a conservative environment both in school and at home, where coming out never seemed like an option. My family was a very traditional Mexican family; we went to church every Sunday and my parents behaved according to their very specific and predefined gender roles. When I was younger, we used to go to evangelical group meetings. I’d hide from the pastors because I thought God would tell them I was bisexual, and that they in turn would tell my parents. Repressing this part of my identity made me sad and reclusive for a very long time. As much as I tried, I couldn’t fit into the religious setting because I felt ashamed and invalidated.

In high school I started doing musical theatre, and since then I’ve been able to express myself best through music. I became surrounded by people who uplifted and accepted each other; we sang and danced until our voices gave out and our parents picked us up from rehearsals. Years later, fast forward to now, I have more energy and enthusiasm about singing and writing songs than I did throughout school.

I came out in the summer of 2017 when I moved back to San Diego from New York. The first thing I did was sit my family down in the living room and I told them I had a girlfriend. They were speechless at first but were incredibly supportive and loving, and the conversation ended in laughter and hugs. I set up my digital camera and recorded the entire thing. I couldn’t believe how relieved I felt; I had finally introduced the real me to my family. Since then, I’ve been able to speak more openly about myself and my relationship, and I’ve grown closer to my parents and siblings. The elephant in the room that only I could see was no longer there.

"De Lejos" by Jackie Mendoza

I thought coming out to my family would be the hardest part, I didn’t think coming out on social media would have a negative response. On Lucia and I’s first anniversary, I posted a picture on my Instagram— to this day people still argue about same-sex marriage on that post. A lot of people unfollowed me, some left rude comments, and others tagged my mom and asked “How can you let her be this way?” I was shocked to see how many people still thought this way. I realised it was my responsibility to be more vocal about my identity in order to work against homophobia and discrimination. If someone spews hate, I block them. If someone genuinely tries to make an argument because it’s all they’ve been taught, I let conversations unfold – that’s how people learn. LGBTQ+ rights have expanded in Mexico and attitudes are changing. When I started producing my own songs, I realised I could be the person I wanted to see in music. I wanted to be a person Latin queer people could relate to, because I know I really needed that when growing up. In 2013, when I started making beats and recording songs, I read more about female producers and DJs, some of whom were also queer. I then began to see another purpose in my love for making music. I can break stereotypes and invite people to celebrate diversity both in musical genres and personal identities. I think my music is a good representation of who I am and I rediscover my freedom of expression every single day. Being a queer Mexican female feels like having many super powers, I hope I can make people like me realise their own powers too.

 

To find out more about LGBT History Month, click here. 

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