New York State Youth Leadership Council

Living With Strangers


Sep 11


Dear Angy,

I’m a queer undocumented youth. I just found out that my father is queer and my mother is in the closet about it.

Apparently, he had a year long affair with a man before I was even born. He came back to my mom, begging and pleading because he wanted to be a “family man.” But since then, he has had other dalliances. My parents are still married.

My mom didn’t bother to tell me this till this past weekend and only because she didn’t want me to cuss her out after her death. But she doesn’t really want to talk or do anything about it.

I’ve had a dysfunctional family unit in my house since we came to this country 12 years ago. My parents are legal residents who live in the same house but they barely talk to each other and when they do, they are always fighting. I always thought that my gayness or lack of legal status was a cause for the tension in the home. My father used to beat me up and disowned me at 16 for being gay after school counselors discovered the abuse and called the cops on him. But it was my mom that tried to defend or protect me from the abuse and she is the only one who supports me. My father and I don’t have a relationship — we’ve barely spoken two words to each other since I was 16. I am almost 27 now.

I asked my sister to confirm certain facts and all she could say was “I thought you knew.”

What am I supposed to do? I can fix the problems in my house while I’m here for the summer but I also feel very angry, hurt and betrayed. My mom says she loves me despite my defective genes, which I also find offensive. My father’s sexual orientation would only be my mother’s business, but at the point where he turned all his anger, sexual repression and hurt towards me as a teenager, I feel extremely let down by my entire family. I’m also in removal proceedings.

What do you suggest I do?


Thanks for your E-mail and for speaking out about these things, your status and being queer, that are seen as taboo. Because in reality they affect us in different and similar ways. Let’s break it up into parts.

About your removal proceeding, you didn’t give much information about that so I am not sure where it stands now. I think you should work with an immigration professional on this issue; I can’t give legal advice. If all is lost and there is no way of getting help and you are being deported for sure we do have the Education Not Deportation (END) campaigns which basically are used to stop these. I believe I signed your petition before; I’m not sure.

Regarding your father, you mention you don’t have a relationship and I was unclear if you want to build one or not. But, there is the possibility of rebuilding that relationship; it will be very difficult. If both of you do decide to try to build a relationship I suggest doing so through a counselor, or another kind of professional, because the abuse, both mental and physical, isn’t something one can easily move on from. There’s a lot of hurt and grudges in the way that keep the relationship from working.

It’s impossible to expect our parents to come out publicly about things like sexual orientation or immigration status, the way we do, because of their upbringing, generation and many other factors. I bring this back to my status; I’ve come out publicly but my mother refuses to and I respect that. She has come out on her own time, terms and way. It is an individual choice to come out, both undocumented and/or queer, and no one should be forced to. It’s hard. Of course, some may never come out at all and they’ll choose to live their life without that being at the forefront. Everyone is different. Your father and mother must have their reasons for keeping this hidden.

Some fathers just don’t stick around to be fathers. Families aren’t always going to be the way they are on TV. Do you feel you can continue to survive without your father? If both of you decide not to build the relationship at all, that’s fine too but at least try to forgive, it will do you good. It takes courage and time to forgive. Understand that the abuse wasn’t your fault regardless of what has been thrown at you. You’re valuable no matter what others say about your status or sexual orientation. Remember to forgive yourself before forgiving others.

Despite your mother’s offensive comments it’s obvious that she cares about you in her own way. It may not be how you’ve envision love to be, but there’s something there that others do not have. Sexual orientation is a topic that’s very difficult for some parents to accept or understand no matter how much you try to explain it to them. Forcing it on them isn’t going to make them comprehend any better. The harsh truth is that she may never understand at all even after countless articles, books and conversations with you. I do hope a level of tolerance can be reached. This also takes time and lots of patience. If there’s some kind of support group for families, it would be nice for both of you to assist together or separately. If she talks with other parents that have queer children she may be able to see things differently. Your views and hers don’t really sync. Parents relate with other parents better sometimes.

If there is something I’ve learned throughout the past months is that we are living with strangers. No matter how long you’ve known your parents or siblings there are things about them you may never know and will surprise you if you ever find out. I’m sure there’s other things your mom, father and/or sister may not be telling you. It’s something we will learn to live with. We can’t expect that our parents will confide every last secret in us because I don’t think we confide everything in them. I believe that in the end parents can’t really be friends.

In my opinion, it may be very difficult for you to fix issues at home when there’s some things going on internally. I suggest working with Prerna first. :)

Email or fill out this form with any questions, concerns, comments or just your own story. This is a space to let it all out! You don’t have to bottle it up inside. Whatever you write is up to you and you will not be judged. Your stories and worries matter! You are not alone. Remember, the insecurities and fears you have, someone else is them having too. Don’t be afraid to speak out.

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The views expressed by the author on this post do not necessarily reflect the views of the New York State Youth Leadership Council (NYSYLC)