Hello. My name is Luis and I’m from Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.
My mother was intermittently present. She used to live in a different city. My father wasn’t around or was never present in my life, so I got to live with my grandma. I have to say that my grandma is a wonderful person because I had all my needs met. With her I had a roof, I had food. When I was sick, she used to take care of me. But I didn’t have any emotional support because she’s the person that… she’s not a loving person, let’s just say that. I remember one time when I was just laying around in the house and all of a sudden she started yelling at me and she was just telling me to go away, that I should disappear or that I should go back to my mom. It left a lot of scars because I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere.
I didn’t have any support. I didn’t have any person that I could talk to about my problems, about the issues that I was having in my house and about all the things that I was feeling inside. I got to a point where I needed to talk to someone and I needed to express myself, because it was eating me inside out. The closest person that I had was a friend who was a neighbor and we used to hang a lot. And I saw that he was different.
I remember that I approached him and I told him, “Hey, there’s something I need to tell you.” And then I started crying.
And then all of a sudden, he was like, “Why are you crying? What is the matter?”
He got worried and I told him, like, “Hey, I’m gay.”
And then he said, “Don’t worry about it. I am, too.” And then we started laughing and and ever since, we became best friends.
I remember a time where my grandmother forbid me to see him because there were comments around the community that he was gay and that I shouldn’t be hanging with gay people. I stopped seeing him for awhile just to avoid conflict with my family, but at the end of the day, that didn’t break up a relationship and we’re still best friends.
When I moved to college, I’ve found more friends that were like me. They were all gay. I used to hang with them with – I mean, going to gay bars to be free in the society because it was a bigger city and people didn’t really care much. So I’ve felt like everything I was doing in the past was actually not wrong. And I felt accepted.
I remember this time that me and my friends, we were at this bar. It was not even a gay bar. It was a straight bar. We were all acting like we didn’t care. We were all acting and being ourselves. And we didn’t care about what society thought about our behavior. And that’s where I felt like I belonged to somewhere.
I still felt like there was something missing. I still felt that all these traumas that I had when I was a kid were still eating me inside out. And that’s when I realized that I needed to start forgiving people for what they did to me. I forgave my grandma for the way she treated me when I was a kid. I forgave her without her consent. I had to do it myself for myself. I forgave my father because he’s the sad same picture as my grandma. I forgave him because he was not present. I forgave my mother because she left me at a place where I was emotionally traumatized. I forgave her because I understood when I grew up that she made the right decision because she was dealing with her own issues. So when I started practicing forgiveness, this hole started filling up with hope, with love, with self-respect. And it started filling up with positive things.
So after I forgave my family, I graduated college. They were very proud of me because I achieved a goal. I graduated from medicine. Our relationship became stronger. They have more respect for me. And things just were going in extremely good. I never came out to my grandma. I never came out to my dad or my dad’s family because of their beliefs. I know for a fact that if I come out to them, especially my grandma, that is going to cause more issues between the relationship that I already had to build up with them.
So three years ago, I moved to Philadelphia. And I am currently in a place where I feel like everything is where it needs to be. I have beautiful people around me. All my family are present, all my family are healthy. I have two beautiful daughters that I am co-parenting. They are twins. I have – like, everything in my life is where it needs to be. Forgiving my family allowed me to grow as a person, allowed me to leave that burden that I would – like, it’s like when you carry a bag and when you leave it, you’re feeling, like, relieved. That’s how I felt.
Forgiveness is a very very important tool for you to heal and for you to become a better person. I forgave my grandma. I forgave my father. I forgave my mother. I never received an apology from them. I did that for myself because I needed to heal. I needed to take all that hatred, I needed to take all that – all those negative thoughts and feelings out of my body for me to be able to be in peace.