Near-Death Experience Results In Gay Man Coming Out

by Christhian Escobar

I’m Cristhian Escobar, I’m from Nicaragua, raised in New York City. And for the first few years of my life, I was separated from my mom and my dad as a result of being born in a civil war.

Years later at the age of 5 I moved to New York with my grandmother, with my grandfather and I remember getting off the plane at JFK and my grandmother pointing to a woman, my grandfather pointing to a man, and then saying, “That’s your mom. That’s your dad.”

And me going like, “Okay. I don’t know these people. I guess they’re my parents?”

It felt awkward. It felt weird. And it was getting in the way of me nurturing a deeper, more loving relationship with this woman that I see at the airport that I call my mom. I run up to them and I hug them and we of course go home and we began our relationship in this country as immigrants with my mom and my dad and soon-to-be my little sister. But that awkwardness, that weirdness that I felt as I child seeing them at the airport, I think remained for a very long time with me. And I think it was really affirmed and I think amplified the more it became clearer to me that I was different, that I had something that I really couldn’t share with my mom.

Thirteen years ago, I was in San Juan, Puerto Rico, working on a movie. This was a lifelong dream after working in magazine publishing, and here I was working with a woman that was formerly in jail and was making a movie about the Independista movement in Puerto Rico. And here I am helping this woman work on something that was very important for her. She had a son right around the time she got arrested and sent to jail and never really forged a relationship with her son.

It’s a beautiful sunset and we’re scouting a scene for a shoot later on that weekend. And just like any other scouting for a scene, we’re looking around, we’re getting on top of things, we’re scouting out different angles. And as I’m immersing myself in this beautiful view, the ground beneath me falls apart and disintegrates. I can’t move. There was concrete everywhere. I felt like my legs were paralyzed and all I see is the person next to me, Dilcia, the woman who I was there working with, working on the movie for, with blood gushing out of her, the cinematographer all the way in the catacombs, and honestly all I could think of was, “I’m not out to my mom. I’m not out to my dad.”

I am trapped inside of a tomb and just the sight of death, the smell of death. After being on the cliff seeing something so beautiful, the contrast was just very, very intense. And so a lot of these thoughts about my family, here I am in another Latin American country. I haven’t really dealt with my Latin American heritage, I haven’t dealt with my sexuality, my mom doesn’t really know me. I don’t want to be buried alive without really knowing who I am and without sharing with others who I really am, especially my mom.

After I pulled myself out from the concrete, after I got myself out of the tomb, it was very, very clear that the movie was going to be in hiatus. It wasn’t going to happen. And so I called my mom that very night and I said, “Look. I have to come home. This movie is not going to happen. Can I move back home?”

And so I moved back home and so I knew that when I moved back home to New York about a week later, I was going to have to make efforts to be more honest with my mom. And so when I went back home to New York, I sat down with my mom, I sat down with my dad and it just came out. I just told them, “Look, I like men. I have always liked men. I don’t know if I like women anymore.”

And so my mom was very matter-of-fact. It was actually very easy coming out to her. She just looked at me, she leaned in, she’s like, “I love you. I don’t care. I already knew. No, I mean, seriously, I already knew.”

My dad was there and he’s like, “Whatever.”

When thinking of a young, Latin man in either the hood or in Latin America that may not have an environment where it’s safe possibly to come out, all I will say is that it’s a lot scarier to not live authentically than to live authentically. I didn’t need a near-death experience to realize that my mom was going to love me regardless. I was lucky. She did, but I tortured myself for far too long because of my own neuroses. So I would say, love yourself. It has to begin with you and your ability to respect yourself and take care of yourself.

Sharing your story can change someone's life. Interested in learning more?