Respect Street - It's a Two-Way Road that Family Should Travel Together

I've been watching Love, Victor. It's a series on Hulu in the universe of the movie Love, Simon, which is a hit movie about a teenager's journey to coming out as gay. 

Love, Victor stars a Latino family with a teenage boy who is trying to figure out his sexual identity. He knows he's attracted to boys, but finds that he is also attracted to girls. His family is very traditional and Catholic, so Victor is afraid they will not accept him. 

I love shows/movies like this because not only is queer representation in media so important, but also because I identify with the characters so much. While my parents aren't particularly religious, my grandparents are, and image is very important to them. 

In the episode I'm currently watching (season 1, episode 5), Victor's grandparents come to visit for his 16th birthday. His mom is in panic mode because her mother-in-law is always incredibly judgmental of her every move. Victor invites his girlfriend, friends, and the boy he has a crush on to the birthday party at his home with his family. The crush brings his boyfriend. 

When this couple first enters their home, Victor introduces them to his abuelo (grandfather) as a coworker and the coworker's band-mate, knowing Abuelo will not approve if he introduces them as a couple. The couple are visibly shaken and uncomfortable. No one likes being shoved back in the closet! 

Victor sends one of his friends to the store to buy a tres leches cake, because his mother made a mistake with hers and knows Abuela (grandmother) will judge her for it. 

Just as the friends arrive with the new cake, Abuelo sees the male teenage couple kissing. He of course disapproves, mentions it to Victor's father, and Victor's father tells him that he must tell his friends it is not okay to do that here. 

Here's the part that gave me chills and inspired this post: 

Victor says "No. Those are my friends. I'm not going to tell them not to be who they are if that bothers you. That's your problem - not theirs, and not mine." 


Abuela says "Is this how you teach your son to talk to his abuelo?" Victor's mom says "Yeah it is. I raised him to be true to himself and to stand up for the people he cares about. And since we're being true to ourselves, my tres lehes cake was garbage, so I threw it out. Not that it would have impressed you anyway." 


I'm tired of sitting idly by and not defending myself out of respect for my elders. Respect is a two-way street. After a lifetime of showing respect to my parents and grandparents, if they can't do the same for me, they no longer deserve that respect. 

I'm tired of hiding in the closet around family just because it makes them uncomfortable. As Victor said, that's their problem, not mine. They need to address their bias and bigotry. And if they don't like it, I don't need to be around them. (Easier said that done, amirite?!)

And the next time my dad criticizes my cooking or the gifts I give him, I'll tell him where he can shove that pork chop or t-shirt. The next time my mom says "I never would have done that with you and your sister," or "your room was never allowed to get that messy when you were a kid," I'll point out that I don't have to do everything exactly as she did, she did things that I would never do, and my kids are turning out perfectly fine. 

Okay... I probably won't. But I have stopped bothering giving my dad gifts and cooking for him because I know that no matter how much effort I put into it, it's not going to be good enough. It's a start. 

I love my family so much. I appreciate everything they've done for me immensely. But I'm also tired of feeling like nothing I do is ever good enough, and who I am isn't acceptable. 


And if they do, found family is better. 

Back to Victor and his family - Abuela's response to all this is to say it's hard for them, that's all. Everything is changing, this isn't the world they grew up in. They feel like everything that matters to them is disappearing. Then in a conversation with Victor's girlfriend (the girlfriend called out the mom for being so cold towards her), Victor's mom says she swore to herself a thousand times she would never be like her mother-in-law, then the first time her son brings a girlfriend home, she's cold as ice. She tells Victor's girlfriend that she's sorry, and she'll do better. 

This is growth! This family has addressed their issues, learned from their mistakes, and grown closer for it! 

God how I'd love to experience that! 

At the end of the episode, Victor's father tells him he's proud of him for standing up to his grandfather. He says "What business is it of mine what some boys at your school are up to? I just hope your little brother doesn't turn out... that way." Then he says "I love you" and leaves the room. 

Uuuuugggghhhh we were so close to having such a sublime family experience! And of course, instead of standing up to his father and saying "I might be that way," or "That completely contradicts the lessons we've learned today," Victor says "I love you, too," and nothing else. He just sits there with a disappointed, pensive look on his face. 

I feel you, Victor. This is all so hard. But, he's created the stepping stones, so that's a start. 

Now it's my turn. 

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash


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