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Pride Month 2023

  Our Love Freely Series
Standing in solidarity with our LGBTQIA+ Members and highlighting their Stories

Adoptees of South America + Extended Latin Americas celebrates Pride Month with intentional posts to encourage positive conversations about what it means to #LoveFreely in the LGBTQIA+ Adoptee Community. 

JOSELYN GERARDA WHITAKER RAE

IG @josieladiablita

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TRANSGENDER WOMAN

Pronouns: She/Her

Joselyn shares her perspective

A lot of trans phobic legislation that is being passed now is the result of misunderstanding. In fact more than 70% of transphobic people have never met a trans person before (https://www.justlikeus.org/blog/2023/03/31/trans-day-of-visibility-ally-lesbian/). A lot of people will get their ideas from biased in-person encounters, biased news sources, biased media, and biased social media. Rather than challenge their transphobic misunderstandings, these sources only affirm them.

  • Trans women lose strength due to hormone therapy and as I am now, I would pose no advantage in athletics over a cis woman.

  • Despite removing gender dysphoria from the World Health Organization’s list of mental illnesses, people still pathologize gender dysphoria as something not normal that needs to be “corrected” (https://www.bbc.com/news/health-48448804). They often confuse wanting to change your gender with a mere feeling. Some one can know that they have gender dysphoria at any age.

  • Many people think trans people are predators, but statistics show that assault is more likely to happen by a cis heterosexual man including church pastors, and anti-lgbtq legislators, but not trans people, drag queens, or lgbtq people (https://www.barcc.org/assets/pdf/Statistics_Download_-_LGBT.pdf)

  • Being trans is not just a feeling and no trans person thinks that. It is a matter of  existence and failure to affirm yourself could lead to suicide.

  • In affirming myself as a trans woman, I am rejecting the opportunity to be a part of the patriarchy and people hate that

  • Being LBGTQ flies in the face of latin american traditions and expectations. Latin American culture is filled with expectations for gender roles and the building of the traditional family unit. Many landmark life events are also very religious in nature. That’s why it’s difficult for many of us to talk about being lgbtq in our initial family reunions. But at the same time it’s necessary so that our families can have a better understanding of us. 

  • What is happening is that people are injecting their religious beliefs into legislation. I will probably not see the end of transphobia in my lifetime, but it is not up to me to tell Christians/atheists/Islam/etc how to live. I am not going to be able to control how everybody thinks, but I will never push my views as an atheist onto other people. If a Christian would like to marry the opposite sex, they can do so, if they want to have children, they can do so, but it is not up to them to force other people including myself to live according to their christian moral compass. God should be kept away from legislation, there should be a strict separation of church and state. As a result of misunderstandings and christian influence, legislation in some states of the US has been made to erase my existence. Right now it would be safer for me to live in Peru than in FL or AK right now. The anti drag laws put me in danger for the simple act of performing with my guitar to an audience of all ages. 

  • We as a community of adoptees need to come together and recognize that just as colonization has affected adoption, it has also had similar consequences for the lgbtq community. As such, our struggle to encourage the public to have a better understanding around the nuances of adoption is not so different from the struggle to encourage the public to have a better understanding on lgbtq rights and issues. 

  • I would love to see straight allies step up. As unjust as it may be, they are the ones that have clout and influence in the legislative process right now. 
     

Identity


Moving to Peru really allowed Joselyn to address her initial identity issue as being Peruvian due to her adoption. Only then was she able to address this other side of herself. These are steps she has taken to be a fuller person and to be more comfortable in her own skin. She is fortunate to have a family who supports her in her transition

For more from Joselyn scroll to down to her interview from last year.

ERIC JOSÉ-LUIS
JOHNSON-AVALOS
or Jose Luis 

@sciencebaddie

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NON-BINARY

 

Pronouns: They/Them

Have you found intersections between your adoption journey and your LGBTQ journey? In what ways do they intersect?
 

Chosen family is a theme for adoptees and queer folks. Sometimes the people we are put with, whom we have no choice over,   are the ones who do not show up for us. We often need to find these care collectives, co-pilots who can navigate the queer-adoptee-universe-🌈👽
 

What are some ways you would like to see allies stand up for the LGBTQ community?


Read queer voices! Specifically, anything from James Baldwin or ALOK. Beyond the Gender Binary by ALOK is very accessible and short reading. For James Baldwin, Literally anything. Start with Giovanni’s Room perhaps and then read Another Country and then read Go Tell it on the Mountain.Then repeat!  His themes of radical love; I can’t stop talking about this with ASA. A lot of people know me as sciencebaddie, so I recommend texts like Evolution's Rainbow by Joan Roughgarden, a text on the expansiveness of life forms in the animal kingdom. Also for social media,  follow people like @latinxnaturalist and @queerquechua

For even more about Eric José-Luis scroll down to last year's interview.

JOHN ALBERTO

IG: johns_photos_84
FB: John Alberto

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GAY MAN

Pronouns: He/Him (John says"Call me what you want, just don't be a dick")

Johns Story

- Born in Cartagena Colombia 
- Adopted out of Bogota Colombia 
- My mother was Colombian 
- My father was Brazilian and Surinamese 
- My biological name is Aalbert Yossef (Dutch origins from my Surinamese side)
- Parents bio changed it to Alberto Ceballos when given for adoption
- I am originally from Burke Virginia of way of Washington DC, Flagstaff Arizona, San Jose Costa Rica, and Monterey, Santa Cruz and Salinas California 
- I was reunited with my biological family. I was not able to meet my parents; they had been killed as had my sister and brother. 
- In 2005 I came out once I received my acceptance letter to San Francisco state university. I wanted to be free and feel myself.

 

I knew I was gay since I was 5! I knew, I felt it but it was not okay. There was still stigma toward the gay community especially since the AIDS epidemic was going on. Hate crimes were happening too. That was scary to see. Growing up I got bullied a lot in school and by others because I looked different, acted different and was adopted. I was called Faggot, Fiery and homo a lot along with lots of different ethnic slurs. I kept quiet. In high school I had no desire to date nor any attraction toward either male or female, my safety boundaries were broken, I inside was broken and I was dealing with balancing fears, accomplishments and no being enough and the equation being ending it all with suicide, a leading issue among adoptees and the LGBTQ community. I was determined to fight! Repeat - I am my ancestors' dreams! ….. when I finally accepted myself I knew coming out would be challenging. It was and has! No matter positive, negative, I’m here because of it all. I use both elements as a power and light to move forward in the world. We are all worth it no matter if it's a good day or not! We are superhero’s and worth or powers and identity. 
 

On adoption and LGBTQ intersections

To be LGBTQ and adopted on top of that, there are codes that are like layers and they become heavy. Coming out with your sexual, spiritual, adoptive, ethnic, etc identities. If you aren't in an area that is safe and you aren't able to connect with people who are safe and open, it can be really scary. Adoptees in the closet in an unsafe area are really really alone and isolated.

“We Are Our Ancestor's Dreams”


Adoption has made me love unconditionally. It’s made me love the mystery of life and the unknown. My adoptive parents have been a huge source of inspiration too. They have acknowledged my first family and have done their best incorporating Latin American culture into our family. Yes there are great days, somber days, and trying days …. But face them the best we can. We Are Our Ancestor's Dreams.

“always keep that flame in your heart! I know some days it will be bright and some days it won’t! Please don’t ever let it be extinguished. Let those around you who love you strengthen this light daily and moment to moment! You, I, us are worth it”

 

Allies and advocacy

Being able to be seen, heard and listened to no matter what’s going on …. 

It really extends to unconditional love and understanding and safe spaces because if someone is seeking out your safety and your love, why break that down instead of taking the opportunity to stand and encourage and support by hearing them out. Allyship and support is huge. You don't have to be in a march, but you can help others by letting them know they are meant to be here and are able to be who they want to be. If we are able to step in the direction of positivity, to be hope and light, then you are being an ally.

I would like to work towards more advocacy in this community. There are so many men who are still in the closet and are so afraid to come out.
 

Note from John

My adoptive parents and family and friends have all been accepting! Those who had an issue with me coming out only made me stronger! 
—— in this context I don’t use the term adoptive parents but will emphasize they are MY parents but in this case I appreciate your respect in using the title that way, MY parents have done so much work on their own to help guide me through this world. It’s incredible how much work they have done
 

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Pride Month 2022

  Our Love Freely Series
Showcasing members from our community

Adoptees of South America + Extended Latin Americas celebrates Pride Month with intentional posts to encourage positive conversations about what it means to #LoveFreely in the LGBTQIA+ Adoptee Community. 

ERIC JOHNSON

IG @sciencebaddie

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Pronouns: They/Them and/or He/Him. Eric uses alternating pronouns depending on how they are that day. They are sometimes he/him, they are sometimes they/them.

 

Eric identifies as non-binary/gender queer which honors the history of gender variant people. They want to exist outside of the term non-binary. It is more about them being authentic to who they are. It is about not being who they were told they are supposed to be. For example people assigned “male” at birth are told “You are a boy. You play sports. Etc.” To Eric this means being true to you outside of societal gender roles. The term gender queer doesn’t even really acknowledge the binary and does acknowledge the historical context of Queerness. This is why Eric also identifies with being gender queer.

What does inclusivity mean to you? 

Inclusion is the act of inviting people to a space in which their history, their truth and their humanity is valid.

 

How has being adopted impacted you in terms of feeling inclusivity?

As a young person, my identity as an adoptee was something that made me different from almost every other young person I knew.  Most spaces that I occupied contributed to my feelings of detachment, dysphoria and grief. Now, as an act of radical inclusion and love, I extend grace to my every version of my past self for being forced into resilience. Inclusion means ending the perpetual cycle of trauma and opening up our lives to honesty, authenticity and love. 

 

Have you found intersections between being adopted and gender identity or sexual orientation? How has it impacted you?

One thing that I am learning is that aspects of my core identity may or may not be fixed. My identity as an adoptee is fixed, meaning that I will be born in Paraguay and raised in the US regardless of what happens in my life. This is different than my gender identity which exists on a near infinite constellation and is anything but fixed.  There are very important overlaps in my two identities as it pertains to mental health and trauma. Like an adoptee, trans and nonbinary folks experience complex trauma stemming from their existence in a world dominated by cisheteropatriarchy. These experiences are layered on top of my racial and adoption trauma. At this intersection, it is important for me to be intentional about my healing journey, to surround myself with loved ones and chosen family and to be an advocate for justice for both communities.

Are you involved in the LGBTQIA+ community? If so, how?

Yes, I support and facilitate a trans affinity group of students as a teacher

 

How do you identify your sexual orientation?

Queer

 

Who is your favorite LGBTQIA+ celebrity or activist?

Alok Vaid-Menon - Writer of the book “Beyond the Gender Binary”

What are things that people do or say that make you feel safer as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community?

We spend a lot of time assuming we know who people are. There is liberation in understanding that people have the agency to tell us who they are, and these are the folks who make me feel most safe. Folks who ask me who I am and respect me for being human make me feel most safe. Folks who are vulnerable and kind and honest are the folks I feel most safe with.

 

When thinking about body image, what comes to mind?

Capturing a positive body image is a challenge for me. Trans and nonbinary folks often experience gender dysphoria, which for me, manifested as feeling detached from my body assigned male at birth and who I am in my heart. Imagine that: what it feels like to not feel affirmed by the body assigned to you. Body image for me is about capturing the parts of myself that I have lost and possessing an intimacy of my body that is liberating.  

 

Are there empowering movements that have encouraged you in your journey? If so, what ones and how has it been an encouragement?

The history of gender variance around the world is incredible healing for me. Trans and gender variant people have always existed and have existed in almost every continent on earth including the Americas. It may not be a movement, but indigenous people throughout the world have always had a third gender. Also, some religious leaders have had no gender ID. Claiming my identity as gender queer is a way I show my love for my people. 

JOSELYN

GERARDA

WHITAKER RAE

@joselyngwr

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Pronouns: She/Her/Ella

 

Joselyn identifies as Trans Woman

What does inclusivity mean to you?

Acceptance, tolerance, understanding, willingness to learn and relearn

 

How has being adopted impacted you in terms of feeling inclusivity?

We should embrace our multi-dimensionality and the fact that we are a part of many demographics whether that be latinx, indigenous, nationalities, and ethnicities. As LGBTQ persons we also belong to the community and we should never feel alone. Inclusivity is having a family in our multi-dimensionality.

 

Have you found intersections between being adopted and gender identity or sexual orientation? How has it impacted you?

Yes. Without engaging with my adoption journey, including reunion and going back to Peru, I never would have come to terms with my gender identity.

Are you involved in the LGBTQIA+ community? If so, how?

Yes, Activist in my origin country with the organization Feminas IG @feminasperu

 

How do you identify your sexual orientation?

Straight/heterosexual

 

Who is your favorite LGBTQIA+ celebrity or activist?

Janet Mock - Joselyn loves that Janet got a graduate degree, was the director of “Pose”, and that she’s extremely successful.

 

What are things that people do or say that make you feel safer as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community?

Just seeing that people share stories on their IGs in support of the trans community and their family allies (like parents of trans children) and being critical of enemies of the trans community (such as politicians and transphobic celebrities)

 

A special note from Joselyn

Reunion seems scary for LGBTQ people, but I disagree because most rejections occur for other reasons if at all. I find that because adoptees are really afraid of rejection, they tend to focus on that instead of the positive possibilities of reunion experience. Don’t let anything hold you back!

 

Just like we LGBTQ adoptees have an opportunity to learn from our biological families and culture, our biological families and their cultures have the opportunity to learn from us as well. Our existence is activism and resistance. By just being there we raise awareness.

 

When thinking about body image, what comes to mind?

Good question: I believe we have the right to do what we want with our bodies. Colonization has led and continues to lead us to believe otherwise. I also believe trans people should be supported in body modification to match their gender identity and that this does not in any way take away from the body positive movement, but actually fully supports and embraces it. Two different, yet equally valid ways of loving your body. 

 

Are there empowering movements that have encouraged you in your journey? If so, what ones and how has it been an encouragement?

Despite knowing that we have a huge part of the Peruvian population against us, we maintain resilience and persistence in the face of any challenge that comes our way. This level of audacity has provided so much inspiration for me. I’ve never felt closer to my origin country.

ELENA DI GIOVANNA

SERRATO

@elena.maria.21

@healingpuentes

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Pronouns: She/her/ella

 

Elena identifies her gender as female.

What does inclusivity mean to you?

For me it means embracing all of who we are, and not just “tolerating”

 

How has being adopted impacted you in terms of feeling inclusivity?

In my childhood it created an invisible and sometimes visible difference between myself and the rest. Now that we have created our own tribe/community of people who were adopted,  we create the inclusivity that we want :)

 

Have you found intersections between being adopted and gender identity or sexual orientation? How has it impacted you?

Yes there are intersections as it is another aspect of self identification  to understand and accept. When I was younger I used to wonder why I had to be adopted and belong to the lgbtqia+ community also. It was already hard enough to be different in a small town. Just as we choose with whom to share our adoption story; we do the same with coming out. Now, I embrace all of the parts of me and wouldn’t have changed anything aspect of me.

How do you identify your sexual orientation?

Gay Woman

 

Who is your favorite LGBTQIA+ celebrity or activist?

I don’t necessarily follow one in particular but I appreciate our mayor of Bogotá: Claudia Lopez  because she authentically works for the wellbeing of the citizens of Bogotá. Also Jonathan Van Ness from Queer Eye for positive messages about self love and acceptance :)

 

What are things that people do or say that make you feel safer as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community?

When casually speaking to recognize all types of relationships when giving examples using combinations of pronouns

 

When thinking about body image, what comes to mind?

Self love, a work in progress, taking care of yourself

Are there empowering movements that have encouraged you in your journey?

If so, what ones and how has it been an encouragement?

Anytime anyone speaks their truth regardless of other people’s reaction is empowering 

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