By: José R. Hernández Ávila
Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro, Shariana Ferrer, Zulnette García Ramos and Elga García Casilla gathered at the Chardón building at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez (UPRM).More than 100 people attended the panel to hear their testimonies about how they have confronted the issue of raising children in “nontraditional” families.
At the beginning of the conference it was mentioned that 55 percent of Puerto Rican families are not composed of the “traditional” model of a mother, father and childrend and that 65 percent of Puerto Rican children are not born into “traditional” families.
Moderator Jocelyn Géliga Vargas introduced as the first topic of discussion: “Identity & Labels”. Three out of the four women who spoke did not actually mind the term lesbian, but Shariana Ferrer, would much more prefers to label herself as queer, as she explained that it rejects everything that is already implied towards herself. On the other hand, Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro, an award winning book writer, stated that she does not believe in labeling herself anything, but being a woman.
(Here from left to right we can se Moderator: Jocelyn Géliga Vargas, Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro, Shariana Ferrer, Zulnette García Ramos, Elga García Casillas.)
All four women shared various stories on how they all fell in love for the first time with people from their same sex. In fact, Yolanda and Zulnette both have had relationships with men and later on fell in love with other women. Zulnette is currently in a relationship with Elga García Casillas , whorefers as herself as a “pure lesbian.” Having had a lot of controversy with church and religion growing up, Elga fell in love for the first time at the age of 18, when she finally told her family of her sexuality she lost verbal communication for 3 years, said Elga.
This brought up the on-going discussion of “hetero-normativity” around our society and families all around. For the understanding “hetero-normality” is basically the theory of traditional situations in which adults taught children there was one “normal” model for raising a family, education, manners and life morals.
Yolanda Arroyo shared on her personal experience being very difficult as she tells her daughter that her mother is in love and will start going out with another woman.
The impact on the young mind of the little boy from not knowing how to differentiate from wight or wrong. . The García couple had a very difficult task in raising an adopted young boy and girl which they love very much and show each day how the myth of “mom and dad” does not need to be the traditional or “correct” way of having a functional family.
Luis Rodríguez , an audience member who is also a student at UPRM, said in response to the panel that “the myth is nothing more than just another stereotypical thought put out in society and how many stereotypes are judged upon without even knowing the actual situations a person is going through by the hetero-normativity around us.