After having spent a few days in Guadalajara, I visited a beach town called Puerto Vallarta, and then I returned to Guadalajara for a few days before going elsewhere. Not only is Guadalajara a useful transit place, it is also a wonderful city, the second biggest in Mexico after CDMX.
On my last day kind Anjelina tells me she’s invited you and another guy along for a drink and a bite before dropping me at the bus transit. Of course I agree, although I wonder who you guys are. She tells me one is at university with her, and the other is a young sweet guy who is only just coming out as gay. She thinks I’ll be a role model to you and possibly quite a “tonic” (her words not mine!) to give you something positive to look forward to. I totally accept, it’s the least I can do for such kind hosts/friends of mine in this foreign city.
I explore the city all day whilst Anjelina goes to university class and then picks you guys up. As per normal Latino culture, I get a text from her to tell me to go to another place miles away as the traffic is getting bad and it would be so much easier. Using Whatapp location services can be brilliant, but when you are using a crap android and the mobile reception is iffy, it can frustrate the life out of you. I walk left, the blue solid circle moves, well it flashes and then after about 30yards the blue circle appears on the other side of the map, as if I’ve totally gone the wrong way! Its just so frustrating!!!
Thanks to a quick video call, we work out where to meet and I persevere although wish there was much more pavement space. Everything is crowded on the pavements, be it food sellers, shoppers, chewing gum sellers, ice cream stalls, taxis waiting for their customers, motorbikes taking short cuts, shop owners standing outside their doors. “Flipping MOVE!” Is what I want to shout out if only I knew the Spanish equivalent!
I didn’t realise it, but Anjelina and you two guys were watching me for about 100yards and filming me on you mobile phones, arriving into the area looking for you. You guys looked bemused. I greet each of you, there’s Manuel who is clearly intelligent and goes to Uni with Anjelina. He has this longish top hair tucked into a cap as if he looks street-American…and then there’s you, Jose, so short as a typical Mexican, and really innocent. You have this lovely smile, there’s also those eyes of yours, sunken in as your cheeks fill your face, they open wide as you meet your first International deaf gay guy; me.
We clarify our sign names and how to spell our names too. You are 18yr old, and we don’t tell each other we are gay, we just know because of Anjelina. I’m not sure its important to you, I think its more the white-non-Mexican-deaf-solo-traveller that amazes you 😉. I have acquired a lot of Mexican sign language by now and try and converse directly with Manuel and you without relaying on Anjelica too much. By the time our greetings are over, we agree to have a cold drink – its really warm today and I’m gasping for a drink after all that scavenging!
The drinks are ordered, we start talking about my travels, and about beautiful Guadalajara. We move to talk about your individual education pathways so far, and I learn that you have just finished high school and will be starting college. Anjelina and Manuel are in the second year of a 4 year degree course. They are clearly fond of you, and I think it is because you are clearly bright and keen to learn. Its important that older deaf people support young deaf people. We then talk about our families.
I learn that your father passed away when you were only 8yr old and that it was due to his excessive diet and drinking. I also learn you have several older brothers and sisters. Your whole family moved to Guadalajara from Oaxaca because there is no further education opportunities for deaf people there. It took a lot for your family to move and every year you have always visited Oaxaca, going swimming at the beach with the family. Family clearly means a lot to you.
Manuel interjects every so often as he has met international deaf people before, particularly Americans. Whilst he this with painful reiteration of the ASL alphabet, you are clearly open to his support and tips as he tells you to try and reduce your Spanish (Espanol), and enrich the visual. To gesticulate, but not draw. There are several points of humorous hesitation and efforts, and eventually I dismiss Manuel’s interjections, asking you to focus and try communicate with me directly. You enjoy this and I can see the skill and keenness of international communication begin to develop in you.
On the walls of this café are plenty of parrot images, parrot sculptures too. I can’t help it and tell you all all about my maternal deaf grandmother whom I always teased for having a big nose like a parrot, for always repeating herself, and how I would always buy her parrot related gifts each Xmas and birthday. I tell you about her stroke and how her final months were so sad. I also explain about my previous marriage that had ended during that time and how I was searching for a new home at the time. I tell you about losing a flat I had wanted to a higher bidder. And then how I arrived at my gorgeous home (for a viewing) and what I saw in this house; a pet parrot walking around. It sends the shivers on you all clearly, goosebumps all round. A lovely story to tell in International Sign indeed.
Our group conversation naturally turns to being gay in Mexico compared to the UK as well as my recent trip to California and what I had learned there. My mentioning my previous marriage triggers questions about legality of gay marriage too. Whilst much of this conversation was between Anjelina and I, I know you valued understanding this information.
Jose, I don’t think you have any challenges in front of you, but suspect the family do not know yet and that you may have some hesitation going on, what with your father not being alive and the family having moved miles for you when you were young. But hey, I am sure you will be fine and that coming out will progress naturally. I know coming out for every individual is different and so many factors determine the extent. But looking at you and sensing your strong set of family values and the love your family clearly have for you, it will be okay. It may be rough at first, religion may come and go, but in time it will all settle. You clearly will always have a good network of friends, older ones like Anjelina and Manuel too.
I just hope you will meet someone nice and never be hurt. That is what we all want in life eh.