- She Will…, and: Outlier (A Minority within the Minority)
Her hands are trembling like leavesblowing in the wind, barely on a branchbut she’s made her decision.
She will share who she really isthe life she’s kept a secret for yearswhen she comes out to her parents.
She will tell them she’s knownsince she was eight that the boysin her life would only be friends.
She will tell them her best friendwhose eyes always see into her soulis actually her novia of two years.
She slowly walks into the kitchenthe aromas of café and huevosintermingling, adorning the air.
Her father fixes his tie before Massand her mother picks at her platelistening to the TV, her eyes transfixed.
Suddenly, she hears what her mother hears:“Orlando…shooting…gay club”and her heart drops to the floor.
“It serves them right, sick godless people,”her father says to the mirror in the hallthe anger flaring in his eyes reflected back. [End Page 181]
Her mother doesn’t disagreeonly shakes her head in pity,her huevos rancheros getting cold.
It is then that her daughter steps backinto the role of la hija responsablethe one with good grades, obedient.
She will not tell them today;even though it’s hard to hideshe can’t bear to lose them.
She will allow their condemnationto go unchecked, nodding her headto their hate so they won’t suspect.
She will keep on holding Ana’s handand drinking the honey from her lipsbut only in the dark, behind closed doors.
For now, she will slip on her maskto attend a service where she’s toldGod forgives certain sins, but not hers.
She heads to the car in silencethe golden medalla from her madrinafeeling a little too tight around her neck. [End Page 182]
Outlier (A Minority within the Minority)
Subject: “Research project on college experiences of first-year Mexican-American students”
I slowly found my way through thestill unfamiliar Memorial Unionsat across from two graduate studentsand waited for the click of the recorder.
Then the open-ended questions began,the ones that were supposed to elicitheartbreaking, tragic responsesconfirming their hypothesis of a stereotype:
“My parents expected me to picka college closer to homeand they made me feel bad aboutgoing to a college so far away.”
“They also expect me to havea job in addition to my classesso I can send money homeand help the family out.”
But alas, I was luckyand two highly-educated parentsled to greater freedom for meand more boring responses for them:
“My parents miss me andI think they hopedI’d stay closer to home,but they’re happy I like it here.” [End Page 183]
“They don’t expect me to havea job outside of my classes andthey send me an allowance ofspending money each month.”
They were professionaland asked every questionwith the classic Midwest hospitalitybut I could tell I wasn’t enough.
Where there should have beenfollow-up inquiries for me to elaborate,there was nothing but empty airand blank notepads between us.
I walked back to my dorm, head downtheir gazes needling at my neck;I’d given the wrong answersto questions of my own experience.
I wasn’t good enough for their studyI didn’t give them what they wanted:a struggling, possibly poor, fish-out-of-waterMexican-American girl at Iowa State.
My fears would be confirmed at our panelheld in the gallery weeks laterwhen they played clips of our interviewsand I only heard my voice once, maybe twice.
I felt like an oddity, out of placein the middle of three other girlswhose experiences deliveredthe answers mine could not.
As the audience asked them for morethe spotlight shone on them ever brightermy spirit left in a lonely, quiet cornerfalling behind into the shadows.
A middle-class Mexican-American...