Gay, Mexican, and Adopted?

me and my sister (and my Mickey)
me and my sister (and my Mickey)

Living in New York City, you meet people from many walks of life. When people meet me, they become fascinated and overwhelmed with my history. And I sometimes forget what makes them take interest in a little chubby Mexican Gay boy who was adopted at birth. But then I think about it and realize, “Oh, yeah, I guess that’s why–but still, I wonder?”

My story started June 30, 1975 in Mexico. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. (Child, I hope I don’t get sued for that line) My biological mother didn’t want another child, so the midwife (my future aunt’s mother) made a quick phone call minutes after I was born and called my future adoptive parents and explain, “I have a little boy that nobody wants, do you want him?” My parents, not being able to have children of their own–mom had something wrong with her uterus and my dad was sterile–immediately jumped in their green Cougar and drove all night from Odessa, TX to El Paso, TX. The midwife, after placing me in a wicker basket and covering me with newspapers–making look like she was a newspaper carrier, illegally crossed me from Juarez, Mexico to El Paso, TX–where she prayed that I wouldn’t start crying when the border patrol stopped to question her trip across the border. My parents were at her house hours later and that’s how I got my start.

A few months ago I asked my mom what her favorite childhood memory with me was and she replied, “It was the next day after bringing you home and I had you on the bed (Mexican’s didn’t use cribs back then) and all my friends were present and they all said that you looked like me. I also appreciated not having any scars from childbirth.” That’s my mom, a modern day woman of  the 70s. My sister, who was also adopted–from a different family–is eight years my senior and was super excited to have a baby brother. According to her, her favorite memory was when they brought me home and she pretended that I was her baby.

Because of my parents generous nature (which I hope to one day acquire because I am one greedy Mexican and according to my dad I am the spawn of Satan), when they found out that my biological mother was out of a home, out of money they brought her to the USA and hired her to be my live-in nanny/babysitter for the first few months. Later, they’d come to discover my eight-year-old sister was skipping school to stay at home with me because my biological mother was letting me go hungry and wouldn’t change my diapers during the day–this was 1975, so “Pampers” were not in the picture. They fired her and my independent woman of a mother stayed at home with me instead. My parents always wanted my biological mother to be a part of my life and when saying  my nightly prayers would force me to include her in them. I see now what beautiful people they are–but back then I just thought they were crazy.

My sister and I slept in the same bed and had some of the best talks ever–once I was older. We’d stay up talking about being adopted and what it meant to us. See, to us, it wasn’t a big deal and still to this day, we both don’t feel one way or another about it–sometimes we forget we’re adopted because “family is family” and we all argue, love and gossip–just like yours. Since then, both my sister and I have met our biological brothers and sisters, something that our parents helped us do–and people will look at us crazy when I say, Oh, this is my sister’s sister–when we all hang out together–because it’s all complicated! (But when you ask us, we say we only have one sibling–each other–but then we have to back track)

When I came out to my family, I knew my mom and sister would be fine with it–in fact after telling my mother, she lit up a cigarette, requested a Pepsi and told me to move out of the way, because Hunter, her favorite show, was about to come on. It was my dad I was worried about. I knew he always wanted a son who was into sports and to help him hot-tar the roof, but that wasn’t me, instead I’d bake him brownies and gave him wardrobe suggestions. Now, everyone in my family knows my business and to them…I’m “just me,”  in fact when I go home to visit they call me by my nickname, which I will NEVER EVER REVEAL–and it’s comforting.

So as I go on my life’s journey–I know I’ll meet people who will continue to be fascinated with my life and ask how it’s possible that I can write about it in such a manner that ropes in humor, drama and what at times seems like fiction, but my answer remains the same, it’s because I’m gay, Mexican, and adopted.

Nando & His Dad

And they say the show must go on, but I’m having trouble believing so. I just got a call from my sister saying that my dad, who was already in the hospital, took a turn for the worse, and is now in ICU.

I can’t say that my dad is the strongest, sweetest, or the coolest because that would be a lie. He’s the dad that embarrasses me, makes me pull my hair out, but he does loves me unconditionally (and he’s proven that time and time again). Not a lot of Mexican’s adopted in the 1970s, but he and my mother made special room for me in their hearts and gave me a home, identify and humor. Yes, I am Gay, Mexican and Adopted.

My dad called me a few month ago and said, “Mijo, I want to see you—can you please come for a visit?” I went home to Odessa, TX and spent some time with him. I’ve never felt so special in my entire life.

When I arrived, he walked over to me and in his loving father tone said, “You look like a retard with all that hair up in the air. What’s wrong with you?” I rolled my eyes, walked away from him and held my tongue. “Come back, get closer,” he said. “You have so much grey hair in your beard, look; I’m 63-years-old and I don’t have a single grey hair on me. You’re getting old boy!”

I couldn’t hold it in, “Well, the boys in New York love it—and it gets me non-stop sex.” He rolled his eyes, walked away and yelled for my mother.

Now, he’s in the hospital and the doctors don’t think he will be making it and they are asking my family to make some decisions concerning his health options. He’s pulled through before and I’m hoping he does it again—it’s not his time—he’s got so much to tease me about. I take it back; he is the strongest, sweetest and the coolest.

This post above was written in 2008 — my dad passed away June 2011. The last conversation I had with him was on Mother’s Day when he asked me to come for a visit. I made plans to visit in July. I was too late. But on that phone call–he gave me tips on how to BBQ and told me a few jokes. He will be missed; his energy, humor and BBQ lives on.

Nando & The Step Ladder: A “Stealing From the Dead” Tale


1/29/07

Sometimes I sit on a milk crate in my Brooklyn apartment looking out the window staring at the cars passing by. It’s calming, it’s relaxing, it all ends when one of them runs an animal over like a steamroller. Yesterday I was sitting by the window enjoying 2 teenagers mug an old lady on Ave M, when I heard noises coming from the hallway. I peer out the peep hole to see if its the crazy Russian lady in apt 3f who often runs out into the hallways with her butcher knife chasing the evil spirits away. I tell you, nothing scares a Jehovah’s Witness faster than Mrs. 3f.

But to my surprise, it was Safaden, the building super….if you can call him that…. Safaden is from a foreign country where they speak with thick and loud accents, misuse English words, and spit right in front of you. Actually, I just described my last 3 boyfriends…..but I digress. 

Safaden: What?!! You look, you help!
Nando: What are you doing in 3c?
Safaden:Lady died, now I have job of taking her shits out.
Nando: How did she die?
Safaden: What I look like….Morgue person? How I know?
Nando:So where are you taking her stuff?
Safaden: Good stuff, to my apartment, it’s my anniversary next week. Bad stuff, I put in dumpster. 

I never knew the lady in 3c. My heart sank, my pulse started to race, my eyes……followed Safaden as he took out a chair that would look PERFECT in my living room! While he raced to take “shits” to his apartment, I barged….I mean …..walked into 3c for a little shopping spree. Ugh….the filth, the un-kept rooms, the dirty bathroom….it actually looked like my roommate’s half of the apartment…..except 3c didn’t have beer bottles in her shower. Yeah! Explain that one?? 

Nando: (yelling at the top of my lungs!) WHY ARE THERE BEER BOTTLES IN THE SHOWER?
Rameez: calm down, I was getting ready for a date and I was drinking.
Nando: WHILE SHOWERING???!!!
Rameez: Uhhh, YEAH! God, you act as if I did something wrong!
Nando: Okay, let me get this straight…..you can’t remember to take the trash out, pick up your dirty under wear off the floor, or properly wash a dish, but you can multi-task in the shower???!!!
Rameez: I might as well be living with my mother. 

So as I am going through 3c’s stuff, I see numerous step ladders which remind me of the June edition of the magazine “Real Simple”….where they featured using old step ladders and revamping them into shelves with nice potted plants and old books. This place was a gold mine! I had to justify taking the stuff by thinking that since I never met her, she must have never gone out much and must have been a mean old lady that no one really liked, so her life had no meaning. Now that her possessions where being put to good use, her life would have purpose after all, and I was helping her get into heaven. 

Safaden: (returning from his apartment) HEY! Where is step ladder? Wife said some crap about needing ladder for stupid potted plant.
Nando: (running into my apartment) Safaden, I don’t know what you are taking about? Bye. 

I come into my apartment and begin a self imposed “trading spaces” episode. Ah…the options are endless. There are lamps, chairs, ladders, racks, rugs…..It’s like a garage sale dream come true. I can’t wait for Rameez to come home and surprise him with the new LOOK of the apartment…very bohemian, very Moulin Rouge……very stolen. 

Rameez: (walking into apartment) Oh VOW! (he can’t pronounce the “W” sound. It’s a Pakistani thing…don’t judge.
Nando:(with a secret grin) You like???!!
Rameez:VOW Nando, this is really great, but why do we have 4 step ladders?
Nando: Just go with it…..look…we have a chair now!
Rameez:When did you go shopping?
Nando:Well see, that’s the great news….I didn’t. The lady in 3c died, and this is all her stuff!! Cool hu?
Rameez: TAKE IT OUT!
Nando:What?
Rameez: We can’t have dead stuff in here Nando. I won’t be able to sleep at night. Take it out.
Nando:Stop being a baby…there is noting wrong with having it here…it’s a rule, when people die you take their stuff.
Rameez: Do all Mexicans do that?
Nando:It’s not a Mexican thing STUPID…..it’s a New York thing. Now, look at the potted plant. See how I placed it on the ladder so the sun hits it directly? 

Needless to say, I got rid of a few things cause I think I over did it. But I did keep the chair and I now use it to not only look out the window, but sit and enjoy living. Thank you 3c. 

The Moral of the story:
a. If the super were gay I’d be in love?
b. Even after death, you can help someone have purpose.
c. It’s time to renew my subscription to Real Simple.

Nando & His Mail

After 3 months ofhaving forwarded my mail from
NEW JERSEY to BROOKLYN….and having lost ALL
my mail in those 3 months…..I looked in my tiny mail
box yesterday after trenching the horrible BROOKLYN
snow covered streets and I find a letter with a yellow sticker
on it.I laugh, I cry, I burp (it was the 7-up I had at the

14 street train station) and I notice the letter waiting for
me is thin with BOLD markings on it.
“Oh Great! I see an unsolicated letter and scan through the front label
quickly…..Another credit card application I’ll be rejected once
they plug in my social security number!” I’m about to throw the letter away but
decide to tuck it into my OPRAH magazine that is 3 weeks late.
I get inside my apartment and I thumb through the magazine and notice the credit card
application that I tucked inside only to examine it closer, realizing it’s not junk mail.
It’s from the US Immigration office.The last letter they sent me (3 weeks ago) stated that they needed me to come

back for fingerprints…..because my old ones had expired! I looked at my finger tips and thought to myself….how is that possible?
As I open the letter, my cell phone rings….it’s my good friend/ex-roommate,
Julie Hanson….telling me that she might come for a visit and how’s she’s feeling a bit
under the weather.Julie: …and Nando, I thought I had a brain tumor…but finally realized it was really only gas….”

As I began to read my letter, and somewhat ignoring Julie’s gas epiphany,
The US Immigration office was informing me that I need to show up to their office on Dec 29th, 2005, at 8am (eastern time…of course!!) as I am to be sworn in as a US citizen!!
I MADE IT!
I MADE IT!
Woo-whoo!!!
After 30 years………………….!!
I can’t tell you how it feels………….I just wanted to share!
I know I txt messaged a few of you…but here is the official email~
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