The 12th of June of 2019, four days before Father’s Day, the Constitutional Court of Ecuador approved equal marriage! Yes, my country was moving one step forward in matters of human rights.
I could not believe my eyes when I opened Facebook and saw dozens of posts from the media and my friends sharing the great news. Unfortunately, many messages were not just filled with love. Some comments contained too many words of hate, homophobia and cruelty (that could be a whole different article for me to write about). There is no excuse to be rude just because you can express yourself freely. You are not sharing an opinion the moment that you disrespect someone.
To be fully honest, I was positively surprised that Ecuadorian judges passed this decision. I’m ashamed to see how in some topics I had lost faith in my country and I am glad I was wrong. Thank goodness there were 5 out of 9 judges that appealed in favor of this action, granting ALL Ecuadorians the civil right of marriage.
I have never felt as proud to be from Ecuador like that Wednesday. That same feeling I got it again the next day, when my dad openly defended LGBTI rights on the family WhatsApp group.
But first, let me tell you a bit about my dad:
He is great. He loved me since the day I was born and I have never felt it otherwise. He worked as a kidney doctor for most of his life, treating delicate patients whom had many other diseases that could go from diabetes to HIV. As a child he decided to be a doctor because he wanted to help, and I believe he succeeded. He was not there for the money, so he worked eight hours a day in one of the country’s largest public hospitals. That sole revenue could not cover the family needs so, he worked 6 extra hours the evenings and Saturdays at a private dialysis center.
When I was a child, he would pick me up in the early afternoon from my grandma’s (yes, the one I wrote about in my previous article). My mom had to work until much later, so my dad would play the afternoon with me. He would help me patiently with my homework and he would run in the backyard with me. He would even continue playing with me after I broke involuntarily many pair of his glasses. It did not matter to him. I never saw him really mad at me, except once because I pasted some clay on the seat of his new car. Oopsy…
He obviously forgot me for that and he encouraged me in everything that I did, said and thought. He would teach me life lessons every single day.
Every evening, my parents and I would talk about our days and, if by misfortune one of those days was not the best, they will always try to find a lesson to it. My parents were always educating me, being positive and having faith. Thanks to my parents I had a real, loving and stable family.
Anyways, back to my dad… he was great, but sometimes during my teenage years we started to fight about things like him not helping in the house. Or him asking me or my mom to pass him something instead of doing it by himself. Him, not doing the dishes. Him, not knowing how to cook anything. Him, making comments about LGBT people. Of course I did not agree. Of course I fought for it. My mom would ask me to be “understanding” because he was raised differently. My mom tried to understand why he was the way he was. I could understand – well, not really – but I would not just allow those type of comments. It made me sick to my guts. So every time any of this would come up, World War III arrived home.
Fast forward and it is 2011, I had been almost one year in France and my family was coming to visit me. I remember exactly that one week before, I called my dad to his cellphone and told him: “Listen, you are gonna meet my friends. Some of them are gay, I will not accept any comments or ugly stares. If ever you feel you cannot hold it, do not come, because they are family to me. Also, remember how many straight guys have hurt my feelings? Exactly, people are good or bad, so do not judge them for being gay.“
One week later they came and as promised I introduced them to my friends. My dad surprised me positively and talked to ALL of them, gay and straight. He was himself with all my friends, joking round and asking things about France. He then came to me and said “You were always so right, they are just like me, they are just people, good people.” Since that day on, my dad stopped all stereotypes towards the LGBTI community, in his mind and in his actions. He also told me that he was taught to see them negatively. Same happened when he started treating HIV patients, because he saw they were mainly gay people and that scared him. We talked about HIV as well, I told him that in my opinion those that have it is because they lack of education and means to know how to protect themselves. HIV is not longer a matter of sexual orientation, but rather, a matter of education and healthcare. Last but not least, HIV – just as homosexuality – should not come with stereotypes that pull us away from people, rather we should be empathetic just like we would be with anyone else.
So let me tell you what made me even prouder of my dad. One afternoon, on the family WhatsApp group, a family member sent this video of a priest and right-wing politician – I know, preaching and not practicing. The priest was saying that everyone should oppose to this new equal marriage thing in Ecuador because it puts into question family values and the values of the country. He went on and on saying how marriage is for a man and a woman and all of this using the word of God. I could not believe it, I wanted to reply back but then I thought about my dad and how this would comprise him towards his family. Little did I know, it was going to be my dad himself who will a huge text in which he first explained who this man was (basically a right-wing corrupted priest and politician) and then he defended the right for all men and women to obtain the right of civil marriage because Ecuador is a laic country (and he said much more). It was clear, to the point, and it was the most beautiful and brave act of love I have ever seen from my dad. Tears came out of my eyes, I am so proud to see that ANY man – or woman – at ANY age, can change in spite of what he or she has been taught. It is so beautiful to see that my dad is not just no longer homophobic but that he actually respects, understands, accepts and most importantly defends. This is exactly what we shall all be doing, defending the rights of all humans even if we are not directly concerned. I am a woman, my dad is a man, we are both straight, yet we defend the LGBTI community because we believe in EQUALITY and LOVE and that is what LIFE is all about.
This article is for all those dads – and moms – educating for equality. As well as for all those feminist dads and for all those fathers defending the LBGTI community. I am lucky to have one, he might have not been raised like that, he might have not thought like that most of his adult life but now, in his sixties, he does and I could not be prouder of him. They say you teach your children with your actions rather than with your words. My dad is a clear example today that everything he explained to me about love, peace and equality is reflected in his daily actions. Thank you dad and thank you to those five judges that allowed my country to be one step better. <3