BREAKING FREE DURING LOCKDOWN

Glitter, heels, long nails, wild dancing, crop tops, colourful outfits, 80s music; these are a few of Pedro Lorenzo Menéndez’s (21) favourite things. One would rarely find Pedro sat at home and not out with friends or dancing. But then, the corona lockdown came, and Pedro found himself stuck indoors with his parents; one of which did not know an important part of Pedro’s identity.

by Veronica Kontopoulou

Pedro has been dating his boyfriend Daniel for almost a year now. They first met last summer in his hometown in Gran Canaria, after stumbling across each other on Grindr. Indeed, according to Pedro, it was love at first sight. “I hadn’t told my parents that I was gay yet. I was afraid of their reaction”, he says.

Like many people still “in the closet”, Pedro had been living a double life full of secrets. He would never wear the extravagant outfits he loved in front of his father.  Instead, he would pack his big earrings and neon skirts to wear once he was out of the house. “I always knew deep inside that it would be alright with my mother, but with my father, it was different”, he says, “He would always judge me for the way I dress. When I’d wear my mother’s perfume for example, he’d say things like ‘that is not appropriate’ and that ‘people wouldn’t take me seriously’”.

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Photo by Daniel Rush

One Christmas, when he was six or seven years old, Pedro was opening his presents and they were all dolls. “When I opened the last present – which was my favourite one – I screamed with joy and hugged my parents. Then I looked at my dad and I promised him that would be the last one. It was me already knowing that he wasn’t alright with that part of my identity”, he says. He adds that the interesting thing about all this was that his father’s best friend from years back was gay, saying “Maybe he was just worried about me suffering like his friend because of standing out and attracting attention”.

María Nieves Lucia, Pedro’s mother, had always encouraged him to be himself and enjoy life to the fullest. Pedro introduced Daniel to Lucia a month into dating. Daniel was considering moving abroad and Pedro really wanted his mother to meet him before. “When I told her, she looked at her watch and said, ‘You’ve taken a long time to tell me, you stupid boy’”, he says, “She also told me she loved me the way I am. It was fucking liberating. I couldn’t stop crying”.

During Spain’s strict quarantine, Pedro found himself missing his boyfriend and desperately wanting to meet him. His father, Andrés, was getting frustrated, not understanding his son’s need to risk catching the virus just to see Daniel. Naturally, a big argument broke out, and Pedro could feel his father’s pressure reaching dangerous levels, so he decided to put an end to the tension by saying “Just relax. I will stay at home” to which he added, “Dani is my boyfriend and that is why I want to see him. We’ve been together for eight months. On Christmas I went to meet his family”. Andrés kept on arguing without registering the newfound information, but later that night he went up to Pedro’s room and told him, “I just want you to be happy, and I want you to live your life right”. Andrés could finally stop worrying about what his son was hiding or who he was spending his nights with.

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Photo by Daniel Rush

The lockdown helped Pedro make some revelations. He could not carry on living a double life. He realised a lot of things about his life and childhood and stopped blaming the world for having treated him badly. He made peace with the fact that it wasn’t the other children’s fault being mean to him for being different. Now he says, “Society has not yet reached the point where we can all be true to ourselves and be whoever we want to be”. For those still struggling in unaccepting homes, Pedro promises that “life is not like this. You will shine and you will get to be your true self. Just be brave”. He also stresses to never think that there is something wrong with being different, “just hold on to what makes you yourself and don’t let anyone take that away”. 

Now Pedro is rocking crop tops and hoop earrings in front of his father. Andrés occasionally gives a smile at Daniel, something he rarely does at anyone. Nevertheless, Pedro is still withholding some things and is taking it slow. “I have not fully processed the whole coming out yet. It’s been stressful. But now I’ve had time to think about how I want to do things going forward”, he says. Pedro’s always been good at being himself but the idea that he was being judged was constantly in the back of his mind. He says, “Now that I told my father, I am finally wearing my crop top and tight skirt without feeling like I am doing something wrong”.

*Featured Image by Nathan Ross Photography

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