My uncle Xavier liked cheesecake a lot. His birthday was one week after mine, and during our joint celebrations on Sundays, we always had cheesecake. My grandmother has always preferred more traditional cakes, and that's why I bonded with my uncle over our shared love for cheesecake.
Most of the memories I have of him involve the same scene: Xavier sitting at the table in the dining room of our house, telling some story that is half reality and half fantasy, as he praises the culinary marvels that came out of my mother's kitchen.
Xavier was always the first to say: "Raquel, this beef stew is fantastic," and he did it even if it wasn't true. He also found the right moment to say: "Claudia, you look so beautiful today," or to give me a rose. If he thought my outfit was wrong for me, however, he didn't keep it to himself.
My uncle Xavier never had a wedding of his own. He couldn't even dream of having one. My uncle Xavier was gay.
My uncle Xavier gave me makeup as a graduation gift. Not only did he hire a makeup artist, but he gave me my first brush and an orange Juicy Tube, right when they became popular.
He put together the music for my wedding, going the extra mile to get me those lost Cuban music scores and making special arrangements for a song in Hebrew.
But my uncle Xavier never had a wedding of his own. He couldn't even dream of having one. My uncle Xavier was gay.
If he could have gotten married, there's no doubt that the cake would have been a New York-style cheesecake, and the imaginary guest list would have included the most influential celebrities in the country. The music playlist would have included classic Mexican songs and some dancy tunes to ignite the dance floor.
But instead of having a wedding and cake, my uncle spent his final years fighting against the discrimination he constantly endured in our country.
My uncle was not only gay. He was also sick. Over Christmas in 2012, he fell outside a metro station, and instead of enjoying my mom's Cuban dinner, he spent the night on a stretcher in the hallway of a public hospital with a broken hip. No one wanted to help him. No one wanted to touch him. Months passed before they operated on him, and he endured constant discrimination, even from the medical personnel.
My uncle and I grew closer when we discovered that we didn't just share a passion for cheesecake; we shared certain values and concerns. Gay marriage was one of the issues that I raised during my earliest encounters with national politics, and Xavier became one of my most important supporters.
When I entered the world of political activism, I discovered a new side to my uncle. He led a double life: He was a politically active man who was well-recognized in his community.
His presence in my life opened up my eyes to the discrimination that exists in Mexico, and to the injustices that make it difficult for people to publicly express their love.
Watching him, I gained an understanding of the consequences of being forced to feel like you're making wrong or surprising decisions.
The photo of the boy stopping an anti-LGBT protest on Saturday, because he has an uncle who's gay and he doesn't want people to hate him, sums up all my feelings about this demonstration.
-- Regeneración (@RegeneracionMx) September 11, 2016
I would have liked to stand with him and say: "I don't want people to hate my uncle either."
Denying that such protests lead to more hate and discrimination would be delusional.
Saying: "I have gay friends and I love them, but I'm going to the march anyway," means that you never really listened to those gay friends, and you never really marched with them.
It means that you don't understand that denying someone the option of being a part of the most basic institutions in our society is to deny their human condition.
My uncle Xavier and I shared a love for cheesecake, and for men.
This post first appeared on HuffPost Mexico. It has been translated into English and edited for clarity.
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