Luis Cabrera and his 15-year-old Little sat across from each other, socially distant, in a park in Toronto discussing the recent Black Lives Matters protests and Pride.
“I can’t understand how people even care,” Luis’ Little said to him regarding the prejudice that still exists against both the BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities. “How are you doing? You know I’m so happy to have you in my life.”
Nine years ago Luis enrolled as a Big Brother with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto. He was matched with a then 7-year-old little, the same one he now has today. After a year of being matched as a mentor to his little, forming a relationship with him, and connecting with his family, Luis felt that it was time to come out as a gay man to BBBST, his Little and his Little’s family.
“I feel like I’m in a place where I have to be honest, and I want to approach this conversation but I don’t know how to go about it,” Luis told his caseworker.
Luis’ caseworker offered his support and recommended that he reach out to his little’s mother first to see how she’d like to approach the subject with her son.
Reflecting on coming out to his caseworker and then his Little’s mother now, Luis said, “I was definitely a bit nervous.”
“That can really damper a relationship. Some people are still like that [prejudiced]. That was my biggest fear. That there was potential of maybe the mom not being ok with it.”
When Luis told his Little’s mother, she was both understanding and supportive. “That’s amazing,” she told Luis. “I’ve been taking my son to the gay pride parades ever since he was a kid. He loved it, I loved it. You’re a human being. Love is love.”
Luis was thrilled that there was no issue. “I really wanted to continue to be his mentor and watch him grow. If she was not ok with it, I’m sure it would have just fizzled out,” Luis said.
The one stipulation that the Little’s mother did have, is that she wanted Luis to be the one to tell him that he was gay. So he did. Luis sat down with his Little and explained to him that he was a gay man, and what that meant.
Remembering the conversation with a smile Luis said, “he was super great. Considering he was eight at the time I think he was nervous in the sense that I don’t think he knew the right thing to say, but I feel like he couldn’t have reacted better.”
Laughing, Luis added, “He said things like, ‘whenever I hear anyone say anything about gay people at school I’m going to beat them up,’ and I had to say. ‘woah let’s not take it that far, we can approach it a different way.’”
“I think the fact that I spoke to him myself was important to him. Having that open conversation has been the foundation of our relationship. We’ve always been able to openly speak to each other and talk freely about things.”
After being asked about the effect that his mentorship had on his little, Luis paused for a moment before speaking.
“You can tell in the way he speaks to me and the way that he asks questions and the way that he openly talks about certain subjects that children don’t really approach or talk about often. I think that’s been a big stepping stone for us,” Luis said.
Luis’ mentorship, transparency, and education with his Little served to support him in supporting the LGBTQ+ community.
“I think he will grow up to be one of those people who will change the world and be an advocate and an ally.”