This Inspirational, Out and Proud Spotlight brought to you by Rufino Cabang
Sexual Orientation – Gay
Gender Identity and Pronouns – he/him
When did you know?
I knew for sure that I was sexually attracted to men at around age 12. I’m sure I felt it before then, but that was the age when I knew I could define sexual attraction.
When did you come out?
To whom did you come out first?
My older sister Julie, who had already given me a preparatory awareness of gay culture because many of her closest friends have been gay people; and my friend Mary, on the bus going to the mall, when we were high school freshmen.
How did your closest friends and family react?
My closest friends were great with it; I mean, most of us were in high school drama and choir, so, there you go. My sister practically called me out on it (in a great way). My other sister and my brother have always been loving and supportive of my sexuality. But my mother took some time. She’s from an older world and a different generation.
Now, she and I have open, sometimes hilarious conversations and she genuinely and warmly loves my boyfriend. I have never been as close to my mother as I am now.
More intimate questions.
How has your life been enriched by the LGBTQ Community?
It’s inspired me to grow as a more accepting, loving and inclusive individual. I can be pretty eye-roll-y about things that I don’t understand, but being closer to others in my community has given me a broader and more appreciative perspective. I now work for the magazine THE FIGHT, which addresses political, cultural and social issues in the LGBTQ community. Working with my teammates, in service of a common good, has educated me in ways I never would have expected.
What are the common misconceptions about being LGBTQ?
That our every gesture or action is either extremely militant or extremely frivolous.
Describe the first time someone else read you (for better or worse) as LGBTQ. – Being called a “fag” in junior high school, for the first time, was jarring. I had no comeback. I knew the word was intended to be an insult, but I couldn’t deny that I was gay. Nor could I explain why there was nothing wrong with it. I just continued the day in shock (which has lasted to this day). It felt sickening to be labeled with such hatred. It confused, angered and hurt me.
Who was your first LGBTQ role model or elder, and how did they impact you?
My sister’s gay friends. She’s 11 years older than I am, so as a child I interacted with a lot of gay adults. Her best friend from that period is now one of my own dearest friends in the world. I wanted to model myself after so many of them but eventually I found my own path to adulthood. I love that I used to wonder what it would be like for me to be a grown-up, with relationships and problems and boyfriends and sex and all that. Now I realize, we’re all trying to figure things out, LGBT or not. Love yourself. Truly love yourself and you will find it easier to love others.
What is the biggest external issue or challenge facing the LGBTQ community today?
Trump, and all that that entails, encompasses and encourages. Trump. That means not only the man, but his family, his supporters and his fear-mongering.
The biggest internal issue or challenge?
Hierarchies within the LGBTQ community. The Fight recently shared a great article by Syd Peterson that explores cultural biases among our own. It’s titled “Where Do We Go from Here?” and I highly recommend it.
Are there any LGBTQ nonprofits whose work you especially admire?
Can’t single one out. So many do such great work. But I will say I’ve personally benefited from the Los Angeles LGBT Center.
Who is your personal Queer Hero?
Oh gosh. I’m picking two: Rachel Maddow’s up there. She epitomizes intelligence and insight. Ross Mathews is on the list, too. Ross is a living example of loving and living as exactly who you are, and sharing that light with others.
Do you have any advice for young queer folks who may still be defining their identity, coming out, or learning how to be their authentic selves in the world?
Don’t worry about being “unique.” You are, already, so just be yourself. Whether that means you wear the same clothes as other people or not, be true to yourself.
How are you involved in or how do you give back to the LGBTQ community?
I’m newly involved, really, at age 52. Growing older as a gay man, and working with THE FIGHT, has brought me closer not only to LGBT people but to our issues, needs and struggles. It’s an awareness I can apply to any marginalized group. And I love this new phase of my life. It feels like home because it IS home.