Tal Como Somos (Just As We Are)

This documentary follows LGBTQ+ Latinx people, predominantly gay men, providing a look into their lives and experiences of being both Latinx and LGBTQ. The people the documentary focuses on talk about their struggles and joys, including HIV, homophobia, transphobia, marriage, family, and love.

0:00Copy video clip URL Music plays as the camera pans over household objects and an altar, including photographs, candles, a baseball mitt, an 8 ball, and a doll in a huipil dress.

1:38Copy video clip URL The title card plays, transitioning into the beginning of the documentary. A family gathers outside as Agustín Valdovinos talks about his family’s tradition of visiting his mother, her husband Larry, and his sister, Rosemary, on Sunday.

2:27Copy video clip URL Agustín’s mother talks about how much Agustín, who she affectionately calls “Agus,” means to her. In front of the house, the family says goodbye to one another.

3:01Copy video clip URL In Chicago, Illinois, the camera follows Agustín Valdovinos as he goes about his day, giving us a quick introduction to who he is, mentioning his birth in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico before moving on to his goal-driven approach to work. He and his boyfriend, Marcelo Romero, who he has dated for the past eight years, have recently been considering adopting children. 

4:10Copy video clip URL Valdovinos returns home to Romero. The two greet each other. “What I love about Gus is, God, there’s just a lot of things,” says Romero. “I mean, we have our ups and downs, of course. He brings me down to earth. He takes care of me. I can see that the qualities of the person that he is is what I want. That he values family. That he wants to have a family. God, there’s so many things that I love about him. He fulfills me in a lot of layers in my life.”

5:14Copy video clip URL The two take their dog for a walk. Valdovinos thinks back to meeting Romero and a past breakup they had. “At the moment, I said, ‘you know what? We’re too different. We’re not compatible. I can’t work with someone who’s so different from I am.’ But then I realized that’s what makes us so strong.” Valdovinos explains that one of their biggest differences is religion; Romero is a devout Christian, while Valdovinos has a troubled past with Catholicism. 

6:32Copy video clip URL Romero talks about the struggle that comes with being both gay and Catholic, while Valdovinos explains how the church’s homophobia pushed him away. Romero talks about how religion also brings him peace, and provides his thoughts on why Valdovinos does not find community and peace in the church. “He sees more of the politics, the injustices, and how does the church expect us to be good practicing when they don’t practice their own teachings.”

9:25Copy video clip URL “Ultimately what I feel inside is nothing dirty, nothing bad,” says Romero, though Valdovinos insists that the situation was different when the two of them first met. Romero talks about his past internal conflict over his identity, telling the story of how his father came to accept Romero’s sexual identity. “Who am I to judge God’s work? God makes perfection, and if this is how he’s supposed to be, then he was okay with it.” Romero talks about how acceptance felt like it took a huge weight off of his chest.

11:45Copy video clip URL More clips from the Valdovinos’ family garden party plays. Valdovinos talks about his family. “My family is very passionate and the feeling is that we do everything in excess. Happiness in excess, crying in excess, anger in excess, feelings in excess.” Valdovinos talks about past physical abuse in his family, as well as the story of coming out to his mother, Valdovinos’s mother chiming in throughout.

14:55Copy video clip URL “We have a culture that is grounded on religion, a catholic religion at that. It doesn’t allow people to understand issues of sexuality in the way that they need to be understood,” says Romero.

15:08Copy video clip URL The documentary switches focus to Dusty Rajo, born in Panama and living in San Francisco. Rajo explains his job working for the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, where he works to provide asylum to LGBTQ+ individuals.

15:59Copy video clip URL Rajo returns home to his husband and children. “Once I became a father and started to deal with the issue of being gay, being Latino, and being a father, I realized that if I wanted my kids to live in a world without homophobia, I had to contribute in some way to change,” Rajo says, going over his history in advocacy organizations.

17:27Copy video clip URL Rajo goes over specific issues affecting families. 

17:54Copy video clip URL At a gay event, couples dance and chat. Oscar Trujillo, born in Skokie, Illinois to Cuban Parents, has lived in San Francisco for the past ten years. Trujillo talks about his decision to come to San Francisco, touching on his experience in the city as a queer Latino.

18:44Copy video clip URL Trujillo explains how the word “queer” reflects his sexual identity. “For me, it’s a way to be more ambiguous. It means I’m out, I’m this kind of person in the culture, but you don’t know what that means, necessarily.”

19:09Copy video clip URL “I think being here in San Francisco is what forced me to deal with what the idea of Cuban American is, because there is such a strong Latino community here, particularly Chicano community,” says Trujillo, as he traverses the city, before talking about his experience of being like “a bridge between two cultures,” and his goal to create his own identity. Trujillo talks about “gay bashing” in American culture and how the homophobia he dealt with while growing up affected and continues to affect him.

21:54Copy video clip URL Trujillo recounts the story of coming out to his parents, including his prior fear of not being accepted.

22:24Copy video clip URL In New York City, David Lopez, born in San Francisco, California, talks about growing up gay. “I’d rather not remember elementary school,” says Lopez, laughing. “It seemed like everyone knew except myself. Everyone was calling me something, and I didn’t know what it was. So it was terrible.” Lopez talks about living in Astoria, and how much better the neighborhood suits him than his past neighborhood in San Francisco.

23:42Copy video clip URL Lopez tells the story of being kissed by another boy in the third grade and the bullying he endured afterward. He highlights the uselessness of his teachers in stopping the bullying.

25:51Copy video clip URL On the streets of New York, an older man plays guitar and sings. Lopez lists his favorite things about living in New York. Lopez talks about his best qualities and explains his work at an aid service organization coordinating an outreach and education program. At his work desk, Lopez holds up pictures of his mother, one of his first girlfriends, and one of the first guys he dated. “I guess it was one of those hard puppy love lessons. One of the hardest lessons [that I learned] is just how to love another guy and how challenging it was for me. I was glad I was able to learn those lessons with him.” Lopez also points out a poem sitting on his desk: Cultivo Una Rosa Blanca by José Martí.

28:36Copy video clip URL Lopez talks with friends in a meeting as he enthuses about the wonderful things in his life, from work to friends (particularly two of his coworkers and close friends, Stacy and Robin), to the accepting environment he lives in. 

30:19Copy video clip URL Lopez talks about who he was in high school as he grappled with and largely denied his own identity, in response, in part, to the bullying he faced in grade school, and his eventual realization of his own gayness. “I believe that the consequence of this discrimination and abuse can cause many people to commit suicide because they don’t see a way out, they don’t see a way to resolve the problem.” Lopez also touches on his struggles with suicidal ideation.

33:28Copy video clip URL Rajo touches on the process of queer youth coming out to their parents, particularly in Latinx families. Lopez explains how his mother found out about his gayness and her resistance to accepting him. “For many gays, lesbians, and transgender people who experience rejection at home, there’s no other way but to eventually create our own homes and our own communities. I think when people even leave their country and go somewhere else, they’re looking for a community. They’re looking for a new home, and eventually, they’ll find it,” says Rajo, as the documentary transitions to the next spotlighted individual.

36:59Copy video clip URL In the Washington, D.C. area, Ernesto Jose Cedeño Rodigruez and his cousin head out to a horse ranch. Rodriguez talks about his long-held passion for riding horses. His cousin talks about how much he cares for Rodriguez, and the two discuss Rodriguez’s struggle with HIV. Rodriguez talks about how difficult it was to buy medication in Venezuela and how his cousin helped him come to live in the United States, where it was easier to acquire medicine.

39:59Copy video clip URL Rodriguez takes a walk through the city, mentioning that he considers himself bisexual. “I have had long relationships with women, whom I loved a lot. And I also fell in love with men, perhaps. But, for many reasons, it was less obvious, and these relationships were not possible. It’s a love that is kept quiet, concealed as a good friendship.” Rodriguez discusses the particular way homophobia affects Latino men. Rajo and Rodriguez talk about the dangers of accidental transmission of HIV. Rajo explains how having HIV and being gay can double the impact young men have to deal with. 

42:30Copy video clip URL Rodriguez explains his initial reaction to finding out he had HIV, and how religious guilt impacted him. As Rodriguez explains how he still has yet to come out to most people back in Venezuela, Rajo discusses the intricacies of deciding to come out or not.

43:53Copy video clip URL Rodriguez stretches. His voice-over talks about his daily life in the States and being out of the closet in America.

45:10Copy video clip URL Rodriguez leaves for work, enthusing about his job at La Clinica del Pueblo, where he works as a health educator in a program under the HIV department. He mentions how liberating being a part of gay communities can be. “I feel that God has been so generous with me and part of this generosity includes the HIV virus because after this I started living. I began to be myself. I’ve had the opportunity to do the work that I was born to do, I believe. I love my work with the community and with people. It has all been a consequence of the diagnosis, to be openly bisexual here, the power to be contemplating talking to my family about it.”

46:40Copy video clip URL Rodriguez and his coworker, Gabriela Garcia-Ibarra, discuss how to bring more people in to get tested for HIV. “One of the reasons, I think, that infections continue and each day more people become infected is because of this: that those of us who live with the virus are hidden, and we don’t show our face. Therefore, it’s a gift to be able to talk about this.” Garcia-Ibarra and Rodriguez talk about her recent marriage as the focus shifts to her. 

48:43Copy video clip URL Garcia-Ibarra talks about her husband, Javier. Javier, from El Salvador, expresses affection for Garcia-Ibarra, who he affectionately calls “Gabi,” explaining how Gabi is not out as transgender. 

50:05Copy video clip URL Garcia-Ibarra talks about her roots in Mexico City and her current work as a coordinator for a program for transgender women. Garcia-Ibarra talks with the women in the program about the dangers they face being transgender, and privately provides her own past struggles with discrimination, as well as her provess transitioning. Garcia-Ibarra, her mother, and her sibling share vignettes from Garcia-Ibarra’s process of realizing that she was transgender. Garcia-Ibarra shares stories about her struggles being accepted by her mother and her past struggles with substance abuse.

56:52Copy video clip URL Rajo explains his belief that stigma can destroy one’s self-esteem as Garcia-Ibarra and her mother talk about her mother’s eventual acceptance of her identity. 

59:03Copy video clip URL Garcia-Ibarra talks about the confidence boost that came from beginning to compete in shows. She explains her success in the shows and also how the environment caused her to relapse into drug abuse. She talks about how Javier made her stop doing shows, how she has been clean for the past two years, and her work to try and keep young transgender women from also falling into addiction.

1:02:16Copy video clip URL In San Francisco, Oscar Trujillo leads a dance class as he discusses how grateful he is to have the life he has and how his identities show up within his artistic expression. “I couldn’t try to pass if I wanted to, so it’s just always been an issue in my life. For me, it would be to be like, okay, everyone else has the power to define who I am and to say how I am in a negative light, as opposed to me claiming that in a positive way.”

1:04:19Copy video clip URL Trujillo talks about the process of maintaining his Spanish and his struggles to be accepted by his mother. Trujillo and his significant other explains how homophobia appears in Latino communities specifically. The different participants in the documentary share final thoughts about their identities and their specific lived experience as queer, Latinx people.

1:07:22Copy video clip URL Credits play as participants talk about themselves and their dreams for the future.



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