When I was growing up, my cousins referred to me as a coconut. Brown on the outside, white on the inside. I spoke Spanish with an accent, went to school with mostly white kids and my mom drove a Mercedes.

I never knew what to say to this accusation because I’m mean, not stupid. I thought, “Well you’re poor and live in an ugly house and go to public school, and your mom’s car is avocado green.”

Had I said that, I would have confirmed the coconut status. Instead I said, “No I’m not. I’m Mexican too.”

My cousins didn’t know that some of my white classmates teased me for my year-round tan. That I knew even back then that I was gay. And that I knew that neither they nor anyone in my Episcopal primary school, or even my parents for that matter, could comprehend a young gay coconut.

I wasn’t raised in a traditional Mexican-American household. We didn’t attend church. I had only one sibling, and our parents didn’t tell us that we had to be a certain way. The world was there to be explored.

So I got interested in “white things” like jazz, vegetarianism and mid-century modern furniture design–and “gay things” like The Carpenters, hotel upgrades and Miss Piggy.

I stayed true to my heritage too. I know how to make a mean guacamole, love Mexico City and listen to all those sad Agustin Lara boleros. My partner sometimes says, “Look, I love your papas con huevo, but could we please not listen to moody Mexican music this morning?’

Now I find myself in Hong Kong after four years in Tokyo. And this after never wanting to leave New York and my beloved restaurants, parks and friends. My partner is white. I’m currently a homemaker. I buy things like tofu and vegetarian eggs (how does the farmer know the chicken didn’t eat a worm when he wasn’t looking), and just attended my first David Byrne concert. Incidentally, I’ve never seen so many white people in one room in my life, Asia or otherwise.

We go to the opera, like to visit Macau mostly for the colonial architecture (at least I do), have brunch on Sunday, read the FT, like martinis at swank hotel bars, and hope to visit India later this year–you know, white/gay/coconut things.

My partner likes to say to me, “You’re whiter than me!”

He also likes to say that I exaggerate when discussing how prejudice the U.S. can still be. He doesn’t get it. He’ll never get it. that look from a salesperson when he enters the Gucci in Houston with his sister. He’ll never know what it’s like for an old Caucasian person to stare at you because you’re sitting in first-class and he’s not. He’ll never know what it’s like to get the question, “Where are you from? No, really?”

But he saw me cry when Obama was elected president. I had no idea I was going to cry because I had no idea Obama would win, could win. Maybe I don’t get it.

Gay coconut expats of the world rejoice!

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