Coming out is a momentous and extremely personal moment for anyone. For some, the moment a person comes out to their parents can be filled with acceptance and understanding. However, for others, it can be a time of pain and complicated feelings especially for those with more conservative values.
Celebrities are no different to these kinds of moments. Latin singer Gloria Estefan opened up about her daughter’s coming out journey and how it affected her family.
During a new episode of the HBO Max and CNN series — Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace? — Estefan, 65, opened up to Wallace about her hesitations surrounding her daughter, Emily, 27, coming out to her grandmother before she died. Ultimately, she didn’t want her daughter to reveal her sexuality to her grandmother for a “complicated” reason. And Emily never came out to her.
“In the Latin community, a lot of these subjects aren’t touched, they’re taboo,” Estefan shared with Wallace. “People see — but they don’t want to talk about it, they don’t want to see it.”
This is not the first time that Estefan has discussed her daughter’s sexuality — and how her reponse to it has affected their relationship.
In 2020, during an episode of Red Table Talk: The Estefans, Estefan and Emily spoke about the tension in the family surrounding Emily coming out. In the episode, Estefan explained that she wasn’t ashamed of her daughter but had cautioned Emily about her approach to coming out to her grandmother. She wanted her daughter to consider her mother’s (Emily’s grandmother’s) declining health. She has since passed.
“We’ve been very very open about the support for the LGBTQ community our entire lives and at the same time, I had a mother with ulcerative colitis that even if I brought up a bill — or something that was not even important — would get very upset,” she added about her mother, Gloria Fajardo, who was 88 at the time of her death.
The moment was a clear point of tension for the mother-daughter duo. Emily told The Real at the beginning of 2022 that she regrets never being able to tell her grandmother that she was in a relationship with a woman.
“By the time I was ready to say ‘Hey, I’m in love with this girl, this is what happened,’ they were like, ‘Oh, I already knew that,’” she recounted. “And it was painful because you need to get ready for that experience.”
She said that her grandmother died and she “never got to share it with her because people were afraid.”
She then echoed what her mom had expressed during their Red Table Talk episode on Emily’s coming out — she thought that the news would harm her mother’s health.
“My mom told me, ‘If you tell your grandma and she passes away, that’s going to be your fault,’” she said. “And I know that she was just trying to protect me and now we understand it’s just a fierce love and protection for the people that you love, but that in that moment was difficult for me to hear.”
“I never told her and she passed away, and that’s the one thing I regret,” she continued. “But I know she knew. I know she knew because we had a really incredible relationship. And that’s the one thing I say: you can’t let anybody take you from your path. You gotta be yourself.”
Since that episode, Estefan has apologized to her daughter, and the two have been going to therapy.
Estefan told the Sunday Times that she and her daughter have been in therapy together.
“Sometimes it’s just an objective ear that is not emotionally invested in your pain that is important. For Emily and me, it was incredibly useful to have someone there while we were discussing things and pointing things out. It was healing,” she said.
At the end of the day, Estefan spoke of the love she has for her daughter and how proud she is of her for chasing her dreams of being a singer. She’s even featured on Estefan’s new album, Estefan Family Christmas.
“All I’ve told her always is do what you’re passionate about. You have to do what makes you happy,” Estefan said. “And that is what she’s doing.”