Allan was featured in Out Magazine's 100 Men & Women who made 2007! They only had a little bit of information on him so I tracked him down to find out more. Enjoy!
Age: Allan Acevedo
Current Location: San Diego, CA
Height/Weight: 5'6'', 125
Relationship Status: Single
You were "outed" at a very young age at school and at home. How bad was it at school for you?
School was relatively easy. After the initial gossip and social stigma which is in most cases a staple of Middle School in any case things calmed down. I was a pretty much a nerd until I came out in 8th grade. Once I did come out and the initial surprise was over, I became something of a novelty among many of the girls and all wanted a gay best friend. So I made a lot of friends, and since the boys wanted to talk to the girls they acted cool with me in order to not anger any girls. It was an interesting social structure. I did have to deal with the occasional homophobic student which was physical or extremely vocal about his disapproval of the LGBT identity. I think dealing with these forms of marginalization and stigma, especially from the school administration, allowed me to grow up and mature a lot faster than most. This also gave me a lot more confidence in my abilities and once I reached high school I pursued several different interests in academia, extra curricular activities, community service, student government, and even competitive sports.
How did your parents take the news?
I can only interpret my parents' reactions from my own point of view. I told my mother I was gay while I was still in middle school. She told me it did not matter and that she still loved me. But I did not feel that her actions were exactly aligned with her words. She once made a joke to me about my older brother David, who is also gay. I remember once at her work her co-worker thought my boyfriend was my sister's boyfriend, and when I was about to correct him she asked me not to, and by the look in her face I could tell how embarrassed she would have been if I had said anything aloud. Since then she took a passive acceptance where she at least tolerated it. It wasn't until this summer when I spoke on a Spanish talk show on Univision called Cristina, did I notice her actively cheering for me and articulating her support of all the work I do and reiterating how proud she was of me. My father is a different story in which I did not actually tell him myself. When I complained about certain individuals harassing me on my middle school campus my middle school Vice Principal told me I had been seeking attention and now that I had it I did not want it; in essence, telling me it was my fault other students were harassing me. So he called my father and old him I was causing problems at school by telling people I was gay. My dad is very conservative Catholic from Mexico City, Mexico. He did not take it well. We've only spoken about it once, it was my Junior year in high school when I was living with him and needed his permission to attend a youth lobby day sponsored by the Gay-Straight Alliance Network. He told me he could not believe that I was gay and told me he could not believe I was gay. He told me I did not dress, act, or talk gay. He said I played sports and did not act effeminate. Basically, I did not conform to his idea of gay and therefore must just be rebelling against him. I personally think I'm rather gay, I dress trendy enough, and I think since my dad's English is poor we usually speak in Spanish and I have a different affect and cadence to my voice. I think I'm pretty gay though. Currently my father and I have not spoken since I moved out of my mother's house while still in high school. Despite being the first in my family to graduate high school with Honors and being the first one of his sons to attend a four-year university, he does not provide me any form of support.
Over the years how has your relationship with your family changed?
Over the years my mother and I have become closer while contrastly my father and I have become increasingly more estranged. The only other relationship that I feel has been directly affected is with my older sister, who just two years ago came out as lesbian. We've always held a strong rapport, but have in recent years bonded more closely.
What advice could you give to kids that are disowned for being gay?
I feel that we all need to find our inner strengths and drive to pursue whatever we want to in life. This courage should be innate and not dependent upon anyone else if someone is disowned or no longer being supported, especially monetarily, as is the case with my father, it is germane for you to be the best person who can be, not despite the fact that you are LGBT but because of it. It's necessary to show your family later on down the line that you are thriving and succeeding in all aspect of your life and that being LGBT is in no way inhibiting you. I know this is easier said than done, I know I could not where I am to day if it was not for the generous support of the LGBT community. As a community we stand in solidarity and there are myriad resources and services available to help anyone in need. I owe my ability to pursue my education to the Point Foundation and know if I did not have them that my life would be immensely different. So find the community around you and no that you'll never truly be alone.
At what point did you know that you would be involved in politics and can you share a little bit of your involvement?
My family and I moved to American when I was five and so that I could go to school. Dealing with compacted pressures of having to succeed in school and learn English I always had to deal with a societal stigma of not being a native English speaker. Going through six years of ESL and bilingual education classes I knew that the Latino community was often discriminated against. Later on when I came out as gay I began to meet other LGBT students which were not as lucky as I was in being able to find a strong support group and felt incredibly different and disillusioned. Because of my empathy and what inequalities I had seen in the world I knew I could not do anything but try to help people reach actual social, economic, and political equality. My first involvements were social, such as being a member of my high school's Gay Straight Alliance and serving on a steering committee here in San Diego planning an annual Youth Gay Pride event for the youth of San Diego County. From this it evolved into applying to serve as a Student Organizer for the National Jumpstart Student Leadership Team of the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN). I owe a huge thanks to GLSEN, it is because of them that I have been able to travel the country and speak about youth involvement in direct and grassroots organizing for civil rights. I just finished my third and last year working with GLSEN National and was a strong leader in my region when I finished. I also served as a Student Council member for the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) Networks' Southern California Council. One major accomplishment here was planning two very successful youth lobbying days in Sacaramento. We're done it for the past two years in March and have brought over 500 youth to lobby for specific bills which would make public schools safer and more affirming for all students regardless of real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, and or expression. Now that I am out of high school I actually serve on the governing board for the organization. Lately I have taken on a much more political roll such as serving as Co-Vice-President for the Stonewall Young Democrats of San Diego.
Do you think that gay marriage will play as large a roll in the current elections as it did 4 years ago?
I think marriage equality will take a less passive roll in this election as the candidate are not speaking out on their own opinions of sexuality. Watching the debates on youtube was disheartening, everything I heard was just well-rehearsed slogans and catch-phrases. No one articulated an immediate and adamant concern for the LGBT identity. No candidate has so far inpressed me with a blatant display or fervor and determination to create an entirely equitable society in which sexuality and gender are not an issue.
If you had to vote today for a president who would get your vote? Care to convince us?
No single presidential candidate has impressed me this far to fully convince me of my vote. I know I won't be voting for Obama, so I am keeping an eye on Cliton and Edwards.
You were in Out Magazine's 100 Men & Women who made 2007. What was it like to be included in that?
I felt very honored and frankly shocked to be included amongst such a group of prestigious and well known individuals. I did not understand the concept for the photo shoot so more than feel nervous, I just felt ridiculous holding a giant gold-plated tiara. I'm still a but nervous about it because I still have random people recognize me and I have already had some guys find me on Facebook. I don't mind it, it's sweet.
What are your goals for 2008?
For 2008 I want to focus a lot on school and finish all my GE classes. Even though I'm currently in my first college semester, I actually have Sophomore standing thank to all the Advance Placement (AP) tests I took in high school. I also hope to do a summer internship this summer, but don't know for whom yet. Hopefully I can get a better job, even though I do like working at Banana Republic, maybe I can get a job working for an elected official or something more relevant than what I am doing right now. Read a lot more books. I want to read more classical books; get my mile time down to under 5:00, I'm a distance runner so this has always been a challenge for me. Maybe...even find a boyfriend.
On the relationship side how do you find time to date or have a relationship when you are as busy as you are?
A lot of the things I do involve group activities and I like to meet guys with similar interests so we can do things together. I think if I found a guy that would want to do a beach clean up as a date, I'd melt. I also balance my time out fairly well so that if I did have someone to date we'd have plenty of time to hang out.
What do you like to do on your down time?
I like to go running. I also enjoy reading books; all sorts of genres, from classical, to LGBT, and more macabre themes as well. Being from So Cal, of course I love the beach. I also spend a lot of time at coffee shops. I hang out with cute lesbians. Food also comes to mind as a good pass-time. Txting is my #1, though.