identities

First and Last Confession: What This Xicana Learned Marrying a Mexican

As a baby, I was baptized in the Catholic Church, but I hardly stepped foot in another Catholic Church, or any church, through my childhood, teen years, or into early adulthood. I joined a punk band instead, played drums, wrote lyrics about sexism, and toured the world with three other women. I never wanted to get married, but then I did. I married a man from Mexico, and we decided to make it official in his pueblo where his family could attend the wedding and finally see him after ten long years, but first, I’d have to do something else I thought I’d never do.

On the morning of the wedding ceremony, my brother in law told me that I had to go to confession.

Photo provided by Michelle Cruz Gonzales

I imagined a wooden closet the size of a phone booth with a screen over the window, like the one I had stumbled into by accident while looking for a pay phone, but I was directed to the priest’s office instead. He was sitting behind his desk and gestured for me to sit down in the empty chair. I wanted to reach up and touch my wedding pienado, the large looping Selena-bun on the top of my head, held in place with half a can of hairspray and about one hundred bobby pins, but I knew better.

“Shit, shit, shit,” was all I could think.

What if I didn’t understand him? What if he spoke that kind of rapid-fire Spanish that my college Spanish couldn’t keep up with? I had told my husband, the man that I had already been married to, by the state, for two years that I also wanted a traditional Mexican wedding.

Naively, I hadn’t quite realized that all this church stuff is what he thought I meant when what I really I meant was Mexico, his family, some birria, and Mariachis.

Photo provided by Michelle Cruz Gonzales

“How long has it been since your last confession,” the priest asked in Spanish, a phrase that I half understood and half expected.

“Um, nunca, nunca, he confesado,” I stammered not wanting to lie straight away.

“Nunca?”

Swallowing hard, I shook my head.

I was baptized as a baby, but that was it. Once my mother left my father, she left, Los Angeles, and in some ways, Mexican culture, and definitely religion, behind. I was only allowed (deemed eligible, by men, of course) to marry my husband in the Catholic Church because I had done six months of adult catechism in a supposed progressive Catholic church in the Bay Area. Six months of Tuesday nights talking about Jesus. I wouldn’t have minded six months of talking about La Virgen de Guadalupe, or even actually learning the rosary, or when to stand and sit in Mass, but six months of talking about Catholics, and the Bible, and Jesus just made it clear why I steered clear of religion in the first place: the holy trinity of male deities, too much patriarchy, and way too much misogyny. Still I’m Mexican, a Xicana, and I was marrying a Mexican national, I figured it wouldn’t kill me to learn more about the church, the rituals, and more about the interconnectedness between Mexican culture and its predominate religion.

Fortunately, my brother-in-law, Mario, who planned the wedding, had filled the priest in on my unique situation and I had been sent to Mexico with a letter from the local diocese that assured the Mexican priest I was eligible for the sacrament of marriage once he performed my first communion and confirmation. Fast forward sacraments, each would follow the other in quick succession, the first communion; hold this candle, sip this wine, and the confirmation; please, padre, I prayed silently, please don’t drip oil on my white dress, all performed before my immediate family just before the start of the wedding ceremony itself. It was a lot of waiting before I got my mariachis, but none of it would happen until I had my first and last confession.

The priest’s office was heavy and dark. The priest furrowed his brow, unsure of what to do or say, for I’m certain he’d never been in this situation before. I sat, my hands folded in my lap on my wedding gown, watching him decide what to do, nervous that he’d expect me to recite some prayer in Spanish that I had never even said in English.

“Entonces, dime has sido una hija obediente?”

Photo provided by Michelle Cruz Gonzales

Had I been an obedient daughter? To whom? My wife-beater father who I never knew? My mind raced for a suitable answer and the right words to express them within a language that I struggled to speak smoothly, and I decided I didn’t need to count my father.

“Si, Padre,” I said, though no one had used the word obedient to describe me since I was in the first grade. I wanted to crack with laughter, but I knew this wasn’t the time.

“Has sido una hermana buena con tus hermanos?”

“Si, Padre,” I said, even though I had told my blonde sister she was adopted, and beat up my brother when we fought until he grew taller than me.

“Muy bien,” he said, and he blessed me, presided over my first communion, confirmed me, and married me to my husband in his family’s church, which brought great joy and comfort to his family who hadn’t seen him in ten years because he wasn’t a citizen, couldn’t travel back and forth, having been undocumented all that time. So I knelt, and I stood, and I stood, and I knelt, and squeezed my husband’s hand, and sweated in my heavy gown, and mouthed, “watermelon, watermelon, watermelon,” while everyone else recited prayers memorized from childhood. And I stared up at the towering Jesus on the cross, unable to escape his sad eyes and the irony of it all, until we busted from the church and into the loving arms of family, a showering of rice, and the celebratory sounds of Mariachi horns all around us.


Read: For Three Years I Fought My Sexual Assault Case, And Now I’ve Won

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Salty MLB Star Accused Arod of Cheating On JLo Days After Their Engagement, TBD If Anyone Cares

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Salty MLB Star Accused Arod of Cheating On JLo Days After Their Engagement, TBD If Anyone Cares

Latina queen Jennifer Lopez and retired baseball superstar Alex Rodriguez recently became engaged--meaning that Latinidad has an official King and Queen to worship until the end of days. Needless to say, fans and followers alike have been flooding their respective Instagram pages with messages of congratulations and well-wishes.

For the two years that they’ve been dating, J-Lo and A-Rod have shared their lives with the public through their social media accounts, giving us a glimpse into the loving relationship that Lopez has called her “first ever good relationship”. Their Instagram profiles are sprinkled with pictures of them jet-setting, attending premieres and galas, and taking mixed-family vacations in exotic locales together. In other words, they’re very publicly living their best lives together.

However, a wrench was thrown into their happily-ever-after Sunday night when former MLB player Jose Canseco publicly accused A-Rod of cheating on Jennifer Lopez with his ex-wife, Jessica Canseco. In light of all this drama, we’ve compiled the definitive timeline of Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez’s relationship, all they way from friends to fiances. Take a look!

May 2005

@n12jamiestuart/Twitter

Before the Puerto-Rican triple threat and the Dominican All-Star were Hollywood’s reigning It Couple, they were mere acquaintances. The pair first met in 2005 at a Yankees vs. Mets Baseball game. At the time, Rodriguez was married to his first wife, Cynthia Scurtis, while Lopez was still married to Marc Anthony.

February 2017

@1FREEGRL/Twitter

Lopez and Rodriguez reconnected twelve years later when they ran into each other at a restaurant. According to Lopez, they briefly said hello, but it was her who couldn’t resist continuing the conversations. “After [lunch] I went outside,” she said. “And for some reason I felt like tapping him on the shoulder”. He then asked her out to dinner via text.

March 2017

@jlo / Instagram

By March 2017, neither J-Lo nor A-Rod were trying to hide the fact that they were dating. During the month, they were spotted vacationing together in The Bahamas. ARod’s sister also posted a selfie of herself with JLo, captioning it #miscuñis, which means things were moving along pretty nicely.

March 31st, 2017

@jlo / Instagram

When co-hosting “The View” at the end of March, Rodriguez had only great things to say about his new lady love: “She’s an amazing girl. We’re having a great time”. He also went on to say that J-Lo was “one of the smartest human beings I’ve ever met”. And he didn’t stop there! He showered on the compliments by calling her “an incredible mother” who “loves family”.

April 2017

@nicole_hurley/Instagram

By April, it was J-Lo’s turn to gush about her boo-thing on the talk-show circuit. While being grilled about her new boyfriend by Ellen (naturally), Lopez called Rodriguez “a great guy,” this 100% confirming their relationship.

May 2017

@2015smetgala/Twitter

Never one to do things half-heartedly, Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez made their public debut as a couple at arguably the most prestigious event in the world: the Met Gala, of course. This occasion also marked J-Lo’s debut on A-Rod’s Instagram–and the first of many.

June 2017

@arod / Instagram

By June 2017, it was obvious to the world that this couple was the real deal. Not only was Rodriguez gushing to the press that Jennifer was the ideal role model for his daughters, the pair was also taking glamorous European trips together and posting their adventures to their millions of followers on Instagram.

September 2017

@nicole_hurley/Instagram

We all know that one of the most crucial steps of a relationship is when your signficant other accompanies you to a work event. Lopez and Rodriguez crossed this milestone when A-Rod accompanied her to the premiere of “World of Dance”–a show she stars in and produces. It’s for reasons like this that A-Rod calls her “one of the most brilliant business minds that [he’s] ever met”!

November 2017

@nicole_hurley/Instagram

J-Lo and A-Rod took their relationship a step further when they spent Thanksgiving together in Rodriguez’s home. On Instagram, they shared with their followers that this was one of the many times they combined families for the holiday–further proof that they were very confident with where their relationship was.

December 2017

@arod/Instagram

Along with the power couple’s magazine cover debut on the December issue of “Vanity Fair”, the duo also debuted their new (and catchy) portmanteau: J-Rod (we’re pretty sure they had it trademarked before they went public).

January 2018

@arod/Instagram

Lopez and Rodriguez showed their Latinx pride by visiting Puerto Rico in January after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.

February 2018

@harpersbazaarus/Instagram

In the March issue of Harper’s Bazaar, JLo got candid about her relationship with A-Rod and addressed the possibility of a wedding on the horizon. “I do believe in marriage,” she said. “And I would love to grow old with somebody in a committed relationship. But I’m not forcing anything right now. It’s good, it’s healthy; we communicate well…We have a similar makeup.” All signs point to yes!

May 7, 2018

@Balmain/Twitter

JLo and A-Rod attended their second Met Gala as a couple in matching couture Balmain outfits, cementing their status as style icons.

July 2018

@arod/Instagram

Lopez and Rodriguez spent her 49th birthday in one of their go-to vacation spots: The Bahamas. A-Rod took to Instagram to share a cute pic of their blended family on vacation along with a heartfelt tribute to his lady love. ” For someone who has been about giving everything she has 365 days a year—to our children, our families, the world,” he said. “I hope today, we can give you all the happiness you deserve. I love you mucho”.

August 2018

@KissChattanooga/Twitter

A-Rod’s reaction to JLo’s epic VMA’s performance last August became a viral sensation, as his pride over his girlfriend’s triple-threat skills were all too apparent. Twitter was full of women wanting a man who looks at them like ARod looks at JLo.

October 2018

@jrod_rodriguez13/Instagram

A-Rod continued to support his girlfriend by attending events that were obviously important to her. In October, Rodriguez accompanied Lopez to Elle’s famous “Women in Hollywood” event. That night, he posted a supportive message to JLo on his Instagram: “With two young daughters and a woman I admire by my side, I know how important it is that we raise women up and teach our girls that there is no limit to what they can do.”

December 2018

@arod/Instagram

According to their Instagram accounts, J-Rod spent New Years eve in Malibu, again with their blended family. Rodriguez’s caption read: “As the sun sets on 2018, from our family to yours … #HappyNewYear everyone!”.

February 2019

@arod/Instagram

Lopez took her athlete-beau to the ultimate glamour event: The Oscars. The two shined in evening wear and Rodriguez was solidly by her side while she strutted the red carpet and presented awards.

March 2019

@arod/Instagram

On March 9th, J-Rod announced that they were engaged with mutual Instagram posts sharing the news. The Instagram posts showed off the 15-carat emerald-cut diamond engagement ring, which is reported to be worth up to a cool $5 million.

March 10th, 2019

@JoseCanseco / Twitter

On Sunday night, former Major League Baseball player Jose Canseco accused A-Rod of cheating on J.Lo with his ex-wife, Jennifer Canseco. Before we get ahead of ourselves, it’s important to realize that Canseco has a history of making some pretty out-there statements (i.e. asking his Twitter followers to “spend the day with me and my alien Buddies”and insisting that he’s acquainted with “Bigfoot and a real alien”). In other words: there’s reason to doubt his word.

As of now, both JLo and ARod have remained silent in response to these explosive allegations, so there’s no way of knowing the veracity of the claims. Until then, all we can do is speculate and hope for the best!


Read: Salma Hayek Says Those Who Are Skeptical About Her Marriage To French Billionaire Are “Showing Racism”

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I Chose To Keep My Last Name When I Got Married Because I Wanted To Hold Onto The Latinidad My Own Name Gives Me

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I Chose To Keep My Last Name When I Got Married Because I Wanted To Hold Onto The Latinidad My Own Name Gives Me

When people first look at me, they don’t think I’m Mexican, let alone Latina.

Because I am white-passing, I make it a point to let everyone know that I am, in fact, not white. When people first meet me, our conversations usually go like this: “Can I ask what you are?” and “You must be half, right?” “Oh, you’re Latina! I had no idea.” Even if people are unsure of “what I am,” I let them know real quick by the way I say my last name.

So imagine my dilemma when I was getting married to a white man. I know that sounds bad, but hear me out. I started worrying about whether or not I would change my last name. Instead of freaking out over which flowers my bouquet would have or what food we’d serve, I was stressed about changing my last name.

“Would I get rid of my last name completely or would I hyphenate it,” I thought. Even as I dabbled with the idea of hyphenating my last name with his, it didn’t sit right with me. Thankfully, it didn’t sit right with my partner either.

If I took my husband’s last name, not only would people assume that I’m 100% white, because as I mentioned before, that’s already something I have to deal with, but now people wouldn’t question it. They would hear my name and question nothing. I’d rather people inquire about my identity than not at all.

For me, everything that I knew about my identity and what I was most proud of would disappear as soon as I introduced myself. The thought of not being able to say my last name after marriage was nerve-racking. I couldn’t sleep thinking about it. How would I introduce myself? Would I awkwardly plug that fun fact into my conversation? These were the questions raced through my head at night.

While I was stressing out about my possible name change, my partner is the one who actually suggested I keep my last name. He reminded me that we could do whatever we wanted. We didn’t have to follow an outdated tradition because it was our marriage, after all.

Credit: @alyssawritesxo / Instagram / @delanieandco

If you haven’t noticed by now, my last name means everything to me. In the same way that people strongly identify with their hair, that’s how I feel when it comes to my last name. It’s who I am and it’s what makes me, me. I’m proud of it.

My last name isn’t that common either, so I’ve always loved how unique it is. My grandfather from my dad’s side always said his last name with pride, and I like to think that he instilled that in me. He grew up in a time when Latinos weren’t allowed to speak Spanish, but the one way he rebelled was by the way he pronounced his name. Because of that, I’ve never pronounced my last name “white-sounding.” By that, I mean that I actually pronounce my name in Spanish, the way my grandfather taught me to say it.

It doesn’t matter who I’m talking to, I’ll never change the way I prounounce it. I could be at the DMV, introducing myself to new coworkers, or confirming my attendance at a bougie event, I don’t care, I’m introducing myself in Spanish. Me vale.

You will never catch me saying my last name in an English way in order for non-Latinos to understand it. If anything, I make it a point to say it con fuerte. I emphasize each letter, drag out each syllable, and say it loudly for the people in the back. Another thing I do is that I always roll the “r” in my last name, and sometimes, I even let it linger. I want it to sink in, so people know that I’m Latina. To some, my skin color might tell a different story, but my last name does not.

 Credit: @alyssawritesxo / Instagram

Once I realized that I was in control of keeping my last name and that my husband was on board with my decision, I felt at peace. I didn’t have to worry about losing my identity or the one thing that matters to me the most.

Just because I was getting married didn’t mean I had to change who I was. I didn’t have to lose my last name because of some old tradition or because of what seems like the normal thing to do.

Keeping my last name was the best decision I’ve ever had to make, like ever. This was the one time when I really listened to my intuition, and if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have been happy—and that’s not how I would want my marriage to start. On that note, I know that I’m lucky to have a husband who was completely okay with my choice. Although, even if he wasn’t fully on board with me keeping my last name, it wouldn’t have been his decision to make.

Credit: @alyssawritesxo /  Instagram / @delanieandco

Losing a huge part of myself would hurt too much, and deep in my heart, I would not feel like myself. I would get rid of the single most important thing that makes me who I am.

Tossing away my last name would completely strip me of my identity, and it would make me feel like I erased my Mexican ancestry. Like I said before, no one would think twice about my ethnicity, and I’d rather have people confused as to what I might be than to assume I’m nothing at all.

For me, my last name is what ties me to my roots. It’s also a reminder that I’m privileged. I can say my last name in Spanish. Unlike me, my grandfather didn’t always have that luxury. He said our last name with defiance. Because of that history, I’m able to say my name with honor.

Credit: Alyssa Morin

My last name is what reminds me—and everyone else—of my heritage.

Read: She Struggled To Pay For College Because She Was Undocumented, So This Latina Created An App To Make The Process Easier For The Next Generation

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