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Confronting expectations of machismo in Latino community

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Jose Castillo Jimenez came to the United States from Venezuela when he was 4 years old.

He says he grew up around men and women who expected him to act a certain way, which made it harder for him to come to terms with his sexual orientation. In the Latino community, it’s a lot really about manhood, machismo, a man’s traditional role.

“I had some, maybe some flamboyant tendencies, that weren’t really for like a boy. So I always felt like I had to prove myself because I would hear some comments growing up. So I always wanted to have the best-looking girlfriend,” said Jimenez, an Indianapolis resident.

“I don’t feel like I need to do that or prove myself that I’m man enough to anybody,” Jimenez said.

He was a youth leader and grew up close to his mom, but things quickly changed after somebody spotted him on a dating app.

“I arrived home. I remember this day vividly. I got there and it was my whole family. My mom, my aunt, my grandpa, my dad. My pastor was there and I had just come home from work and they were all there just waiting to talk to me,” Jimenez said.

Despite some challenges, he’s now becoming his most authentic self and he wants to show support for others struggling to do just that.

“To give that little brown boy or brown girl some hope. Like, it gets better. You just got to go through it and you’ll be happy,” Jimenez said.

According to Maria Preston, a prevention specialist for the Damien Center, there’s a lot of machismo in the Latino community.

“A lot of men are expected to be married, you have kids around your house and you are the man of the house and you’re supposed to stick with those expectations,” Preston said.

And as a result of this masculine domination, Preston says a lot of men are struggling with things like depression. The Damien Center is offering support and resources.

Castillo says he’s hopeful about the future.

“I just want to bring more brown, more Black, more Latinos to the table, especially when it comes to pride,” Jimenez said.