Coming from a traditional Mexican and Christian household, University of New Mexico student Uris Tapia-Flores experienced isolation as she grew into her identity as an LGBTQ+ individual, feeling separation from the communities that had once embraced her. Throughout her teen years and into college, Uris Tapia-Flores found queer acceptance and kinship through social media despite an unaccepting home life.
“(Being queer) is kind of hard because at home, I can’t really express myself the way I want to. I’m still in a Mexican household and I also grew up Christian,” Uris Tapia-Flores said. “At home, I can’t really express my queerness. Even if I do, the way I express myself is dressing myself the way I want to dress.”
More progress towards queer acceptance needs to happen in both the Christianity and Mexican communities, according to older sister Karyme Tapia-Flores. The machismo mindset, or exaggerated masculinity, is “very heavy in the Mexican community.”
Karyme Tapia-Flores attested to their strict conservative family dynamic, and said she is “the only one that supports (Uris) in the household.”
Although most of her family is unsupportive, Uris Tapia-Flores found love in a strong group of friends that have embraced her for who she is from middle school to the present, providing a support system where most of their family did not.
This year, Uris Tapia-Flores was looking forward to Albuquerque Pride 2021, an opportunity to shine with a shared community, and felt disappointment that the event was canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, Uris Tapia-Flores still plans to participate in pride events through UNM’s LGBTQ Resource Center.
As for an online presence, Uris Tapia-Flores expresses herself through social media platforms, such as Instagram and Tiktok, and intends to be a beacon of light for other queer folks online. Coming from an unforgiving family background, she found that social media was one of her only outlets to express being queer growing up.
“I didn’t know that there were people part of the (LGBTQ+) community here in Albuquerque. I thought I was doing this alone,” Uris Tapia-Flores said. “But, social media has helped a lot with reaching out to who’s a part of the community. Especially TikTok — when I joined TikTok, I was like ‘Whoa, there’s so many people out there.’”
Karyme Tapia-Flores said she is extremely proud of her younger sibling for being her fullest self, on and off social media.
“I’ve had a lot of self-reflection because I felt like I was trying to go by the book with my queerness, but there’s no rulebook to this,” Uris Tapia-Flores said. “Just be yourself.”
Rebecca Hobart is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @DailyLobo