Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Marco Jara, March 7, 2019

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:04 - Introduction

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Partial Transcript: Okay, so my name is Nicole Strunk and this an oral history interview, um, on March 7, 2019.

Segment Synopsis: Nicole Strunk is a West Chester University Student. She is Interviewing Marco Jara who is an immigrant from Mexico. Jara is sharing some of his life story and his experience as an immigrant in the United States. This interview is occurring at the Independence Branch Library in Philadelphia.

00:00:28 - Childhood and family

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Partial Transcript: Um, can you tell me a little bit about your childhood?

Segment Synopsis: Jara says that as a child he lived in Mexico City with his grandparents, his three brothers, his sister, and his two aunts. He also remembers that he loved dancing to disco music and playing with his neighbors. Jara explains that there were not video games and internet at the time, so to have fun he and his friends would have to go out to the park and play. When asked about his family, Jara explains that his parents did not always have a good relationship, so they decided to get a divorce. Then, when he turned ten years old, he moved with his mother and the rest of his family, except for his father.

Keywords: Big family; Divorce; Grandparents; Internet; Mexico City, Mexico; Video games

Subjects: Childhood; Families.; Mexico City (Mexico); Recreation

00:03:00 - Jara's first house and second house

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Partial Transcript: Can you tell me about your first house? Do you remember where--

Segment Synopsis: Jara describes his first house as a small third floor apartment with two rooms, a kitchen, a bathroom and a small patio where his mother used to wash dishes. Jara and his family lived in the apartment until he was eight years old. He explains that his second house was bigger than the apartment. In the second house, each person had their own room, the house had two floors, and it was very nicely decorated. At his second house, they were able to have chickens, cats and dogs. Jara explains that although the second house was not exactly in Mexico City, it was only an hour drive away.

Keywords: Animals; Apartments; Education; Elementary schools; House-building; Metropolitan; Middle schools

Subjects: Childhood; Families.; Mexico City (Mexico)

00:06:55 - Family members' occupations

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Partial Transcript: What did your parents do?

Segment Synopsis: Jara shares that his mother did not regularly work outside the home. His grandparents ran a grocery store from their home, and his aunts who also lived with the family worked at a factory making underwear. Jara's father worked for four years as a politician in the Industrial Revolutionary Party (PRI), which was the most popular political party in Mexico at the time, working in a tax collecting agency for the municipality of Naucalpa. Although Jara was not in favor of his father's career, since he did not have a good relationship with his father, it did not affect him as much.

Keywords: Enrique Pena Nieto; Fabric; Grocery stores; Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI); Naucalpa, Mexico; Politicians; Unemployed

Subjects: Childhood; Employment; Families.; Mexico City (Mexico); Naucalpa (Mexico); Occupations; Politics and government

00:09:52 - Relationship with his father / His father's death

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Partial Transcript: Does he still do that?

Segment Synopsis: Jara explains that he had a closer relationship with his grandfather, who he lived with, than he did with his father. He recalls when his mother called him while he was living in Cancun to tell him that his father passed away; Jara had seen him one year prior and had a good conversation, but he felt very strange upon hearing about his death. Jara also explains that it was difficult not having his father nearby while growing up. He explains that he lived with his grandfather, and he loved him, but there was still a father figure missing.

Keywords: Deaths; Family; Fathers; Grandfathers; Grief; Mourning; Psychologists; Relationships

Subjects: Childhood; Families.

00:14:02 - Relationship with his grandfather

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Partial Transcript: You've talked a lot about your grandfather.

Segment Synopsis: Jara describes his grandfather as a hero. His grandfather had no formal education, but was a hard worker, having jobs in construction, factories, making water ice, and selling balloons in the park. He recalls that he was a good cook and always had a smile, and was a good host to visitors. Jara adopted these traits in his own work in customer service. He remembers a particular Christmas at age 28 at which his grandfather played music on the guitar, and then gave him a huge hug, acknowledging Jara's homosexuality.

Keywords: Construction; Cooking; Customer service; Dropping out; Education; Factory workers; Hardworking; Heroes; Homosexuality; Hosts; Smiles

Subjects: Childhood; Coming out (Sexual orientation); Employment; Families.; Gay men--Family relationships; Gay men.; Homosexuality--Social aspects.; Occupations; Sexual minorities' families.; Sexual minorities.; Sexual orientation.

00:17:48 - Family's perception of his sexuality / Coming out story

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Partial Transcript: Were you always able to, um--I guess, was the rest of your family as welcoming as your grandfather about who you are?

Segment Synopsis: Jara explains that his family was respectful about his privacy, and did not ask him about girlfriends or dating. When Jara met his future husband in Cancun, Jara reported that he thought that his family knew about his homosexuality, but that they never asked. He told his boyfriend that he would tell his family once he knew it was a serious relationship. His boyfriend insisted after a year that he fully come out and introduce him to his family. Jara made plans to visit his family in Mexico City and tell them about his sexuality and his relationship, but logistics made it difficult at first. Towards the end of his visit, Jara finally found the right moment and the courage to tell his sister. She acknowledged that she knew for a long time that he was gay.

Keywords: Acceptance; Boyfriends; Cancun, Mexico; Catholicism; Coming out; Facebook; Homosexuality; Honesty; Marriage; Mexico City; Privacy; Respect; Spa managers; Traditional family

Subjects: Cancun (Mexico); Coming out (Sexual orientation); Families.; Gay men--Family relationships; Gay men.; Homosexuality--Social aspects.; Mexico City (Mexico); Sexual minorities' families.; Sexual minorities.; Sexual orientation.

00:23:55 - Family members' reactions to his coming out

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Partial Transcript: And then I was, uh, leaving the next week, um, Tuesday I guess, and my sister said...

Segment Synopsis: After acknowledging that she knew that Jara was gay, his sister explained that she is very surprised at the news of him moving to the United States. She was very thankful that Jara trusted her and told her about his sexuality. Jara then asked his sister for advice on how to tell the rest of this family. Later on that night, Jara came out to the rest of his family. Jara explains that his older brother had some trouble understanding it at first, so stood up and left the room. However, his younger brother, mom and grandmother were fine with the news. Jara's mother expressed that no matter what she will always love him because he is her son. She does not care if he is gay or not, her love for him will never change. At the end of the conversation, Jara told his family that he will introduce his boyfriend the year after.

Keywords: Family; Reactions; Unconditional love

Subjects: Coming out (Sexual orientation); Families.; Gay men--Family relationships; Gay men.; Homosexuality--Social aspects.; Sexual minorities' families.; Sexual minorities.; Sexual orientation.

00:33:42 - Meeting his future husband

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Partial Transcript: How did you meet him?

Segment Synopsis: Jara explains that he met his husband through a gay meeting app while he was working as a manager of a hotel spa in Cancun. His future husband worked as a flight attendant for American Airlines and regularly flew in to Cancun. He also explains that at the time he did not give his husband too much interest, but later on, he fell in love.

Keywords: American Airlines; Cancun, Mexico; Dating apps; Flight attendants; Florida; Hotel spas; Playa del Carmen (Mexico); Playa del Carmen, Mexico; Puerto Vallarta (Mexico); Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; Tulum (Mexico); Tulum, Mexico

Subjects: Cancun (Mexico); Gay couples.; Gay men.; Homosexuality--Social aspects.; Sexual minorities.; Sexual orientation.

00:37:07 - Experiences as a gay child

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Partial Transcript: Was growing up gay, um, difficult, like, um, I guess socially or at school?

Segment Synopsis: Due to his sexuality, Jara had to deal with bullying in school when he was young. He explains that it was hard to deal with, but later on in life he started to feel comfortable with who he was so he stopped caring about people's comments. He remembers middle school as the most challenging time period.

Keywords: Bullying; Character; Closeted; Harassment; Homosexuality; Hurtful comments; Middle schools

Subjects: Closeted gays.; Gay men.; Gay youth; Homosexuality--Social aspects.; Sexual minorities.; Sexual minority students.; Sexual minority youth; Sexual orientation.

00:39:08 - Comparing reactions about sexuality in Mexico vs USA

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Partial Transcript: Do you think you would have gotten a different reaction, um, here in the States than in Mexico?

Segment Synopsis: Jara explains that in Latin America, they think that the United States is more open minded. However, he explains that that is not the case. America was not as open minded as he thought it would be. Everyone in Latin America associates the "American Dream" with perfection.

Keywords: "American Dream"; Civil rights; Entertainment influence; Gay rights; Latin American perception; Open-minded

Subjects: Coming out (Sexual orientation); Gay men.; Homosexuality--Social aspects.; Sexual minorities.; Sexual orientation.

00:45:51 - Decision to live in the United States

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Partial Transcript: How did you and your husband decided to live here instead of Mexico?

Segment Synopsis: Jara explains how he and his husband evaluated Jara's chances of getting hired for a job in the United States, compared to his husband getting a job in Cancun. Each of them had a house to pay for in their respective countries. They decided it would be harder for his husband, an English speaker, to find a good job in Cancun. Reflecting back, Jara is glad they made that decision because of the political changes in Mexico.

Keywords: Bilingual; Employment; Job searching

Subjects: Cancun (Mexico); Emigration and immigration.; Employment; Gay couples.; Gay men.; Immigrants; Occupations

00:48:37 - Expectations of and reactions to Philadelphia

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Partial Transcript: Can you tell me what it was like to come here for the first time?

Segment Synopsis: Jara says that he did not have any expectations before arriving to the United States. Then he explained that he got lost the first time he walked around Philadelphia. Jara communicated with other people to be able to get around Philadelphia. He loved the city's diversity, including hearing Spanish spoken on the street. He also likes that he can walk or bike everywhere. Jara says that he has not had any bad experiences in Philadelphia, so there is not a thing that he does not like.

Keywords: 16th and Bainbridge St. (Philadelphia, Pa); Dallas (Tex.); Dallas, Texas; Diversity; First days in America; Lost; Retirement centers; Senior citizens

Subjects: Emigration and immigration.; Immigrants; Philadelphia (Pa.)

00:54:18 - Searching for work in Philadelphia / Volunteering

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Partial Transcript: Can you tell me about like what you do here now?

Segment Synopsis: Jara speaks about the difficulty of finding a job in Philadelphia and stresses the need to be patient. He says that the process of finding a job in Mexico is faster. Right now he is unemployed, and volunteering at different organizations including the William Way Center. He met some new friends through a Spanish meet-up app, and he received advice about looking for jobs online. Jara also applied to be a flight attendant at United Airlines, Delta Airlines, and American Airlines.

Keywords: American Airlines; Broad Street Ministry; Flight attendants; Job searching; Service industry; Spanish meet up apps; Unemployed; United Airlines; Volunteerism; William Way Center

Subjects: Emigration and immigration.; Employment; Immigrants; Occupations; Philadelphia (Pa.); Volunteers

01:06:54 - How Philadelphia makes him feel

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Partial Transcript: Why do you say that Philadelphia really opened it's arms to you?

Segment Synopsis: Jara ends his interview by sharing how much he likes Philadelphia. He says that he feels like he receives love everywhere he goes. He has not had a bad experience, and everyone has been very welcoming and respectful with him.

Keywords: City of Brotherly Love; Friendly; Love; Welcoming

Subjects: Emigration and immigration.; Immigrants; Philadelphia (Pa.)