Sincerely: anonymous | Translation
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Translated by MC Editorial
[El hilo Pre-Roll]
[Daniel Alarcón]: This is Radio Ambulante, from NPR. I’m Daniel Alarcón.
Today’s story begins in 2007 at a high school in Ciudad Juárez, northern Mexico. It’s a public school like any other, a building with a central courtyard, green and beige hallways and students in uniforms—gray pants and white polo shirts for boys, and gray skirts with green stripes for girls.
There was a teenager there, Sergio Montes. He was 15 years old. He was a shy boy and, like many others, full of insecurities. A hermit, he says. Always with his guard up, as if he had to protect himself from others. He found it difficult to relate to his classmates. The only safe place for him was a group of friends, especially his girlfriends.
[Sergio Montes]: Well, they were the alternative girls who liked rock. And well, they had ideas that were more liberal, at that time.
[Daniel]: Sergio spent his free time after school talking with them. One day at home after class, he opened his backpack to take out his notebook and inside he found a sheet of paper . . . It was a handwritten letter.
[Sergio]: With pretty handwriting and decorated with drawings . . .
[Daniel]: Curious about it, he began to read.
[Sergio]: “I think you’re very cute, I’m afraid to talk to you, but you’re very special.”
[Daniel]: It was a love confession. Sergio reached the end, hoping to find a sender, but it came without a signature. Rather than thrilled or flattered, he felt uncomfortable.
[Sergio]: It was strange. I perceived myself as someone incapable of being liked by someone else. My insecurity was so great, my self-esteem was so low, that for me . . . instead of thinking, “Does a girl like me?” It was easier to think, “Someone is making fun of me.”
[Daniel]: When you expect the worst, it’s hard to be disappointed. He thought that most likely someone was trying to play a trick on him. A very heavy and cruel trick. And that’s where the paranoia begins: maybe someone was hiding, looking at him, laughing at him behind his back.
Sergio decided not to tell anyone. Not his family, not his friends. But he couldn’t stop thinking about it. Having received that letter is still important to this day, more than a decade later, because thanks to the letter, everything changed.
We’ll be back after a short break.
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[Daniel]: We’re back with Radio Ambulante. Our production assistant, Fernanda Guzmán, picks up the story.
This is Fernanda.
[Fernanda Guzmán]: As the days went by, Sergio’s paranoia began to change . . .
[Sergio]: Maybe there’s a chance this isn’t hostile.
[Fernanda]: Now with a more positive mindset, he wanted to share what was happening with someone. So he decided to tell his girlfriends.
[Sergio]: And they were very excited, right? Because . . . well, at that time I don’t know why, but letters, you know? Sending letters was like, “Wow.”
[Fernanda]: A super-romantic thing. And well, in your teenage years, loving gestures, even insignificant ones, feel monumental.
A week after the first letter arrived, another one showed up. And then another. Sergio got used to receiving several letters throughout the month. Each one described in a little more detail what the anonymous admirer liked about him—his eyes, his appearance, the way he walked . . .
[Sergio]: There came a time when I would go out . . . I would go out for a chat, for a walk with my friends, but kind of watching the room, right? Who goes in, who goes out.
[Fernanda]: Trying to find out who his secret admirer was. But Sergio was not a very good spy, or else the other person was too fast, because he never detected anyone suspicious messing with his stuff.
[Sergio]: So my mind was trying to figure out who it could be, but at the same time I was hoping that it would be someone in particular.
[Fernanda]: He is talking about a girl he liked back then. Finding out that she was behind all of this would have been the perfect ending.
But no matter who was writing the letters, Sergio began to grow fond of that person. She still didn’t have a face, but the vulnerability of what she wrote made Sergio feel that he could relate. It was like looking in a mirror.
[Sergio]: She did express that fear as, “Oh, it’s just that if you meet me, you’re probably going to be disappointed.” Since I had all these problems with my body, I thought . . . “I’m not alone, right? I mean, there is someone who is experiencing the . . . the same things I am.”
[Fernanda]: That insecurity of not feeling adequate, of not fitting in, of not being attractive to others. And connecting in that way with someone made that person even more important in his daily life.
[Sergio]: Maybe even if nothing romantic happened, I knew I could make a friend. I assumed she was someone I could feel at ease with, and at peace, because she could understand that I am going through those same kinds of emotions that she was going through.
[Fernanda]: After a month of receiving letters, Sergio decided it was time to give an answer to those declarations of love. He wanted to meet her. But before initiating a plan of action, he needed reinforcements.
[Sergio]: To be honest, my handwriting is horrible. So two girlfriends were the ones who helped me more than anything.
[Fernanda]: They helped him write it. But he didn’t just need assistance with his handwriting. According to his friends, Sergio’s message was missing a romantic touch. One morning, during a break, they sat down together to write the final answer.
[Sergio]: It was like, “Let’s see, what do you want to tell her? Let’s see, what kind of answer do you want to give her?”, right? And I said, “Well, I want to meet her.” And they would add, I don’t know, something like . . . they would turn it into something really romantic and epic (laughs).
[Fernanda]: Sergio understood the insecurities of the person sending the letters, and he wanted to make sure his message was kind enough so she wouldn’t be afraid to meet face to face. He wanted to build trust. To let her know that no matter who she was, he would not react negatively.
When the letter was ready, it occurred to Sergio that the only way to get it to her was by the same means the sender had used: his backpack. One morning, he waited until his classroom was pretty full of people, so that there would be more of a chance that that person would see him. He grabbed his backpack and stood next to his desk, where he would be as visible as possible.
[Sergio]: I made it look obvious, “I’m putting something here in my backpack.”
[Fernanda]: Exaggerating his movements, as if saying it out loud.
[Sergio]: Like, “Hey, I’m leaving something here. Friend, secret admirer, I want to meet, I know you’re here but you won’t tell me.”
[Fernanda]: Sergio left the room with his friends to give her some time and when he returned, the letter was gone. The message had been sent.
The answer wouldn’t come through his backpack this time. A girl came up to him in the hall with a letter in her hands. “It’s for you,” she said, and she left. It was the first time a real face had appeared.
Sergio opened the letter as he watched the girl walk away. The message set a date: that same day, at recess. And a place: behind the school . . .
[Sergio]: Near the last classrooms . . . there is a hallway that hardly anyone uses.
[Fernanda]: It was an area that was still under construction. The hallway had long been semi-abandoned, with mounds of sand, gravel, rebar and unpainted walls . . .
The few people who visited that place used it to bully others. Or sometimes the students found out there had been an occasional beating there. It was the perfect spot because teachers never walked by.
The reputation of being a place where people were bullied made Sergio very nervous. The first thing he thought was, what if it was a trap? But on the other hand, meeting there guaranteed them a little privacy. It was a risk, and he was willing to take it. He wanted to keep everything to himself, with the fewest people possible involved, so he didn’t tell his girlfriends.
When the bell rang for recess, Sergio headed towards the hallway.
[Sergio]: I was very nervous, I imagined . . . I imagined thousands of scenarios, both good and bad.
[Fernanda]: The good scenario was, of course, to arrive and see that his admirer was waiting for him, whether it was the girl who delivered the letter or another one. He would talk to her about her messages, about themselves, get to know each other better . . . But on the other hand, the worst scenario was clear:
[Sergio]: When I get there, a group of men will be waiting for me and they will beat me, they will insult me. And then they are going to throw me into the rubble.
[Fernanda]: When he got there, he saw a girl, sitting alone, waiting for him. Sergio had never exchanged a word with her, but he knew her.
[Sergio]: She was popular at school, but more so because she used to be targeted a lot. She was often made fun of. So all I knew about her was the teasing that targeted her.
[Fernanda]: And much of the bullying she suffered was because of her sexual orientation. She liked girls.
[Sergio]: All the people who were queer were pretty much singled out by everyone, because it was like, “Oh, look at the gay, the lesbian.” Because it was still a cause for wonder at the time.
[Fernanda]: We’re talking about Mexico, a mostly macho and homophobic country. And even more so in 2007. Both that girl and another member of her small group of friends were known to be, so to speak, different. So, when Sergio saw her, he knew immediately that the letters couldn’t be hers.
[Sergio]: And at that moment I kind of . . . Everything came together. I connected all the dots. The moment I realized it, I had an idea of . . . of exactly who had written those letters. There was no other possibility except that someone in her group was the one who felt those emotions towards me, other than her friend.
[Fernanda]: They had to come from Luis, her best friend. He had never spoken to Luis. They weren’t in the same homeroom or the same class, but Sergio knew him because Luis was someone who used to attract a lot of attention. For example, two years earlier he had been nominated for Spring Queen at school. He had done a couple of concerts, singing and dancing, to get votes and did very well in the contest. He was a straight-A student and the only person in the school who was openly gay.
[Sergio]: So I understood, right? That’s why he was afraid of us meeting, why he felt like he couldn’t tell me. And why all this mystery, right?
[Fernanda]: As soon as he realized who had been writing to him, Sergio froze.
[Sergio]: I felt very strange. I felt very scared. I felt very sad.
[Fernanda]: Sad because he had already imagined this person as an important part of his day-to-day life. He approached the girl, Luis’s friend. She started to speak, but Sergio couldn’t concentrate . . .
[Sergio]: I couldn’t hear what she was saying. I had my own thoughts, and I kept visualizing him.
[Fernanda]: Suddenly, Luis appeared and started walking towards them. When the girl stopped talking, and Sergio realized that it was his turn to say something; he decided to get to the point.
[Sergio]: I just remember I told her to . . . to forgive me. To tell her friend that . . . that, well, thank you, that I . . . that I didn’t . . . Of course, literally, I was saying, “No way . . . I’m not like that.” And . . . and I left.
[Fernanda]: “I’m not like that,” that is to say, I’m not gay.
Sergio left the hallway. He just hoped no one had seen that meeting so they wouldn’t even remotely bring it up. He still didn’t want to see his girlfriends. He used what little recess time he had left to sit and breathe. Later, he came back to the classroom, and although he hadn’t told them anything, it seemed that his girlfriends already knew he had gone to meet the secret person. They began to flood him with questions.
[Sergio]: I have a memory of . . . of . . . of them, all excited, wanting to know what had happened. And I told them no… That simply, well, no . . . no . . . it hadn’t turned out great and that was it.
[Fernanda]: He did not get into details, nor did he tell them at the time who the person behind the letters was. Seeing that he was sad, they didn’t ask any more questions and didn’t talk about it anymore.
Shortly before leaving class, Sergio overheard some of his classmates talking, “Luis is crying in one of the bathrooms. Who knows what’s happened to him.”
Sergio felt sad about the end of all this mystery of the letters, about the disappointment and the way it had ended. But now he was also feeling bad for Luis, knowing that he was hurting him.
When he finally got out of school after what felt like a never-ending day . . .
[Sergio]: I got home, I went up to my room and . . . and I threw myself on the bed and started to cry and cry and cry until . . . I was exhausted from crying.
[Fernanda]: Little by little, he forgot about the incident.
More than 10 years later, however, the letters suddenly returned to Sergio’s life. He was at a girlfriend’s house. They decided to look at the yearbook to refresh their memory. As his friend turned the pages, she asked, “Do you remember when you got those letters?” Sergio answered no, but the subject stayed in his mind the rest of the night and little by little he started remembering.
What Sergio felt was guilt.
[Sergio]: And now, as an adult, well, I wish I had had other tools, right?Tools to see it differently.
[Fernanda]: To understand Luis, empathize with him . . . Give himself the opportunity to make a friend. Remembering this, he felt he needed to get it off his chest.
He went to his Twitter account and used it like so many of us: as a kind of virtual diary or a personal blog. So he decided to take his cell phone and start writing a thread. It starts this way:
[Sergio]: “One day in high school I received a letter, I assumed it was from a girl, she said that she liked me but she was afraid to tell me in person . . .”
[Fernanda]: The thread continues . . .
[Sergio]: “Looking back, I would have liked to be his friend and then tell him a couple of things that I never dared, I voted for you when you ran for Spring Queen . . . “
[Fernanda]: And he closed it with this:
[Sergio]: “And Luis, I kept your letters for a long time; it was mutual, but I wasn’t ready.”
[Daniel]: We’ll be back after a break.
[Radio Ambulante Fest Midroll]
[Daniel]: We’re back with Radio Ambulante. Before the break, we heard how Sergio, a 15-year-old teenager, met his secret admirer in a lonely hallway of his high school, in 2007. The meeting did not go well at all, and, feeling guilty, Sergio decided to forget about it.
More than a decade later, remembering what had happened and trying to get it off his chest, Sergio wrote a Twitter thread about it, with a revelation at the end: he’s gay, too, but wasn’t ready to talk about it back then. The messages were addressed to Luis, but Sergio never expected Luis to read them . . . until the internet got down to business.
Fernanda continues the story.
[Fernanda]: Sergio always felt that something in him did not fit.
[Sergio]: Ever since I was a child, I knew I was different.
[Fernanda]: Everything that surrounded him told him that gay people were…
[Sergio]: Men who were mocked, or stories of men who had ended tragically. And when I realized that I had the characteristics of those people, in a way, well that . . . that generated a kind of . . . fear in me, right? I don’t want to be humiliated, and I don’t want to end up tragically, either.
[Fernanda]: So he learned to hide the way he was, and now he understands that much of his low self-esteem came from that, from feeling that he was despised. Little by little, he began to change his manner of speaking, of moving . . . and soon he began to hate those parts of himself, and he avoided, for example, looking at himself in the mirror. And while no one had ever said, “There’s something wrong with you” directly to him, what he heard around him was powerful enough to change his own perception of himself.
[Sergio]: All those ideas I was told—that everything about me was bad and that I was a terrible being, right? A monster. And there came a time when I believed it. OK, I truly am a monster. And at the same time, I thought, well, I don’t want to be a monster to my friends, I don’t want to be a monster to my family, so I’d rather be away from them than cause them harm, you know?
[Fernanda]: That’s why he built up that hermit personality, which prevented him for a long time from fully enjoying his loved ones. And he deprived himself of moments that could have been enjoyable . . . such as when he received those letters from his secret admirer in high school.
[Sergio]: In other words, instead of thinking the things I thought when I read those letters: how nice. That this person exists. And how cool would it be to talk. And spend some time together. The only thing I thought was, this means that everyone knows. What it means is that . . . Yeah, well, from now on, everything is going to go wrong . . .
[Fernanda]: It wasn’t until the pandemic that Sergio began to question the solitary lifestyle he’d endured for so many years. The quarantine became for him, as for many of us, a time of forced introspection. And that was when Sergio began to rethink the way he related to the world. It was then he decided to see his girlfriend from high school again; he was able to remember the letters and think about what never happened. Perhaps if his response had been different, the rest of his experience at school would have been less lonely, happier. Perhaps Luis would have been his first relationship . . . or a friend that he would still have. Or someone who could have helped him be more honest with others. To love himself. Who knows.
It was this in part that prompted him to take the plunge of writing that Twitter thread. It would be the first time Sergio spoke publicly about his sexuality. He was 29 years old and had never told anyone. It was risky, but at the same time not so much, because his profile name was not his real name. Not many people followed him, and they were all strangers. It felt, somehow, like a safe space to get things off his chest. Writing there was always liberating . . .
But . . . shortly after writing the thread, his cell phone began to vibrate nonstop. He received lots of notifications. His message had gone viral and thousands of unknown people were sharing it, commenting on his story. Sergio got scared.
[Sergio]: I must admit that it was very stressful for me, because I am not a very social person, I don’t know how to feel about getting attention.
[Fernanda]: He felt overwhelmed. So much so, that he didn’t even get to read many of the comments. He even turned off his cell phone and tried to disconnect for a couple of days.
The number of people who were moved by his story took the thread beyond Twitter.
[Tik Tok Girl]: OK, everyone has to watch this for the internet to work its magic.
[Fernanda]: This is the audio of a TikTok video where a girl reads the thread Sergio wrote . . .
[Tik Tok Girl]: It is a Twitter thread and it says the following, “One day in high school, I received a letter. I assumed it was from a girl . . .” [fade out]
[Fernanda]: And the thread ends saying:
[Tik Tok Girl]: “And Luis, I kept your letters for a long time; it was mutual, but I wasn’t ready.” (Gasp). This cannot be the end of this story. Luis, please, where are you?
[Fernanda]: In every corner of the internet where this story went, there were users asking to find Luis:
[User 1]: “Luis, where are you damn it!!!”
[User 2]: Find Luis!
[User 3]: I need Luis to show up so I can get on with my life.
[User 4]: By the power of Twitter, I invoke you, Luis, where are you?
[Fernanda]: And when Sergio logged back in, nervous and scared, he was pleasantly surprised to see the support from so many people.
[Sergio]: And yes, it was such a beautiful experience. It touched me pretty deeply. It was very impactful to see people, even outside of Mexico, who were going through the same thing.
[Fernanda]: Dealing with how difficult it could be to accept yourself and all the things that are lost along the way. Sure, there were some negative, homophobic comments, but they were few. The most important thing for Sergio was that he felt accompanied by others in a way he had never felt before.
[Sergio]: It made me feel, “OK. You’re not alone.”
[Fernanda]: It was a matter of time before Sergio’s tweet reached his acquaintances . . .
[Sergio]: Something that was very powerful for me was the fact that many friends became aware of . . . of . . . of my orientation because they got the thread. And they contacted me and several told me, “Hey, I didn’t know, but if I had known, nothing would have changed.”
[Fernanda]: Sergio genuinely did not expect that response. Everything he had heard during his childhood had convinced him that if his loved ones found out about him, they would reject him. The response from his friends and the hundreds of strangers on Twitter were the push he needed to be able to talk about it with his family for the first time.
He grew up with his parents and an older sister in a somewhat conservative environment. Because of this, and also because of his own insecurities, Sergio distanced himself from them for a long time.
A few days after posting on Twitter, he decided to talk to his family. He went to visit his sister and his mother. His father had passed away in 2009. With his sister, it wasn’t a very ceremonial or elaborate moment, just a simple, honest conversation. He told her, his nieces and a very close cousin that he was gay.
[Sergio]: Everyone’s response was, “I’ve always loved you the way you are. I’m sorry I couldn’t be there. But I want you to know that if I had known, I would have been there. And right now I’m here for you, too.”
[Fernanda]: With his mother it was somewhat different. Because his thread had become so viral, Sergio was afraid that someone might tell his mother as a piece of gossip or as a joke. He didn’t want her to be taken by surprise in that kind of situation; he wanted to be the one to tell her. It was a Monday . . .
[Sergio]: I arrived that day, we greeted each other. She was in the living room watching television. I told her, “We have to talk.” I guess . . . from the way I . . . I don’t know, maybe my face and the way I said it, she thought it was something bad, or rather something serious. She turned off the TV. I didn’t sit down. I started to talk . . .
[Fernanda]: Sergio doesn’t remember the precise words he used . . .
[Sergio]: I only remember that . . . that I made it clear to her that I was gay and I told her about the letters. She told me to sit down. I sat next to her, she took my hand . . . she told me that she didn’t care if I was gay, that she loved me no matter what.
[Concepción]: I don’t know if he thought his mother would reject him. When he had already accepted himself. And I accepted him too, because accepting him as he is, is a sign of love. And, well, I love my son very much.
[Fernanda]: This is Concepción, Sergio’s mother. They both know that for many years, something betweenthem had kept them apart.
[Concepción]: There’s not even that obstacle between us anymore. That’s why the relationship has improved, because the affection, my affection for my son grew by accepting him the way he is.
[Sergio]: I remember that I was very moved. I really wanted to cry. I actually ended up crying. I held her hand tight and she did the same . . .
[Fernanda]: That decision—talking to his mother—would be decisive for their relationship to enter a new stage.
[Concepción]: But he came closer and . . . and the bridges that were broken . . . came together. Right now, I consider it a solid relationship. Because he has to know, otherwise I have to make him understand, that his mother has a very special love for him as a son.
[Fernanda]: Sergio felt that a weight had been lifted off him. For him, that reaction was a tremendous relief. It was a huge step in his life, and he was happy.
[Sergio]: It is just like realizing that the monster you are so afraid of doesn’t exist, or maybe it does exist, but it can’t do anything to you. Yes, there’s a feeling like . . . I don’t know if I should call it power, or rather freedom.
[Fernanda]: Meanwhile, he kept getting messages on Twitter, where other people were telling him about their own coming-out stories. He also found the hashtag #LuisWhereAreYou.
[Sergio]: And it was very strange, because I really didn’t expect that . . . that it would reach so many people. Much less that it would reach him.
[Fernanda]: Because one of those direct messages said:
[Luis]: “Hey, hum . . . I think I’m the one from your story.”
[Fernanda]: This is Luis. The thread got to him thanks to a friend at work. They knew each other because they were also classmates in high school and she remembered the Spring Queen contest that Sergio mentioned in his thread. She only had to connect the dots to realize that it was her friend. She sent him the post.
Of course, Luis remembered that he had run for Spring Queen, and it would be extremely rare for another person with the same name to have also competed. Most likely it was him, but he wasn’t entirely sure; he wanted to check. He went to the photographs on his Twitter.
[Luis]: Until I saw a photo of him, when he was young, when he was a teenager, I said “No shit—I mean, no way, no way, no way,” and then all the memories came back to me again . . . I remembered. And I said yes!”
[Fernanda]: He sent him a direct message on Twitter. Sergio asked him . . .
[Sergio]: Are you so-and-so? And he tells me, “Ha, ha, yes.” And I think. . . I think one of the first things I wanted to check was, “Hey, do you wear glasses? Is that what you look like? Because I don’t remember anymore.” And he laughed and we started talking.
[Fernanda]: Luis also answered the thread, introducing himself to the people who were looking for him. He said that he was the Luis who had sent the letters, although he is now known by his stage name, Ariel. He also said that he has become a cross-dresser and gave other details of his current life . . .
[Luis]: I don’t even know why I gave such a long explanation. Really. It was a three-page explanation, one of those with 150 characters on Twitter.
[Fernanda]: Sergio and Luis started talking by direct messages on Twitter, catching up. Luis could finally tell him his version of the story. From the moment he first laid eyes on him.
[Luis]: It’s kind of like when you see him and boom! Just like, “Oh, wow.” Or you see a person and you feel something strange. And so it happened to me. It was like a crush at first sight, and from that moment on, I had that obsession. He is very handsome. And I didn’t find any faults with him at the time.
[Fernanda]: He shared with his girlfriends that there was a boy he liked, and they advised him on how to tell him.
[Luis]: I’m pretty . . . I’m pretty old-fashioned; I really like romanticism in a relationship.
[Fernanda]: So he decided to do it through letters. Although Luis was romantic and expressive with his feelings, he was also helped by his group of girlfriends when he wrote. The same thing that happened to Sergio.
[Luis]: But of course, the letter never said . . . It didn’t mention “I’m him or I’m her.” I always tried to avoid that kind of . . . of pronouns. So that he would not realize, well, who I was.
[Fernanda]: They repeated the plan with the rest of the letters until the moment came when he finally received that answer from Sergio, and Luis decided to propose a meeting behind the school.
[Luis]: I think the last letter was when I told him that it was time to see each other and that I hoped he would like the surprise. Well, I think it was a big surprise for him.
[Fernanda]: Luis seemed confident that he could get a positive answer. And it caught my attention that he never mentioned doubting Sergio’s sexuality. I asked Luis if he never thought about the possibility of being rejected because Sergio was actually heterosexual.
[Luis]: I thought I was going to get somewhere with him. Because I, as an LGBT person, have a sixth sense and . . . the radar, well, I thought that he was gay. I knew.
[Fernanda]: But the day of the meeting in the hallway between Sergio and Luis’s girlfriend . . .
[Luis]: I remember I hid behind a room where there were several bushes. And my friend was the . . . the one who was talking with him. Then she told me, “Come here.”
[Fernanda]: Luis started to get closer, but at that moment, Sergio told his girlfriend that he was not interested. She tried to signal Luis to go away.
[Luis]: Then my girlfriend said, “No, no, no, no, no.” I mean, from a distance, I still hadn’t even gotten there. “No, no, no, no.” She signaled me, “No, no, no, don’t come.”
[Fernanda]: But when he saw Sergio walking away, he didn’t understand what was happening. The friend told him what Sergio had said, “I’m sorry, but I’m not like that.”
[Luis]: I remember that my eyes filled with tears and I rushed from there to the bathroom to cry, and my friend came after me, “Luis, come on, Luis, come here.” But no, I went straight to the bathroom and started crying in the boys’ bathroom. It was always empty, and there I cried my eyes out.
[Fernanda]: The sadness lasted a long time. But as usually happens, everything is left behind. Both for Luis and Sergio. Without consciously deciding to do so, they ended up suppressing much of their memories of school life.
Now, thanks to the help of the internet, they were finally able to have that conversation that had been pending for 14 years. They still lived in the same city, so they agreed to meet one night after work at a café. Once again, they had a time and a place, but this time Sergio was ready.
[Sergio]: Maybe the conversation didn’t happen back then, but we can have it now that we’re people in a much better place in a way. Knowing that now there are no such limitations to interaction, and especially knowing that there are no longer any of those fears or obstacles.
[Fernanda]: It was a pleasant summer night.
[Luis]: It was very nice because we met in a café. Hm . . . I got there before he did.
[Fernanda]: He chose a seat on the second floor and waited. Sergio came through another door on the first floor. They were both waiting alone for a while. Sergio got a little nervous thinking that Luis wouldn’t show up . . .
[Sergio]: I began to feel afraid, thinking, “He is going to stand me up. He is going to take revenge.”
[Fernanda]: A waitress helped them meet . . . They laughed with her at the situation, and when she left them alone, they greeted each other with a big hug.
[Sergio]: We wanted to laugh and it was really great to see each other. And we hugged.
[Luis]: And when I saw him it was like, “Wow, have we actually seen each other?” And it was a big hug . . . I was very happy to see him and really get to know him again.
[Fernanda]: They talked about high school and the things each one had experienced there. But in fact, they talked more about their present than about their past.
That’s what they both really wanted to know about each other. Sergio opened up to Luis and told him about all the problems he had with himself, his time as a hermit, all the fears he had been carrying, and how he was now in the process of leaving them behind.
[Luis]: And I am glad to see that he is well. I am glad to see him so brave because he is a very brave person who is trying to . . . to go out or to go out into the world . . . To swallow the world.
[Sergio]: It was really a very, very nice experience because it meant connecting for the first time . . . as adults.
[Fernanda]: But one of Sergio’s main goals when he met Luis again was to finally be able to offer him an apology. He still felt very guilty for hurting him back then.
[Sergio]: It was like that need to be at peace with him and also with my past self.
[Luis]: I tell you, it was teenage stuff and that’s all. And I told him he didn’t need to apologize for anything. Because he was not to blame for what happened. Maybe I caused that.
[Fernanda]: It’s just that not everyone has the same journey to self-acceptance. And everyone finds their way, at their own pace.
They spent several hours in that café. The meeting was great for both, despite the very different lives they have led. And to remember the moment, they took a picture. They shared it on Twitter with the hundreds of people who had been waiting for this moment ever since Sergio posted the thread. Next to the photo, Sergio wrote a tweet that said:
[Sergio]: “Last night, Luis and I had the opportunity to meet and talk as two independent and happy adults with their respective lives. Each has had to fight his own battles. I was glad to know that, although we had to grow up in an environment of discrimination, from two very different sides, today we are adults, and the kids we once were would be very proud of us.”
[Fernanda]: I asked him how he feels now, after everything that happened. He told me that his relationship with his family had changed. Now they are much closer. But perhaps more importantly, his relationship with himself has been transformed.
[Sergio]: Now I honestly feel more confident in many ways. Emotionally, intellectually. I even feel like an attractive person so to speak—although I’m not—but I have more self-confidence now.
[Fernanda]: What surprises him the most is the fact that he now feels he deserves affection.
[Daniel]: Sergio and Luis keep in touch, talking often, working on their friendship. Both have received many messages from people who were touched by their story, who ask for advice in their own process . . . People who unburden themselves with the complicated details of their own situation, and others who simply thank them.
This story was produced by Fernanda Guzmán. She lives in Mexico City.
This story was edited by Camila Segura, Luis Fernando Vargas and me. Desirée Yépez did the fact-checking. The sound design is by Andrés Azpiri and Rémy Lozano, with original music by Rémy.
The rest of the Radio Ambulante team includes Paola Alean, Nicolás Alonso, Lisette Arévalo, Aneris Casassus, Emilia Erbetta, Camilo Jiménez Santofimio, Ana Pais, Laura Rojas Aponte, Barbara Sawhill, Elsa Liliana Ulloa, and David Trujillo.
Carolina Guerrero is the CEO.
Radio Ambulante is a podcast by Radio Ambulante Estudios, produced and mixed on the Hindenburg PRO program.
Radio Ambulante tells the stories of Latin America. I’m Daniel Alarcón. Thanks for listening.