Gloria Estefan wasn't surprised when her daughter Emily told her she was gay. However, she was quite shocked to discover that Emily felt uncomfortable telling her the news.
The singer and star of Father of the Bride, 65, spoke in a new interview with the Sunday Times about her 27-year-old daughter's hesitation to open up to her five years ago when she first came out.
"It was a bit of a surprise to me that she didn’t feel comfortable enough to say from the beginning what she was feeling," Gloria said of her daughter, who is also a musician. "But then she is a private person, like me, so I understood that. She was very anxious."
Gloria shared that she and Emily have attended therapy together in order to work on their connection.
"Sometimes it’s just an objective ear that is not emotionally invested in your pain that is important," she explained. "For Emily and me it was incredibly useful to have someone there while we were discussing things and pointing things out. It was healing."
But it proved to be a bit more difficult to share the news with Emily's grandmother, who was ailing at the time. While Gloria wanted Emily to introduce her partner, Gemeny Hernandez, to her grandmother before she passed away, Emily interpreted that as a move to discourage her from sharing her sexuality at all.
“I told her, ‘Do it slowly so you don’t shock her, as the last thing I would want is for something to happen to her — because it is going to happen anyway — and you feel forever her blood is on your hands," Gloria said. But Emily saw this as a rejection and was hurt by her mother's statement.
“Em remembers in a completely different way and I can understand why, because to her she was so raw at that time,” Gloria shared.
Later, the mother and daughter took their experience to a public forum, sharing their journey in a podcast episode. Of course, getting to that point didn't prove to be easy. Back in 2020 during an appearance on an episode of Red Table Talk: The Estefans, both women reflected on Emily's initial attempt to tell her parents about her sexuality.
"We were in the car and you like leaned over very excitedly and asked your dad and I, ‘Guys, do you think that I might be gay?'" Gloria recalled.
Emily recalled what her mother said in response.
"You said, ‘Only you can know that,’" Emily said. “But when I asked you that question, it was like testing the waters because I was afraid. I was having conversations in my head trying to figure out ... who am I? What is this? Where do I fit? I was learning that I preferred women."
Feeling like "something was wrong" with her, Emily said she dealt with suicidal thoughts due to her strained relationship with Gloria. "The things I was facing in the moment were so crippling that I couldn’t see anything but the hurt," she explained.
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