In WJCT’s StoryCorps OutLoud series, we’ll hear from Jacksonville residents who are part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. Each week, WJCT’s Lindsey Kilbride will share a conversation recorded by the StoryCorps oral history project. All the participants are linked by the local LGBTQ youth support group, JASMYN. The organization recently celebrated its 20th anniversary.
Ernie Selorio Jr. was a gay teenager in the early 90s. It was then that he and his family moved from Washington DC to Jacksonville.
At age 19, he began JASMYN, the Jacksonville Area Sexual Minority Youth Network, a support group for teens like him.
Selorio is now 41. He and his younger sister Cleoffe Smith recall the day he was outed as gay by his own journal.
Ernie: I was going to tell them
E: But then mom, being as nosey as she was.
E: A typical nosey, Filipino mom, went into my room and found my journal. You know, because I had a hard time outreaching to the community and I would write things down and I, I, so I wrote this statement you know just to help me—
E: Reach out to people, I said ‘Hi my name is Ernie Solorio Jr. I’m gay and I am interested in starting a gay youth support group here in Jacksonville, would you be willing to help me’ is what I wrote down, and I wrote that in my journal
C: uh huh
E: and of course the plan was to come out to mom and dad eventually,
E: but then little did I know that mom found the journal
C: of course
E: and then we were at the dinner table and then she was praying for some odd reason very hard. Not the usual kind of praying that we usually go through before we have dinner, and so I was getting kind of nervous and I was looking at you and then I think, we felt something was going to happen .. I, I, I don’t know I
C: I think I remember she was acting strange that evening, yeah
E: yeah, and then .. so, uhm, before we were getting ready to eat she kind of threw down the journal.
C: I remember that, yeah
E: And I freaked out, I was like ‘oh my God, there’s my journal’
C: And she said, what’s this? What’s this?
E: And she wanted me to read so I think was kind of freaking out because I thought at that moment I was going to get kicked out after this
C: I was scared for you...
C: Because I didn’t know what was going to happen to you.
E: So then I read the statement I said ‘hi my name is Ernie Solorio, I’m gay .. and then I remember you were looking at me and I was looking at you...
C: And I was looking at mom and dad, like ‘what are they going to do?!’
E: And then I was, and then you started to cry.
C: Yeah I do remember that.
E: And you kept on saying that uhm he’s your son, please ..
C: Yeah I remember that.
E: Please, please love him and accept him and then uhm, mom kept on saying you know ‘what does this, what does this mean? Why are, why are you doing this? Why are you saying this? And then, um, dad couldn’t even look at me.
C: Yeah dad, was very quiet.
E: He didn’t look at me, he just..
C: I think he was taking it all in.
E: He was just looking at the food and then uhm that’s when dad just got up and went to the living room and turned on the TV. And then mom was just crying, and then I said I think we are just going to need to go.
C: Yeah we left
E: And then we just left
Next week, we continue the StoryCorp OutLoud series with a conversation about pushback JASMYN faced in its early days.