Rose is a Latinx, bisexual, non-binary, transgender woman who uses she/her or they/them pronouns. The middle of 5 kids - Rachael, Natalie, Rose, Joshua, and Emily, Rose grew up in a tight knit family that everyone said was perfect. Her dad is still a worship pastor, and her mom is an American Sign Language interpreter and started a non-profit missionary organization to benefit the Deaf community in multiple countries.
But for Rose it didn’t feel perfect for a while. She and her little brother Joshua loved playing dress up, playing with dolls, and embracing femininity in a way that made her parents uncomfortable and in a way that she and Joshua internalized when they were young. It didn’t feel ok to be who they wanted to be, and it took a few more years to be able to talk about it.
It was the adoption of their sister Emily that brought the Montoyas even closer together. Emily was almost four years old when the Montoyas adopted her, and she is Deaf. Because of their mom’s work in the Deaf community, the Montoyas all knew American Sign Language but hadn’t used it seriously until Emily entered their family. Leaning into ASL as a primary form of communication taught them something surprising - intuitive empathy.
“ASL isn’t gendered” Rose explains, “it’s fluid, and relies on reading body language and paying attention to who you’re talking with. It’s conceptual, and it’s how language should be - adaptable and malleable.”
When Rose came out the first time as gay her family struggled to accept it. After her little brother Joshua came out during his junior year, it was a simpler conversation. Rose jokes, “I had to come out four times, and I feel like it got easier each time for them.”
As Rose came into her own with her gender and sexuality, and Joshua came out, the Montoyas mirrored what they had learned by opening up their family - the idea that to love someone wholly is to evolve with them.
Rose’s mom later realized that she is an atheist, and it started many conversations in the family that brought everyone closer together. Rose’s grandmother, a former nun and devout Catholic, was one of her biggest allies as she came home to herself. Rose also grew up close to her non-binary cousin who has also come out multiple times and has always been very supportive. As everyone in the Montoyas changed, their love became stronger.
“I love my family because we love each other as we are, as we are finding out who we are.”
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