CHICA Boss Emily Estefan On Finding Her Voice and Living Her Truth
Cuban American singer Emily Estefan opens up to People CHICA about her coming out story, life with her soulmate, and making music that is true to her heart.
Emily Estefan joins our Chica Boss Pride video series where we profile Latina power players who are at the top of their game and uplifting the community through their efforts. During Pride Month, we're focusing on women who are making an impact on the LGBTQ+ community - whether they are a member of the community themselves or allies who are advocating for it.
Even though she is part of a musical dynasty, as a child Emily Estefan did not think she would follow into her parents' footsteps. "I actually wanted to be a surgeon or a vet at one point," admits the singer, 26. "My first aspiration was to be the first female Benihana chef because it's all dudes up there," jokes the daughter of Gloria and Emilio Estefan. "I think I was afraid of going into the same career as my parents. I wanted my own path."
When she was 18 she found her true passion. "I threw myself into music," recalls the graduate of the prestigious Berklee College of Music, who released her first album Take Whatever You Want in 2017. "I don't know how to describe my music genre. I feel like it is a constant evolution as an artist. As you change, your music changes." The "Ask Me To" singer is excited to perform again after over a year of lockdown due to the pandemic. "To me music is like the breath of humanity," she says. "I play instruments like a palette, like color."
She also found a great platform of expression in the Facebook Watch show Red Table Talk: The Estefans, where she tackles fascinating topics with mom Gloria Estefan and cousin Lili Estefan. In the first season, Emily shared her coming out story. "I was ready to be more authentic in the hopes that somebody will receive that and it will help them on their journey," she says.
Being so transparent wasn't easy. "The Red Table Talk episode about my coming out story was brutal," she admits. "We prepared for it. That was the actual first time that we had that conversation, because we had turmoil and miscommunication. You know family sometimes, we have this closeness and you sacrifice communication to keep the closeness. I think that is an important narrative to change because in that communication is when you can really get closer."
She says no one should feel pressured to "come out" or talk about their sexuality. "This narrative that sometimes comes up like: 'Ugh, come on! When is she gonna come out of the closet already?', I think it is so important to try to build a narrative that if you're exploring and you do not know quite how you fit in, that's ok.'"
For Emily, self-discovery took time. "I have had relationships with men, with women. I am very comfortable saying now that I know that my attraction to women is my preference, a connection with women that so far hasn't been matched with my connections with men. This is me being authentic with you," she says. "But I have enjoyed both experiences and I am open to loving human beings because my true ideal is that you fall in love with the soul."
Emily found true love in Gemeny Hernández. "She has so many incredible qualities. She is so raw. From the moment that we met, our love was so intense," she says about her girlfriend of five years. "We work on keeping ourselves in this love, in this energy. Love takes work and you go through so many obstacles, and I feel that kids our age are like: 'There are so many fish in the sea'. We all have faults and so many things. When you learn to integrate your lives together that is when you have true love. She has shown to me what unconditional love is. On my darkest day she will pick me up off the floor. And we work together too. We make a balling team." They live together in Miami with their dogs. "We have three babies, that have four legs each. Very hairy," Emily jokes.
Being an advocate for the LGBTQ community comes naturally. "I think that the LGBTQ community and the Latin community have a lot in common. It's funny because over time in history they have butted heads," she reflects. "There are a lot of stigmas about being gay in the Latin culture, but it's about pride, it's about loving who you are, not being ashamed to be yourself."
She hopes the current pandemic brings lessons of kindness and acceptance. "We all need to realize we need to lift each other up and enjoy our time on this planet," she says. Her role models are diverse. She found inspiration in her late grandmother Gloria Fajardo and looks up to Rosie O'Donnell and RuPaul. What does being a "CHICA Boss" mean to her? "You don't give up," Emily says with a laugh. "Whatever obstacle is in front of you, smash it with a hammer and go!"