Emily Estefan Shares Her Coming-Out Story in New Episode of 'Red Table Talk: The Estefans'
The singer talked about what it was like to come out to her mother, Gloria Estefan, in a new episode of their Facebook Watch show Red Table Talk: The Estefans.
Emily Estefan opened her heart in the latest episode of the new Facebook Watch show Red Table Talk: The Estefans. The Cuban American singer, 25, shared her coming-out story and talked about how her mom, Gloria Estefan, reacted. "I was afraid. I was having conversations in my head trying to figure out, Who am I?" Emily recalled. "I was learning that I preferred women. I had my first sexual experience with a woman and then two weeks later with a man. I thought, 'Maybe something's wrong with me.'"
Emily kept her love life private and didn't want to introduce any romantic partners to the family until she met Gemeny Hernandez, her girlfriend of over four years. Emily says when she told her mom she was in love with a woman, the former star of the Miami Sound Machine replied, "If you tell your grandma and she dies, her blood is on your hands," referring to her late mother, Gloria Fajardo. "I just wasn't ready for that," Emily said, tearing up. "That's where my hurt started. I'm never going to forget that."
Gloria Estefan, who is beloved by the LGBTQ community, replied to her daughter, "You are remembering things in a different way." She then admitted that her mother was conservative and they weren't always on good terms. "My mother and I had a complicated relationship. She was controlling and set in her ways. At one point we were even estranged for two years," she recalled. "I was trying to protect both my ailing mother from any shock that could affect her health, and Emily from anything that could harm their relationship."
Gloria said Emily was "the apple" of her grandmother's eyes and she didn't want her daughter's sexual orientation to change that, so she advised Emily to introduce her girlfriend to her grandma first as a friend. Lili Estefan added that the family always saw Emily as very confident and strong, and didn't think she was suffering. "I was falling apart," said Emily, who felt she couldn't hold her girlfriend's hand or be affectionate with her in public for fear of being judged or photographed by paparazzi. "I'm a celebrity's kid."
Gloria also said that Emily was making her singing debut and releasing her first album in 2017, "a moment of pride for the family," and she didn't want her coming-out story to get all the headlines. "I feared a controversy about Emily's sexuality would overshadow her hard work and her music," she said. "You're talking about my career? I was suicidal!" Emily burst out. "The things that I was facing in the moment were so crippling that I couldn't see anything but the hurt." Gloria then replied, "I hate to know that I was a part of that hurt."
Gloria and Emily both admit this made them grow apart. "We couldn't even talk because we were both hurt," Emily said. What was Emilio Estefan's reaction? "He was trying to make sure that his women were both OK," Emily explained about her dad.
Comedian, actress, and TV personality Rosie O'Donnell, a longtime friend of the Estefans, also joined the conversation. "This is a really hard thing for many families," Rosie, an LGBTQ icon, explained. "One thing that is paramount is forgiveness." Both Gloria and her daughter said they have forgiven one another after going to therapy to heal.
Actress Michelle Rodriguez also joined via a video call and discussed her own sexual orientation. "I like boys, I like girls, I like both," she said. Rodriguez added that her family members are Jehovah's Witnesses, which made her journey even harder. "I grew up knowing that you're in this alone," the Fast & Furious star said. Gloria wrapped the conversation by saying she hopes that one day someone's sexual orientation won't be an issue, and love and acceptance will reign.