Humans of Venice: Absent Father and Dealing With Recovery

Telling our stories one student at a time

Carmen Perez, Julia Escobar, and Naim Gordon

Oarsman staff Julia Escobar, Carmen Perez, and Naim Gordian went around the school campus asking random students if they would mind being interviewed regarding their personal stories. Founded by Alicia Valenciana and Julissa Ventureno, Humans of Venice High is a series of photographs and personal histories revealing the hidden emotions of their subjects.


Jesse Fabian (11th grade)

Carmen perez
Jesse Fabian

How has your perspective about yourself changed?

“Growing up without a dad, it’s been hard because you’re so used to so many people saying “What does your dad do or what does your mom do?” Well, sorry to break it to you, but I don’t have a dad. He walked out when I was two months old, it was always something I was used to. My mom is my dad. My mom is my mom. My mom is the person that is always going to be there for me.

“When I was really young, I always blamed everything on my dad. ‘Oh I’m like this because of my dad’ or ‘I can’t do this because my dad isn’t around to teach me how to do this.’ You can’t depend on anybody except yourself, you can’t be put under a label just because he doesn’t have a dad or she doesn’t have a mom. You’re going to learn regardless and that is how I’ve changed a little bit.

“I’m taking on that grudge of ‘my dad left me.’ It’s just letting go. The man didn’t have a choice. He left because he wasn’t ready. I can’t blame him for that. For a while I used to blame him. Is this why I’m bisexual? or Is this why I was questioning my sexuality for a while? because dad wasn’t around or because I didn’t have a man to show me what a man had to do. Is it wrong for me to be gay? Then I realized no, I am a human being and being gay doesn’t mean that you have a limitation to how much you love people. It just saying your heart is big enough to love more.”

What advice would you give to anyone going through what you’re going through?

“If you still haven’t come out yet, what I have learned best, just recently having come out to my mom and my sister, is to take your time. It’s no rush. That is something you do when your ready to do, no matter if people notice it. No matter if people don’t notice it. It’s what you do when you want to do it and you come out when you want to come out because that’s what defines you.

“Just taking your time to really come out with it and say it in the right way (is important) because people will take it so many different wrong ways. When you do finally come out, you will realize that so many people aren’t what you think they are. That they are actually loving and accepting and they will cherish you and take you under their wing. When I came out, I thought my mom was going to hate me, disown me, she’s not going to want me to be her son anymore. I told her, ‘Mom you have to realize that regardless what I say right now I am going to be your son and you told me you’re going to love me no matter what and I just want you to know that I’m gay,’ and she said, ‘It’s okay, there’s nothing wrong with that.’”

“There’re so many people that live with being unaccepted, but when you are accepted, regardless if it’s your family or friends, you’re accepted in some sort of community. You should not be afraid to be who you are.”

Anonymous (11th grade)

What are your goals in life?

“I want to be successful, for my family and for my mom especially. I want to be an engineer in nanotechnology. That’s the future and I want to be involved. I want to create ideas and products that would help the world like to minimize food waste, take care of the environment and stuff like that. I really feel responsibility to help and do something about it.

“Those are my life goals, but right now I have different goals. I want to graduate, get the best of high school, start a club, I want to be interactive with my teachers, get good grades and be involved as much as possible.”

What has been the happiest moment of your life?

“I think the happiest moments in my life have been the simplest moments. Like going out with my mom to eat. Even though we don’t do anything, I think the time spend with her, it is really precious to me because I can forget about other problems or school.”

What are you afraid of?

“Knowing that I can’t achieve something because of financial issues, thinking that I’m going to be below somebody and that there’s always going to be someone on top of me doing better.”

“I am scared of failing. I feel I have too much pressure from my family, being the first generation. I know I have to do better than the last generations. Sometimes from all the pressure, I just question myself: what am I going to do now and how? Putting my head down and having conflicts with myself about financial, friends or family issues. I feel that is a lot to take sometimes, but I know I can’t stop, I mean I’m already here, I have to keep going.”

Gabriella Frangiyyeh (10th grade)

Julia Escobar
Gabriella Frangiyyeh

What is your greatest struggle in life right now?

“Getting through recovery and wanting to recover. On this day [Oct. 18], two years ago I was in the hospital because I was really suicidal for a long time. What I went through was childhood trauma. It just felt unfair that I kind of had my life taken away from me. I always used to wish that I could have a normal life as a kid. It was pretty rough.”

What are you afraid people see when they look at you?

“I’m afraid that people will see somebody that’s bad. I just don’t want to be seen as a bad person at all. Social anxiety doesn’t get to me as it used to. I kind of realized that there’s going to be people who don’t like me, no matter how good of a person I am. There’s always gonna be people who don’t like me whether they are jealous of me or if they genuinely don’t like me.

“That’s just not my problem and I can’t do anything about that. This wasn’t really a part of my childhood trauma, but it led to me to be more socially anxious. There was one time when I couldn’t leave my house for a whole week, no third grader deserves to feel that way.”

Are you satisfied with who you are right now?

“I’m pretty satisfied with who I am right now because I’ve done a lot to get to this point, and to be the person I am, and I’ve definitely made a lot of sacrifices. But sometimes I’m too nice to the point where it’s unhealthy for me. I am working on that.”