In honor of Pride Month, we want to highlight and share the story of Becca, our Sous Chef at Bricoleur Vineyards. Becca prefers to use they/them pronouns. They hope by sharing their story, they inspire others, “I want to share that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.” This last year Becca reached a point where they felt the most authentic version of themselves. Growing up in a small conservative town with religious, traditional Latino parents, it was not easy to get where they are now. “I fought for who I am, who I love, and I wouldn’t take back a single day. It was worth it to get to where I am now”.
Becca was forced out of the closet a Saturday afternoon in their junior high school after their parents inadvertently invaded their privacy. By the next day, their parents had them go to church Sunday morning and, in a sense, ‘pray the gay away.’ Their whole life completely changed, and they were never allowed to come out on their terms. At the time, Becca had a girlfriend with whom they ultimately had to cut all contact and was no longer allowed to have female friends in general. Finally, they were forced back into the closet. Their parents would push heteronormative rhetoric on them for the rest of high school. They had a boyfriend in their senior year of high school to please their family but were not pleased with themselves. They describe this time in their life as ‘feeling ugly inside,’ wearing a dress to prom but feeling so uncomfortable, wanting nothing more than to wear a suit.
College was Becca’s chance to distance themselves from their hometown and to start discovering who they are—deciding to ditch ‘Becky’ (their hometown nickname) and become Becca. They wanted to be different than ‘Becky.’’ Becca would not hide who they were. They started Sonoma State in 2013 and met their roommate Carleigh. Becca and Carleigh clicked right away, and there was an obvious connection. One night Becca and Carleigh kissed, and there were fireworks. At this time, Becca was still struggling with coming to terms with their sexuality and tried to fight the connection with flirting and kissing boys. They did not come to Sonoma State to be in the closet again. They decided to be who they were and make things official with Carleigh. Becca and Carleigh have been together for ten years and are happily married! Things did not ease up at the time on Becca because they had a girlfriend.
Although they were far from home, they felt tension, anger, and disappointment in their dorm. Their family asked them to come home, saying they were ‘going down the wrong path‘ and needed to attend church. Becca stood their ground and fought for themselves and their relationship, “from 2013 to 2015, every day was a battle”. Being from a Latino background, family is essential in their culture. They couldn’t help but feel depressed, constantly struggling with their parents. Carleigh’s family was much more accepting of the relationship, and Becca’s parents did not want to accept the relationship at all, causing Carleigh to feel unwanted by Becca’s family. While still in school, one Christmas break Becca decided they wanted to spend it at their girlfriend’s home rather than alone. That devastated their parents, urging them to come home immediately. They told their parents, “I’m not coming back home if you’re not going to accept me.” This broke their mom’s heart, but they told Becca to enjoy Christmas. Their relationship with their mom was a bit rocky after that, but now Becca says they are way better and accept their relationship.
In 2019 Becca and Carleigh got engaged! Becca’s partner thought the relationship with Becca’s parents would be more straightforward now that they were legally married. But Becca’s father still struggled to accept Becca’s relationship. He did not attend the wedding in 2020, and Becca’s brother walked them down the aisle. Becca’s dad said this went against his church and could not participate. Becca entered the conversation calmly, clearly stating that this would be their only wedding and their relationship with their father would be altered. Becca was happy her brother, mother, and aunts could attend. Their mother did share a concern on how life will treat Becca as a queer person, Becca’s mom saying, “I love you no matter what. I’m scared of how cruel the world is.” Becca assured their mom, “I feel beautiful, I love a beautiful person, I’m not afraid.”
Becca began their career in the kitchen, which is typically male-dominated. At the time, Becca exhibited more feminine traits and felt harassed by some of their colleagues. They recount male coworkers making inappropriate comments and gestures, ultimately not creating a comfortable space for Becca. Coworkers even denied the legitimacy of Becca’s marriage.
They were in a toxic work environment for two years. Thankfully, they could exit that environment and begin at Bricoleur Vineyards in 2020. Their time at Bricoleur Vineyards was a completely different experience. Becca shares, “The family (The Hanson Family) helped me realize I can be a strong individual.” Changing their pronouns and presenting in a way that is comfortable for them. They felt as if gender did not limit them and described themselves as a person with a big heart, a giver trying their best to get through the world like everyone else. They feel fortunate to work where they feel comfortable expressing themselves. They never received pushback once they started; they have always been included in this company. They are happy to be ending their 20s feeling truly themselves.
Becca hopes that by sharing their story it will help educate people that the queer community deserves the right to be themselves just like anyone else. They want everyone to be happy in their own skin, no one deserves to wake up and feel ashamed.
At Bricoleur Vineyards, Becca is a loved and respected chef. Many of their dishes are guest’s favorites and their pasta brings joy to all who try it. We feel lucky to have them.