Gloria Estefan on why she didn’t want gay daughter Emily to come out to her mother: ‘Life is complicated’

Gloria Estefan with her daughter, musician Emily Estefan. (Photo: Johnny Louis/Getty Images)
Gloria Estefan with her daughter, musician Emily Estefan. (Photo: Johnny Louis/Getty Images)

Gloria Estefan is opening up about why she didn't want her daughter, Emily Estefan, 27, to come out as a lesbian to her mom, Emily’s grandmother Gloria Fajardo, before Fajardo's death in 2017.

"In the Latin community, a lot of these subjects aren't touched, they're taboo," Estefan, 65, said in a sit-down interview with CNN's Chris Wallace. "People see, but they don’t want to talk about it. They don’t want to see it."

"I have all these people that have loved me through the years and supported, and I want them to realize that we’re all just families trying to get through the difficult moments in life," the queen of Latin pop added, before explaining the reasoning for wanting to shield her elderly mother from Emily's sexual identity.

"Emily, I thought, would feel comfortable coming out to me. We’ve been very, very open about the support for the LGBTQ community our entire lives," she said. "At the same time, I had a mother with ulcerative colitis that, even if I brought up a bill or something that was not even important, would get very upset and would get sick," she explained, referring to the “inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes inflammation and ulcers (sores) in your digestive tract,” according to the Mayo Clinic. “So yeah, and life is complicated, life is tough."

The Cuban singer explained that she and Emily wanted to share their story so that people "realize these are conversations we need to have."

Gloria previously spoke about her daughter's coming out journey in an interview with the Sunday Times.

"It was a bit of a surprise to me that she didn’t feel comfortable enough to say from the beginning what she was feeling," Gloria told the outlet earlier this month. "But then she is a private person, like me, so I understood that. She was very anxious."

Adding that she and Emily have attended therapy together, the singer noted, "Sometimes it’s just an objective ear that is not emotionally invested in your pain that is important. For Emily and me it was incredibly useful to have someone there while we were discussing things and pointing things out. It was healing."

The duo previously shared their experience in an Oct. 2020 episode of Red Table Talk, during which they reflected on Emily's initial attempt to tell her parents about her sexuality.

"We were in the car and you, like, leaned over very excitedly and asked your dad and I, ‘Guys, do you think that I might be gay?'" Gloria recalled.

Emily later recalled what her mother said in response: "You said, ‘Only you can know that,’" she said. “But when I asked you that question, it was like testing the waters because I was afraid. I was having conversations in my head trying to figure out ... who am I? What is this? Where do I fit? I was learning that I preferred women."

The young Estefan went on to reveal the struggles she had with her sexuality and admitted that she dated both men and women to figure things out after feeling like “something was wrong with me.”

Gloria then replied, “For any parent, we love unconditionally and what we were trying to do was to protect you, and ended up hurting you, which kills me. And I hate that that happened."

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