Both Sides Now – Dulce + Gerry

Dulce Carolina Muñoz Garcia, 39, is a feminist and National Convener of Mums4refugees. 
Gerardo Navarrete Avalos, 40, is a 4WD buff and marketing executive for an insurance company. 
Dulce and Gerry both grew up in Mexico and came together to Australia in 2008.

DULCE

Gerry and I have been together for 20 years, married for 13. We have a child (Victoria) together and a dog, cat and fishes and we live 14,000 km away from family and friends. We met at the opening of a nightclub. I was 18, he was 19. I remember him being very kind to his drunken friends.

I was raised by a mother who always said that the most attractive thing was kindness in a man because a man can be rude and unkind and ungrateful, and they have the privilege to not be kind and women always have to be to survive.

When I met Gerry, he told me “oh, well, my family has a little bit Jewish” and I was like “well, my family too; they are really uncomfortable about it”. And then it was a bond between us. It was like, I see you, there are things in the family that I see in you, probably trauma and stress, that we connect over. You know when you connect to the dark part and the light part of a person at the same time that you understand them.

And then we realised that we cooked things at the same time, recipes were almost the same, and traditions were very similar, how serious we take death, for example, and how we allow ourselves to have this grief process, things that are out of the ordinary in Mexican tradition and it’s because of Judaism.

I think my family history is a story of migration and guilt and love. A lot of my Jewish history was lost. My maternal grandfather was a womaniser who had lots of families. It’s been a slow reconnection with that part of the family.

It’s a common story in Mexico. We say we have an abundance of mother and a lack of father. So it’s a very macho state as a response to dads not being responsible so there’s a lot of second families, first families. My grandmother was raised in a very light, almost secular family and we always knew there was a Jewish side of ours but never fully either taking over or being especially honoured or proud about it because of what happened.

The feeling I have when I think of being Jewish is the same when I feel that I’m an indigenous Mexican: it is that I wish I knew more. I wish I could talk to whatever god allowed me to be standing here and it’s also like having this whispering secret in your head going all the time in you. I treasure it, I understand it.

A lot of what I do in my life is because I know very well that I’m indigenous and Jewish and I’m French and I’m a Spaniard and I’m the product of kindness and compassion because someone showed kindness and compassion to my family, someone stepped in.

I feel compelled to talk about struggle in an active manner and struggle as part of who I am and what I represent, and I do feel a lot of spiritual connection with the struggle of people. I find beauty in conflict. I find beauty in difficult personalities and difficult stories.

I also understand that Judaism is a tiny little insignificant part of who I am in perspective of my general genetic history but at the same time I believe that that struggle makes me a lot of who I am. I see that in Gerry also.

Gerry is an easy person to talk with. He is honest and kind and he would never judge someone. He always looks for an explanation, not a justification. He’s more interested in understanding why someone behaves that way and not how. And he makes me laugh.

I think the fact that we met so young meant that we kind of raised each other. I sometimes look at him and say ‘I can’t believe that you are not my blood family’. He is my home in very strange ways.Dulce, Gerry and their daughter, Victoria

GERRY

On our first date I took Dulce to this little place in downtown Puebla (south of Mexico City) that’s like this communist bohemian café/bar library which was a bit of a punt but it straight away let us both know that we were quite good for each other. We were talking about socialism, as you do in your twenties, and we still are.

I was reading the Dead Sea Scrolls at the time and she had just read it so our Judaism came out straight away. I think she really liked that about me, that we have lot of things that are akin. We click really well together.

I was born and raised in Mexico from a very mixed background but we’ve been in Mexico for a long time. My family arrived centuries ago. My Jewish story is definitely not mainstream in the way people think of Judaism but it’s also a very huge part of Latin America and Spain’s story as well.

I was raised Catholic but I’ve always known that we had Jewish heritage. My grandfather Jacinto Avalos Levy was very proud of his Jewish heritage and background and was always proud when someone would call him names, like if he’d do something and they would say “oh, you Jew”, he’d be like “oh yes, I’m recognised as a Jew”, he would love that.

A couple of years ago the Spanish government decided to do informal reparations to allow Latin American families of Jewish heritage to become Jewish citizens in response to the fact that they expelled all the Ladino Jews from Spain.

So it turns out that I’m not only Jewish on my grandfather’s side but on my grandmother’s side whose story is very much about persecution in Spain. They are Marrano, converted Jews who wanted to assimilate and adapt to the culture they were thrust in to.

I think it used to bother me as a kid that I might not be accepted in certain Jewish communities but now not at all. It’s not about them it’s about me. No one can tell you that you’re Jewish or not.

If you think about your genealogy, if you missed a single person in that tree, even if it’s hundreds of years ago, then you cease to exist. It’s about what I think and how I feel and how I identify and I don’t need acceptance to feel that.

Dulce is by far the greatest, most fearless person I know. When we met I always knew she was going to be awesome. But I never imagined she was going to become into the whirlwind powerhouse of a woman that she is. Not that I didn’t see her potential. She has just exceeded anything I could imagine.

Dulce has always helped me improve and become better and she’s taught me so much over the years about how to be a better man and how to be a better ally to women. I’ll always be very grateful for that. Besides that I’ve always been madly in love with her. And now she’s family. She’s my home.

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