Alisha Lopez is a proud mother of twin boys with her fiance, Vanessa Gadea. She is a successful business owner, a lifelong athlete, a Spartan racer and a public speaker for Parents, Families, Lesbians, and Gays (PFLAG). But it wasn’t long ago that her life was dark and filled with self-hate. Read on for how she found purpose and is living her truth.
Alisha Lopez, 45, remembers a time in her life when she was so filled with self-hate that she contemplated driving her car into a pole. Growing up gay and afraid to come out to her family and friends, she didn’t feel life was worth living, she says.
Fast forward to today and Lopez is living, what she calls, her truth. She has trained hundreds to be their best at her Obstacle Course Racing specific gym in Long Beach, California. She found a lifelong partner in her fiance, Vanessa Gadea. And five years ago they started a family, welcoming twin boys, Jaden and Cayden, into the world.
So, what saved her life? Sports and family, she says.
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No relationship is ever perfect. We’ve had our highs our lows, but we’ve both cared enough to give us our 💯, and for that I respect and adore you. Thank you for always supporting me on this wild ride of life @vanessa_gadea #momoftwins #longbeach #longbeachmoms #longbeachcommunity #mompreneur #pride #lesbian
How Alisha Lopez Went From a Place of Self-hate to Living Her Truth
Spartan Race: How did your early life lead you to the woman you are today?
Alisha Lopez: Honestly, I grew up with a lot of self-hate. Being gay, it was very challenging. The thing that saved me was being a great athlete. I grew up playing soccer, cross country, track and field. Sports is what saved my life. I really didn’t like who I was, and at times, the way I was treated. I didn’t know how to deal with it. Coming from a very religious family, being gay was frowned upon. I lived in the closet for the good part of my life and really had a lot of self-hate. So for me, sport was my survival.
SR: When was the moment that you started living your truth?
AL: It was a whole process of understanding who I am. I’ve run into some ugly situations. There are people who are just not accepting. It’s getting better but especially being Latina, in our community it’s frowned upon, so it was hard. Honestly, the pivotal moment was five years ago when I had children. I’ve always wanted to be a mom but saw it as something that would never happen. One, because I was not educated and two, because I just really didn’t understand the process. Until I met my fiance and we started talking about it and then we had our boys. It became one of the most beautiful experiences. How can I raise these boys to be 100% authentic if I can’t even be that myself?
Alisha Lopez Conquered Obstacles to Create her Modern Family
SR: How did you know Vanessa was the one you wanted to start a family with?
AL: She's intelligent and beautiful and when I met her [in my mid-30s] I was like wow, she’s really something special. It’s difficult to meet people when you’re not out. She was the first lesbian that I ever dated. She really intrigued me and so after several years with her we talked about kids. The most important thing to me was, do you want to have kids? She definitely knew she wanted children as well so then we went through that process of, okay well, how do we even do it? That in itself was a hurdle to overcome.
SR: So, how did the two of you figure out your path to parenthood?
AL: Now, we have a tribe of 10-15 moms, we’re so close and we share things. But back then, we didn’t have that. We didn’t know what the process was but I remember one of the ladies I worked with went through a sperm bank. Vanessa and I joked like well how do we reach out to her? We were embarrassed to ask. Luckily we had enough guts to reach out to her and say, hey we really want to have children, do you mind sitting down with us and explaining the whole process? This stuff isn’t taught in school. And now people ask us for advice, which is so cool. Younger couples will ask us, so how did you do it? How much does it cost? It can get expensive so there’s a lot of things to take into consideration.
SR: What was the process of getting pregnant like?
AL: We went through California Sperm Bank and Vanessa is the carrier. We had to decide who was going to carry the babies and that wasn’t something that resonated with me but Vanessa was like I totally want to have the babies, so we were blessed. It’s a really awesome process to go through. It’s not like picking a kid, but it’s like picking a daddy. The donor is anonymous but he could literally be my brother with his characteristics. We wanted someone who was athletic and creative. [The sperm donor] is musical, a great drawer, loves to travel, which Vanessa loves, so we tried to look for characteristics like myself and her, and our boys are just simply amazing. We are blessed that we got two for the price of one!
SR: Have there been any tough interactions with others?
AL: We live in Long Beach which is a huge gay community. The mayor’s gay. So it’s accepting for the most part here but recently we were at the Long Beach Pride Parade and I’m walking hand in hand with my boys and there were demonstrators saying really hateful stuff. I saw one of my boys put his head down. He didn’t know how to comprehend why there was so much hate. He asked me after, “Mama, why were those people being so mean to us?” And I said, “Baby, sometimes people just don’t understand that you have two mamas, but that’s okay, you still got to love people like that and try to understand that they just don’t know us. When they know us, maybe they will learn to accept us. But you keep your head up high because our family is different but our family is special.”
How Alisha Lopez Gives Back to the Spartan Community
SR: Are you able to connect with the people in the Spartan community? AL: Absolutely. The Spartan community is amazing. I’ve met so many people in our community that are gay and I’ve also met some that have asked, “Hey, how did you come out?” and I tell them, “It’s when you’re ready. You don’t have to come out, it’s whenever you’re ready and willing to be who you are.” I always tell people, don’t rush if you’re not ready. Because some people are still afraid. It’s sad. I know that feeling because I was so afraid to come out. I was afraid I’d lose family and friends. But at the end of the day, you have to be you. I remember hugging this individual and being like, you’ll be okay. And if you need someone to talk to I’m here.
SR: What advice would you give your younger self?
AL: We’re all born for a reason. I would tell my younger self, even though you are feeling this way right now, there is so much more that you have to offer to this world. You have to believe that down to your core, that you are just simply amazing and beautiful. Don’t let anyone put you in a box, no matter how different you may feel. No matter how far from the norm that you may be. It’s okay. Shape, size, color, sexuality, it doesn’t matter. You’re you. Live your truth.