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Raising a Rainbow

Sabrina Tellez and Janell Gurule’s blended family reflects the nation’s growing diversity.

Sabrina Tellez (l) and Janell Gurule. (Photography by Alex Rosa for OutSmart)

In 2019, when single mothers Sabrina Tellez, 41, and Janell Gurule, 46, first met for brunch and a mimosa at a restaurant in the Heights, neither of the executive-level professionals had a vision of the future that included getting married. Although they had quickly selected the “No Preferred Gender” option on the internet dating app that connected them, neither woman identified as a lesbian, or even bisexual.

Like many single American women today, both Tellez and Gurule were raising children and identifying as mothers, first and foremost.

“It was apparent from my first brunch with Janell that we fit together like puzzle pieces,” Tellez recalls, brimming with joy.

“One mimosa turned into a carafe of mimosas and, four years later, we are still inseparable.“

While the couple has much in common, their backgrounds are very different. Tellez has a strong Latinx lineage, and communication is her superpower. Gurule comes from an Asian-American family and is a genius with numbers.

“I am from a conservative, Asian background, so it took me time to learn that some people’s’ sexuality is fluid, rather than static or fixed,” Gurule notes. “I knew that I never truly felt intimate with men, and when I met Sabrina, I thought to myself, ‘Ahha! This is why!’” she says with a laugh.

Modern Family

Together, the two women have five kids. Gurule’s oldest son, Bryce, is a brilliant 17-year-old red-head, and his charming sister, Briella, is 12 years old.

“We have five of the coolest kids!”
—Sabrina Tellez

Tellez is raising three 16-year-old boys who are triplets. “Tristan is a funny ‘old soul’ and identifies as heterosexual,” she explains. “Travis is the ‘baby,’ and still figuring out who he is. He identifies as bisexual. Ash is a courageous trans male who makes me proud every day.”

A Final Trip to Florida

In April, Gurule and Tellez will stand together on a beautiful beach in Florida and exchange their vows surrounded by friends and family. It is a dream realized for both of them, and a source of joy for their kids.

The couple chose Florida due to family ties, and convenience coupled with the state’s many breathtaking options for beachfront ceremonies.

It is a decision they have come to regret. “I have handled most of the arrangements for our wedding—the cake, the flowers, and more. About 80 percent of the original vendors we contacted for services backed out when they discovered we are a same-sex couple. It’s hard to believe, but it’s true,” Gurule says.

“We will celebrate our love [on a lovely beach], and then we will never step foot in Florida again,” she added bluntly. “It’s time to stand up against this. We must. If we don’t, who will?”

“It was so upsetting to me that I had to step away from it all,” Tellez says with pain in her voice. “Fortunately, Janell was willing to take over the planning, because it really disturbed me.”

But in spite of their wedding preparation nightmares, Gurule and Tellez’s family could not be happier. And being able to raise such a diverse mix of beautiful children is clearly a gift that neither of them saw coming.

Diversity by the Numbers

According to a Gallup Poll published last month, young Americans are rapidly embracing such diversity. The percentage of U.S. adults who self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or “other than heterosexual” has risen to a high of 7.1 percent—double the percentage from 2012, when Gallup launched the poll.

Since then, Gallup reports that the percentage of older adults who identify as LGBTQ has ticked upward only slightly. There has been a notable uptick among millennials, from 5.8 percent in 2012 to 7.8 percent in 2017, and 10.5 percent today.

However, the percentage of Gen Z who identify as LGBTQ has almost doubled since 2017—roughly 21 percent today.

About 57 percent of those who identified in the poll as LGBTQ claim to be bisexual, which is 4 percent of all US adults. Meanwhile, among LGBTQ Americans, 21 percent say they are gay, 14 percent are lesbian, 10 percent are transgender, and 4 percent responded “other.”

These poll results should come as no surprise to Tellez and Gurule. “When you look at me, Janell, and our blended family, you see the entire rainbow,” Tellez concludes with pride. “The best part is that we have five of the coolest kids!”

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Kim Hogstrom

Kim Hogstrom is a regular contributor to OutSmart Magazine.
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