Gloria Estefan is a beloved singer the world over, but at home she’s a mother, grandmother, wife, and human being. And while the Estefans are very public figures, they’ve mostly kept their personal lives within their circle of trust — at least until the recent launch of the Facebook Watch series Red Table Talk: The Estefans.
Much like the original Red Table Talk created by Jada Pinkett-Smith, The Estefans is a family affair: Gloria is joined at the table by daughter Emily Estefan and niece Lili Estefan for raw, honest conversations about a variety of important topics that may prove beneficial to others going through similar circumstances.
In an exclusive clip from episode 2, “Emily’s Coming Out Story,” Emily reveals that her mother was shocked to learn that her “miracle baby” was queer, and her initial reaction was to keep Emily from telling her grandmother, whom Gloria thought could die from the news.
“I came out to my parents like in 2017. But as you’ll see on the show, I think they knew way before that,” Emily, 25, tells EW. “What I’m most excited about in this episode is the complexity of it all. I wouldn’t be doing anybody justice if I went up there and lied and said that it was easy or that there weren’t complex emotions involved, even though my mom has been such a fierce supporter of the LGBTQ community. Everybody has a perspective. And as human beings, we’re always trying to be understood instead of understanding. As you’ll see in the clip, it was difficult for me to hear that. No matter under any perspective, those words were difficult to hear.”
Emily’s grandmother Gloria Fajardo, whom she was very close to, died in 2017, without ever having that conversation. Whether the matriarch of the family knew Emily’s sexual orientation remains unknown.
“That is one of my biggest unanswered questions that I will live the rest of my life with,” Emily says somberly. “Many of the people around me that love me have told me they knew. But in my heart, my grandmother and I were so close but I’m really not sure. But that’s part of life too — you don’t get every answer that you want. I’m also learning that regrets are a waste of time. But I’m still on that journey. A few years ago, I would’ve never imagined that we’d be talking about this as I’m about to release an episode where I say things I’ve not even told family members of mine. I’m still growing and learning.”
Emily is known as the “miracle baby” because she was conceived after Gloria’s devastating tour bus accident in 1990; doctors told her she wouldn’t be able to have any more children. Gloria and her husband, super-producer Emilio Estefan, were already parents to a son, Nayib Estefan, who is 15 years Emily’s senior.
That added a layer of pressure to be perfect throughout Emily’s life — not just for her family, but for all the fans, too. Her coming out became tabloid fodder in Spanish-language media when her relationship with Gemeny Hernandez was discovered, resulting in Emily receiving hate messages on social media that continue to this day.
“My parents would tell me all the time that we all have to earn respect, which I totally understand and fully agree with,” she says. “Life is difficult and you don’t know what people’s intentions are all the time. When my dad started dating my mom, my grandma would slam the door in his face! My parents never exhibited anything extreme like that when it came to my relationships, but they would remind me what their courtship was like. I would let them know that we’re going through similar things, but in different colors. Life is about repetition and trying to pick up new things along the way. My grandma came from a time where she didn’t go on a date with my grandpa until they had their marriage certificate, and even then her mom was chaperoning them. They didn’t kiss until they were married.”
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Gloria and Emily have spent a lot of time working on their relationship, even going to therapy together, which is ongoing. Emily and Gemeny have been together for nearly four years now, and Gemeny has been welcomed into the Estefan family.
“Family dynamics are hard, no matter what,” Emily says. “Gem is one of those people who is like a mirror: She came into my life and showed me my truth. Sometimes that’s not beautiful, but that’s what love is. It’s not beauty or dates or romance all the time, but all of the things that come with love. I’m really young, but I feel that having her by my side has made me truly understand what a loving, adult relationship is like. That’s why it’s been so easy for me to fight this fight and speak my truth, because it’s all worth it. She helped me be brave. Now she has a relationship with my family which is the incredible part and can maybe be explored in season 2? Having her come to sit at the table and talk about those dynamics. Everybody loves each other, but as I said, love isn’t easy. And you know what it’s like being a part of a Latino family. The baby starts dating somebody, even if it’s Mickey Mouse, they still wouldn’t think he’s good enough!”
Emily understands that not everyone will be happy watching this episode, but she’s hopeful that viewers will understand how complex familial relationships can be.
“Fear is the opposite of love,” she says after taking a deep breath. “I think I am ready for people to hear my story. People don’t realize that me and my mom are two generations apart. Generationally, we’re split more than some parents and their kids are. I know there will be people who will resonate with her side of it, and for that I am thankful. The same way that there are little gay kids that need to hear my side, there are parents who love their kids to death and they just don’t understand what they need at that moment. I hope this episode helps them just as much. And if we lose anybody along the way, that’s also part of the process. But I think mom is going to be a beacon for people in this situation. Parents sometimes think they’re protecting their kids, and they’re hurting them.”
“Emily’s Coming Out Story” will be released Wednesday, Oct. 14, at noon ET on Facebook Watch.