Free in “PV”

Puerto Vallarta, 2021 (Photo courtesy of the author).

Having just renewed my passport, I was thrilled when my friend Randy suggested I come visit him in Puerto Vallarta, lovingly referred to as PV. I had only ever heard of the city from game shows that offered it as a resort prize, but was delighted to learn it was the gay capital of Mexico, situated in the state of Jalisco. Coincidentally, this was where my ancestors originated according to 23andMe, so I already felt a connection to the land. Everything about this seemed right.

I was approaching my mid-thirties, having just barely lost my virginity to a woman three years prior, and came out to myself as gay. This realization happened only after vacillating between thinking I was bi (because I’d been with women) and then asexual (because I wasn’t attracted to women and I couldn’t perform during my first gay encounter). After giving gay sex another good ol’ college try, it felt right, but I was still left with a lot of questions. So, you can imagine what that meant when I visited a gay destination thousands of miles from home: I was gonna do a lot of experimenting. Disembarking from the plane, I listened to Lady Gaga’s song “Free Woman, my coming out soundtrack, unknowingly symbolic of what lay in store.

Almost immediately after I landed, Randy took me to a pool party up in the hills at a gay resort. The bouncer at the front gate was a daddy with a gray beard and shaved head, and with a pounding heart, I let him know that I found him sexy. He gave me a chaste kiss in response that left me reeling and emboldened. Within ten minutes, margarita in hand, I was making out with a different guy and as you’d expect, I was dejected when he began flirting with someone else a few minutes later. I was still so young and didn’t realize that was the norm in these kinds of settings. So, I moved on.

Later, after a dinner and more margaritas on a rooftop restaurant overlooking the ocean, Randy suggested we head into the gay district, the appropriately named Zona Romántica. We went from bar to bar, flirting with both local men and fellow sojourners. There was an air of lightheartedness in the air, associated with people also on vacation. Naturally, I ended the night leaving with a guy who’s name I’ve long forgotten.

 The sex was fair, but as I trekked back to Randy’s place at 2am, I breathed in the tropical air and realized how right I felt. I could openly express my attraction to men, I could talk with my hands, and I could wear tight clothes. For the first time in my life, I was happy to be gay, and could enjoy being me. I didn’t know it at the time, but this moment was a spiritual realization – the first step in allowing me fuller self-acceptance.

Two nights later, as I was falling asleep after a night of partying and other forms of debauchery, I began to think about how this land unexplainably felt like home. Thinking about how my ancestors had come from this state a hundred years ago, it’s almost as if I felt their essence beginning to speak to me.

Having grown up in the American south without any specific cultural practices, my Mexican, Filipino, and Spanish heritage had always been another reason why I was so different from everyone else. And it was even more embarrassing that I wasn’t raised speaking any of those languages, since my family was taught generations ago not to speak their native tongues in order to assimilate. I felt like I was an alien who never really fit into any box.

Yet here, in Puerto Vallarta, I finally felt like I could identify with some part of my heritage. My Spanish came easier, and the people seemed more familiar. I could sense my ancestors telling me that I was doing all the right steps in my life, and that the uncertainty regarding my sexuality would not last forever.

The spiritual lesson was that by relating to a part of my ancestry, I was able to connect deeper to my intuition, a part of me that had been buried deep within my soul, always speaking, yet always in a whisper, so it took effort to listen to it. And with the celebration of my true gay identity, I was able to learn more about myself and expressing myself more comfortably.

The next night, Randy and I were dancing in a club when a beautiful woman named Marisol came and surrounded the group of men I was with. We all danced and had fun, but she seemed to take a special liking to me. I danced with her, thinking that this was another straight girl who enjoyed having fun with gay men. We exchanged Instagram handles and I thought nothing else of it.

A few minutes later, one of the guys in the group invited me to his hotel room, so I let Randy know where I was heading and ventured off with my new friend. We got to his hotel and as things began to get heavy, he stopped, went to his drawer, and got out a line of cocaine. After snorting, like a true gentleman, he offered it to me. I declined. Though I was in my “wild” era, I knew enough not to take drugs from strangers. My deflating erection was unable to recover from that, and we parted ways a few minutes later. I left the hotel dejected that I couldn’t keep it up, which left me questioning my gayness. In hindsight of course, it was clear that I was only responding to the unexpectedness of the situation .

Texting Randy on WhatsApp, I learned that he and the rest of the group we met were having a house party a few blocks away. I got to the house and was greeted by a bunch of guys running around half-naked, listening to techno. Reaching the backyard, I was relieved to find Randy and several others relaxing in a hot tub, and like a forgotten flower on the side of the road, Marisol was coyly smiling at me in the corner.

I don’t remember all that transpired, but within a short time, I found myself simultaneously making out with a guy and … fingering Marisol. This was objectively a very hot moment – a collision of my old pseudo attraction to women with the burning fire I was having with men. And I left that experience knowing I had almost no attraction to women after all.

When I was embracing my sexual nature, I was true to myself and to the God that created me. Throughout my life I had ascribed to the purity culture mindset, which taught that every form of sexual expression except straight marriage was shameful. After this trip, I began to believe that with proper consent and precautions that it’s OK to have gay sex, it’s OK to have straight sex, and it’s OK to want neither, or both. My sexuality  wasn’t a straight line (no pun intended) ranging from only straight to only gay; it was a diorama of endless possibility for it to be whatever I wanted it to be. And when I listened to my heart, I was able to affirm how God created me.

I left PV two days later, fully transformed and owning the parts of me that I’d never fully expressed before. To be fair, it was one of those experiences that I don’t need to have again. There were other experiences I glossed over that in hindsight weren’t the most wise, such as while on PrEP, I ended up with a “souvenir” that required me to have a course of antibiotics. Nonetheless, it was one of those experiences I think many people get to experience in their twenties – carefree, wild, and kind of foolish— yet here I was experiencing it in my thirties, and it shaped my development as a gay man.

Now, I’m married to my dream man, with whom there’s no question whether I’m asexual or straight. With him, I’m unequivocally gay. I’m emotionally, and definitely physically, drawn to him. We live a beautiful life that can get challenging at times, but I never have the temptation to think the “grass is greener on the other side” since I’ve already experienced all the fun I think I could want. My PV experience lives rent free in my mind as a memory of gratitude for being a steppingstone to discovering a well-aligned path for my life.


David Monticalvo is a speaker, facilitator, and writer in queer spirituality. He began to celebrate his gayness in his mid-30s, after experiencing an unplanned period of transition. During this difficult time, he discovered the teachings of Unity, which empowered him to view his journey as divine and perfect. He’s now in training to become a minister and leads a group for gay men to explore their spirituality. He’s currently working on his first book about how gay men can heal themselves and the world through the power of celebration. You can learn more about him on his website, and follow him Instagram @davidmonticalvo.


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