Humans of TCGMC: Gino Fraboni
“I just think of how fortunate I am to have a mom and three dads.” Let’s meet Gino Fraboni, one of our new singers from this season!
Gino: One of the most common questions I get after people see my name is “Oh, are you Italian?” Yes, I am.
Josh: WHAT IS YOUR FULL NAME?
Gino: Gino Fobbe Fraboni. Fobbe is not Italian, and my mom would be angry if I didn’t mention that I’m more Polish than I am Italian. Growing up, though, the Italian traditions were the strongest in the family. They were centered around big holidays, big family gatherings with lots of food. It was always, “Who’s going to make meatballs with grandma this year?” Sugo – the red sauce – it would always be someone’s job to make it. I can’t tell you everything, but there’s a secret. You start it with salt pork, garlic, and it’s basically a tomato red sauce with tomatoes and cloves. Italian red sauces are different depending on where your family’s from.
Josh: WHERE IS YOUR FAMILY FROM?
Gino: They’re in central Italy, they live in a suburb of Rome and originally are from east of there, towards the coast. I’m fifth or sixth cousins with my relatives in Italy.
Josh: AND DO YOU, YOURSELF, COOK?
Gino: I do. My earliest memories are with my grandma, helping her make meatballs. I remember sitting in the living room, looking through the kitchen window at my mom. I would ask her, “Mom, you have to speak louder! Tell us what you’re doing!” She would say “Why” and I would say, “So the audience can hear you!” Everyone joined around the table. No one can be super angry when you’re eating a home cooked meal. No one can be mad when there’s a big plate of pasta. Food and cooking with others has always been a big source of peace in my life. Cooking is how I show love the best. If cooking were a love language, that would be mine.
Josh: AND DON’T YOU COOK NOW?
Gino: I work at a restaurant. I am a pasta and focaccia prep assistant. I go in there early and make pasta, bread, and I get to know I fed so many people that day.
Josh: DELIGHTFUL! IS ANYONE ELSE IN YOUR FAMILY INVOLVED IN THE RESTAURANT BUSINESS?
Gino: My brother Domenic and I will do a “Chopped” challenge. We’ll have three ingredients and it’ll be like, “You’ve got entrees, I’ve got dessert, GO.” When my great grandfather and great grandmother came to America, they started a sausage company called “Fraboni Sausage Company” in Hibbing, MN. Apparently there are lots of Italians up there. My great grandma really did not want my great grandpa to go into the mines, so she said, “We’ll start a grocery store.” It’s no longer owned by my immediate family, but I remember growing up and running around these industrial-sized refrigerators. It was just a cavernous storage unit of meat.
Josh: THAT MIGHT BE THE BEST DESCRIPTION OF A FRIDGE I’VE EVER HEARD. THANK YOU FOR THAT, GINO – GENUINELY. YOU MENTIONED THAT NO ONE IN YOUR IMMEDIATE FAMILY WAS INVOLVED IN THE COMPANY NOW. I’VE HAD THE PLEASURE OF MEETING YOUR FATHER, AMERICO, AND HIS HUSBAND.
Gino: Yes. My family life shifted a lot when I was in 9th grade and my father came out to the family, and that he and my mom were getting divorced. The most significant part about the situation is that my parents’ primary goal was to keep the family together. They told me that “This doesn’t change who we are – just how we look.” Love was always at the center.
Josh: YOUR DAD HAS HIS OWN COMING OUT EXPERIENCE, BUT I’M GUESSING HE’S NOT THE ONLY ONE IN THE FAMILY WHO’S HAD THAT EXPERIENCE.”
Gino: What?! Yes, I am, as you might say, a gay. I came out after my dad. A lot of people asked if it was really easy for me to come out after my dad. In some ways yes, some ways no. When I came out, I set a deadline as my 18th birthday. I always knew that my dad had blazed that trail, so I wasn’t worried about my family. As soon as my dad came out, I took a deep breath. After all, there could only be one gay person in the family! “My dad’s gay – I can’t be gay.” I used him as an excuse to fester self-hatred.
Josh: WELL DESPITE THAT, THINGS SEEM TO HAVE CHANGED. ALONG WITH YOUR DAD AND HIS HUSBAND, I MET A LOT OF YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS AT THIS YEAR’S “SING IT FORWARD” EVENT FOR THE CHORUS. I MET YOUR MOM AND HER PARTNER, YOUR COUSIN AND HIS WIFE, YOUR BROTHER… THEY WERE SO SUPPORTIVE.
Gino: And my cousin, Clayton – another chorus member, Bill Evert, is his father.
Josh: WHAT?! AHHHH! I DIDN’T REALIZE THAT! WELL, TELL ME WHAT IT IS THAT YOU LEARNED FROM THEM. FAMILY IS SOMETHING THAT – GOOD OR BAD – STAYS WITH YOU. WHAT HAVE THEY GIVEN YOU?
Gino: You could say love, but that’s, well, boring. Music has always been a huge part of my family. My mom went to college to become a pianist, but she changed to social work. Her favorite thing is for me and my brothers to stand around the piano with her and sing showtunes. I grew up with showtunes playing in the kitchen singing the words to Rent before I knew what the words meant. I did a full dance to “La Vie Boheme.”
Josh: THAT’S PRETTY GAY. AND THAT’S A PRETTY EXPLICIT SONG!
Gino: Yes! And I still don’t know what all the words mean. But music and theater have been essential to our family unit. All of us played piano, sang in choir.
Though, really it does come right back to love. I just think of how fortunate I am to have a mom and three dads. To say I have four parental units who I know care about me and I know love me… They all have different personalities, but they add such spice to our family. When I was in college, everyone said I should write a book, since I was the English major, and that would be the title: Me, My Mom, and My Three Dads.