By: Al Ballesteros

The YOCISCO brand, known for its sharp designs and well-fitting underwear is about to celebrate 10 years in business. At its core, the brand is ‘on a mission to fuel a movement of confidence for all men to feel good about their bodies’ by providing high-quality men’s bamboo underwear that makes a man look and feel his best.

The company was founded by Gabriel Medina, aka, CISCO, this month’s cover model, former popular Go-go dancer, and the creative brain behind the brand. YOCISCO is now a national and international brand found across the United States, United Kingdom, and Japan. Gabriel and Angelica, a father and daughter team work together to manage YOCISCO. We spoke with them about their working together to build the brand, growing together in a gay family and the adversity that accompanied that, overcoming that adversity as well as their plans for the future of the company. They also provided advice from their “lived experience” to other gay families raising or considering raising children.

An entrepreneur and a gay Latino businessman, Gabriel Medina developed YOCISCO while traveling the world as a model, Go-go dancer and young father to a daughter, Angelica. Early on he held a position in the home mortgage industry, but his career had to shift after the housing crash of 2008. The mortgage industry was no longer able to provide him with the means to take care of himself and his daughter. Soon after, Gabriel began writing to capture what was happening around him. Through this creativity YOCISCO was born. Gabriel says for many years YOCISCO has been an apparel brand but to him and his daughter, it is their life, legacy, and a ‘beacon of hope’ for the future.
When Gabriel reflects on his journey and especially the past 10 years in business, he says he is “engulfed” with memories of the trials and tribulations that have been part of the process of building the YOCISCO brand. “The hard work, long hours, the peaks and valleys of growth, the strengthening of my relationship with my daughter and the confidence to be bold enough to go after our dreams,” are noteworthy in his mind.

The YOCISCO brand was initially focused on just underwear but now offers sustainable backpacks, duffle bags, bamboo socks, travel bags, lounge wear, swimwear, all with a focus of sustainability, which is a big element of the brand. YOCISCO says it utilizes bamboo, because the bamboo plant is much more sustainable, doesn’t use as much water as cotton, and doesn’t require pesticides. The fabric itself is said to be superior to cotton, much softer, odor absorbing and just a better all-around product, “especially when it comes to underwear” says Gabriel. “Your underwear is something that is close to your body and private parts so you want to have an excellent product like bamboo that can keep you dry. It does cost a little more, but the product is superior.”

Father and Daughter Team:
Gabriel, now in his late 40s and Angelica her mid-20s, are a father and daughter team and together manage the company. They seek to turn YOCISCO into a legacy of their dreams, creativity and hard work. Gabriel’s dream has transformed into a shared vision encompassing him and his daughter. When he embarked on this journey, Gabriel says he never thought that his daughter would eventually become his trusted business partner and confidante.

Angelica is the creative director and chief marketing officer, as well as photographer and videographer. She produces photographs and videos for the company that are also created and edited by her. She also helps manage product categories. Because YOCISCO is a small company, the owners/managers must take on multiple roles, something Angelica and Gabriel are happy to do. Angelica has a fashion marketing degree and says she specifically went to school for that degree to take on a role in YOCISCO.

Gabriel, aka CISCO is the Founder and CEO does all the designs and handles the social media and email marketing, company strategy elements and serves as the overall face of the brand. There is another business partner, Branden, who assists with strategy, operations management, website management, interfaces with the factories producing the products and helps with business negotiations.

Adelante: Gabriel, how is it to have at your side Angelica managing the YOCISCO brand?
Gabriel: I’m so proud. Every day she impresses me with her passion, her knowledge and experience. She’s been through a lot of difficult times in life and those experiences have just molded her into an incredible person. I’m proud of her every day. A lot of people remember her as a little girl. Now I want them all to see what an incredible person she has become.

Adelante: Your father had dreams to create this national brand. Was your career path influenced by your father’s vision?
Angelica: My dad had a significant influence on my dreams and aspirations. Growing up fashion was always a big part of my life. Having a gay father, I was always dressed to the ‘nines’ and we would go to the mall and shopping for stuff. I remember we watched Dior fashion shows and he’d always make sure I was immersed in fashion. My mom was also big in fashion. Fashion has always been a part of my life and it really came to fruition when my dad created his own brand. I got to see what went on behind the scenes, not just the glamor of the industry, but the actual hard work that it takes such as manufacturing, marketing, media, etc. The brand was the push I needed to know for sure this was the career I wanted to go into.

Gabriel says when Angelica was young, he pushed her into acting and singing lessons. Angelica was a competitive cheerleader and one who gravitated towards being in the public eye. “I always envisioned her being an actress or something like that.” “We came to a happy medium when her career path turned to fashion and the apparel industry,” says Gabriel.

Adelante: What is it like working together. Can you talk candidly about challenges or disagreements in the business like other persons would if they are not family?
Angelica: Yes, even better. I am my father’s daughter. We have a flow and synergy and a lot of times we think alike. While our work ethic may be a little different, I’m really a super perfectionist and he’s not, the culmination in the end has us always aligned. There has not ever been a time that we’ve had a blow up and have not been able to talk about it. We have never been mad at one another for more than an hour. We are like Yin and Yang. People say, don’t mix business and family. But in our situation, it is perfect. There is not one time I ever felt I could not work with my dad. We bring out creativity in each other.

Gabriel says Angelica’s formal education in fashion is helpful to the company but also notes her extensive background in retail. “She is somebody I can trust, and I run everything by her. I think she brings a different perspective to our business.” “As a gay man I see things from that perspective. Angelica brings an understanding of the mainstream market and a completely different perspective that I may not see. “She brings a fresh set of eyes while at the same time, she was raised in the gay community and understands that community well. This helps us navigate which way to go.

Gabriel says he has witnessed Angelica’s evolution and how she has become an exceptional businesswoman and that she has a profound understanding of the apparel industry. Her creativity has propelled YOCISCO to new heights. “Angelica has far exceeded my expectations, becoming an embodiment of my own aspirations. Having been raised amidst the LGBTQIA+ community, she possesses a profound understanding that only adds to her suitability as my ideal business partner.”

Early Years as a Young Father

Adelante: You became a father at a young age. Can you share a bit of how that was?
Gabriel: I found out I was going to be a dad at 19. I was really scared. It was my freshman year at the University of Colorado. Her mom and I dated throughout high school, and once I got to college we separated. Because I was going to be a father, I had to change a lot of things. I left that college and moved to a different college in downtown Denver where I could work, be a dad and a family man. I was a closeted gay man, and I was not being true to myself. I decided to come out when Angelica was one year old. A lot of people would ask how I had a child given I was gay? I just wanted to make sure I was being true to myself in that disclosure. I did not know how I was going to raise a daughter. There was no blueprint, that I saw, back in the late 1990s on gay parenting. There was no one for me to look up to so I had to figure out how to do it myself.

Adelante: Some gay parents say they were hesitant to be out believing that was better to protect the child from adversity and negativity in the world. Other families say it is best to be open and show who we are. Both pathways have consequences which must be considered.

Adelante: Were you out to your family and daughter?
Gabriel: I came out at 20. It was important for me to be out. I didn’t want to be in a position with Angelica when she was older to tell her, everything I told you was a lie. I always wanted to be open and truthful with her about who I was. Angelica was raised in an environment where being gay was a normal thing. That was how I wanted to do it. I also wanted to be very honest with her mother and did not want to trap her in a relationship where I knew I could not love her the way she needed to be loved.

Dealing with Adversity:

Adelante: What was it like for you as a child with a gay dad?
Angelica: It was amazing, at home. I was raised in and around it, and it was like yea, I have two dads. My dad and his first boyfriend were there for the first eight years of my life. We had a nice, three-bedroom home. That was normal for me. My father never told me ‘Your family dynamic is different’ than others and the world may not view it as normal. It was a bit of a downfall that we never had that conversation because I did share with some people that I had two dads at home, and to some that was not ok. That was the first time I realized our lifestyle was not ‘normal’. I had a friend who told her parents about the two dads, and she was not allowed to talk or play with me anymore. That is when I realized not everyone lived the way we did. That was the first time I experienced discrimination and hate. My home life was amazing, and it wasn’t till the world told me it was wrong and gave me hate towards it that I realized something was up.
Gabriel: That is one of the things I regret. We never sat down and had conversations about people out there that don’t like our lifestyle.

Adelante: Young children are very impressionable; did you ever think that negative sentiment had any validity?
Angelica: I never questioned whether my dad being gay was “right”. I never believed what they were saying was true. Life at home was great. My dad took me to the mall and bought me lip gloss. I thought – I bet you don’t do that with your dad…!

It made me angry that some people viewed my dad as less because he was gay. I was like, let me tell you how awesome my dad is, how dare you! How dare them say my dad was going to go to hell because of the way he lived! However, I did not want to go to school and be harassed. So, I started to keep quiet about my home life. It was more me protecting my dad. I only trusted certain people to talk to about my family life. I also did not want to skew my life and have people not invite me to their homes or be with me as friends because of my home situation. Because of this, I began keeping my home life a secret until my senior year of high school. This secrete came to a head in high school when someone came up to me and confronted me about my dad being gay. I was 17. I was so tired and annoyed. I said yes, my dad is gay. So, what! At that point, I felt if they had a problem with it, so what. I stopped caring about what they thought. I knew my family was awesome.

Adelante: All that must have hurt.
Angelica: It was frustrating. I would tell people how awesome my dad was but all they saw was his gay identify.

Adelante: So how did you eventually get through it all?
Gabriel: We are a very tight-knit Latino family. All the family members were very accepting and that made a huge difference. Her mother was fantastic, and her grandparents were wonderful. We had a lot of love and support and that made all the difference in the world. They all helped raise her.

Adelante: What was it like when you found out your father was a popular Go-go dancer?
Angelica: We never talked about his job. I didn’t know what he did. I knew dad traveled and brought me lots of presents and cool stuff when he got back home. He kept that side of him separate when I was a child. Maybe I found out when I was in high school. It wasn’t until I was an older teenager that I found out how popular he was. Now I see photos of him, in his underwear, and I think that’s awesome, you did you and created a business out of that. Now we have this business we are building together.

Future Goals:

Angelica says the YOCISCO brand primarily serves men “at this time” but there have been talks about expanding into the women’s market. Most of YOCISCO’s customers are in the LGBTQ+ community with 98% being male so they have a very specific demographic. YOCISCO believes it makes great underwear for all men, whether one is gay or straight and looks forward to having an eventual share of the mainstream market as well.

Angelica: I have a lot of goals. I hope to break off a segment of YOCISCO for women’s wear one day. I’m also growing my social media of 40k followers on TikTok. I share about my having grown up with a gay father because there is not a lot of info out there. When there is a void in information, it is easy to hate. When there is more info out there about how great it is to be raised in a gay family, how fun it is, how supportive it can be, how safe it is, and how amazing kids are when raised by gay parents, people’s mindsets will begin to change.
Being in a gay family is the same as being in other families. I want to spread that awareness.

Adelante: This is the worse it has been with anti-gay sentiment, the anti-trans legislation, policies to limit access to government funded health care for gender conforming conditions. It seems the community is under a renewed and constant attack.
Angelica: I think it’s propaganda that has placed a target on our backs. We are being scapegoated because we are a lifestyle people don’t understand and because of the labels they put on us. We are being called groomers and child molesters and these are very inflammatory names. It puts an angry target on our community and inflames people. This puts us in a dangerous position and leads to people being killed.

Gabriel: Our community has become more mainstream and part of the culture. We can have children and get married. It seems the religious right is leading the charge, and this is not what Christianity should be about.

Advice to Gay Families:

Adelante: Your story is wonderful. You raised a child as a young gay man who has turned out to be an amazing human being and professional. These stories need to be told more often.
Angelica: Exactly, that is what my TikTok page is for. Because of this page, I have met other people that had experiences with gay parents I could relate to. There are a lot of them popping up on TikTok. This lifestyle is embraced on TikTok. When you find others who share your story, you feel like you’re not alone. I do believe gay men raise amazing children, they create an amazing atmosphere, because of what they have experienced. They raise children who want to do good and fight for the world. Because they likely experienced hate, they want to raise their children in an environment of love. I attribute how I came out as an adult to the love given to me from my dad.

Angelica plans on getting married in November of 2024. Kids are likely down the road. Gabriel says he is looking forward to it and to experiencing what it will be like to have grandchildren. He’s looking forward to seeing Angelica go into the next phase of her life, as a mother and wife.

Adelante: What advice do you have for LGBT couples with kids or thinking about kids?
Gabriel: I would give them the same advice as to any couple, lead with love. Follow through with your kids, when you tell them you’re going to do something, do it. Support them with what they want to do. Love them and be there for them. For gay parents, discuss with them the adversity that is out there based on their family, make sure they are aware.

Angelica: Educate your children about the struggles they may face in schools, especially if you live outside of the big cities. My parents always hyped me up at home. They told me I was the most beautiful girl. Also, as a Latina, I faced discrimination. My parents and grandparents told me at a young age being Latina was awesome. Because of the support I had at home, whatever people in the world would say, it did not affect me. None of those comments ever had me question whether I was loved. If you build your kids up, when people try to break them down, they won’t be able to. They will have around them a brick wall of confidence that you’ve instilled in them.

Adelante congratulates Gabriel and Angelica on a successful 10 years of YOCISCO.
Gabriel says reaching this 10-year milestone has become possible because of the continued love and support of the LGBTQA+ community. “Because of the community we have been granted the opportunity to pursue our passions and spread our message”. As they celebrate 10 years, they look forward to infinite possibilities in the future.