Brazil is internationally known as a welcoming, warm and beautiful country, but there are more layers than you can imagine – it has the world’s largest LGBT+ parade, and same-sex marriage is legal, but it also has a huge instance of hate crimes against LGBT+ people and elected an openly homophobic president.
You may have wondered why would someone would chose to leave that “summer paradise” to come to this cold and wet country, but have you also wondered how it feels to be an LGBT+ individual coming from such a homophobic country?
Growing up in a toxic masculine society was not easy, I always knew I was different from everyone else. Even coming from the most developed city in Brazil, Sao Paulo, where people technically should be more open-minded, unfortunately, they aren’t. Bullying has always been part of my life and in a certain way, taught me to stand up for myself and develop a very sharp tongue.
The wish to move away and learn new languages was always there. My grandmother was a world traveler, she had a box with postcards from all around the world and was such a big influence on me. All the stories about different cultures and the places she’d been grew on me. She died when I was nine, but the seed was planted.
When I turned 21, I was in the last year of business college. Back then, my English learning was based on Rihanna lyrics and it was time to change that. I decided to move to Ireland for only a year, but Ireland had bigger plans for me.
I got here in 2014 and a few months later the referendum campaign for marriage equality happened. I had never seen so many rainbow flags, so many people talking about our community and so much support. It was the first time that I felt safe to hold my boyfriend’s hand on the street with no fear.
I have never faced any homophobic situations in Ireland toward me, but working as a writer for GCN for over a year and being Mr Gay Ireland for almost two years, I could see how Ireland is still not there yet. There were some LGBT+ phobic cases around the country that quite surprised me – compared to Brazil, Ireland is heaven, but comparing it to other more developed countries where hate crime is taken more seriously, there is still a lot of room to improve and people we need to do more to protect.
The Irish community is very welcoming to most people. I think it does not really matter where you come from if you are ready to have the craic. Brazilians and Irish people are very similar in some ways and that’s how we blend so well. This tiny country has a big heart with space for everyone.
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