LGBT+ woman opens up on her journey from Brazil to a welcoming new home in Ireland

With a growing number of LGBT+ Brazilians making a new home in Ireland, have they felt welcome and how do attitudes to queer people compare to the situation in their original country?

A young woman in a long coat poses in front of an austere building
Image: Hazel Coonagh

In an intimate interview, Paula Moura, a lesbian woman originally from Brazil, shares what it was like growing up LGBT+ in her home country and how things have changed since coming to Ireland.

I am originally from Macaé, a city about the size of Cork in the state of Rio de Janeiro. It sounds big, but by Brazilian standards, it’s very small – everybody knows everybody.

I spent all my childhood and teenage years in denial about my sexuality, despite having many queer friends. My family is very Catholic on both sides and my parents know I am gay, but I never really came out to them. I was too afraid to say it, so I let them know indirectly, terrified of not being accepted, even though my parents are more open-minded than most. 

I moved to Ireland because my girlfriend is Irish. We met in Paris in 2014 and did long distance for a while before we decided to move in together. We moved to Dublin about three and a half years ago. 

I think LGBT+ people in Ireland (compared to Brazil) seem to have more support from their community. There are charities and NGOs around the country to support LGBT+ people and I think that’s fantastic. I don’t remember having such resources when growing up. Brazil is known abroad to be an inclusive nation but in my opinion, that’s not true. Brazil is a country of ultra-religious, conservative and intolerant people.

A young woman in a long coat poses in front of an austere building

In Ireland I suffered only one upsetting situation in 2016 when a car with young lads drove pass myself and my girlfriend and screamed “fucking lesbians” at us. Nothing like that has happened since. But one thing that upsets me is when men approach myself and my girlfriend on a night out saying that we look good together or asking if they can ‘join’ us. I doubt they would approach a straight couple the same way. And even if they wanted to, they probably wouldn’t in respect of the ‘lad’. 

Overall though, I have only good things to say about the Irish community, starting with my partner’s family who were super welcoming and supported us all the way. When we moved to Dublin, I quickly joined the Wanderers women’s rugby team who have been essential for creating that sense of ‘belonging’ here. At work as well, everybody knows I am gay and it’s not a big deal at all!

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