“I think there’s such a beauty about Dublin that’s not really apparent,” said 20 year-old Venus Patel, smiling widely in his bedroom, the walls draped in artwork and spiralling vines. “But I feel like once you get to know Dublin, I feel like every day I love the city more and more.
“Even though terrible things happen to me on the daily… There’s just a sort of warmth here that I’ve never really felt anywhere else.”
The LA native moved to Dublin in 2018 as an international student and studies Fine Art in TUD. He ended up choosing Dublin after meeting an Irish boy while working in Spain one summer, and developing feelings for him.
After visiting the boy a few times in Dublin, he developed feelings for the city too. Venus had an idyllic view of the city before he arrived and still does to this day, he says. “I think the experiences I’ve had have definitely made me question that view and kind of see Dublin for what it is… But I tend to focus more on the good things. So, I don’t go insane.”
These bad experiences include racism, xenophobia and homophobia. Half-Salvadorian and half-Indian, the first time Venus was ever called the n-slur was in Dublin. He had never dealt with that kind of hate before because “first off: I’m not black,” he said.
Openly queer and unapologetically himself, Venus wears colourful clothes and jewellery. He wears bright makeup, skirts and high-heeled shoes, like his signature pair of white, fluffy platform boots seen on his social media. A hybrid between snow boots and gogo boots, on Instagram one caption says “me n my boots against the world.”
He’s yelled at daily, by people enquiring about his gender, or throwing slurs at him. “Sometimes I don’t understand when Irish men yell at me… it’s just a bit scary when men come up to you and they’re like ‘oh, are you a bloke?’ And you just keep walking.”
One week, Venus was followed home. A man stopped next to him, asked for a cigarette, and then proceeded to enquire about Venus’ gender. He then asked for sex. Venus thinks this comes from a place of fetishising. “And I hate it.”
In his first year of living in Dublin, Venus Patel was sexually assaulted. He was too afraid to go to the Gardaí. “It just sucks. Even when stuff happens to me to this day, I know it’s not my fault, but in my head, I’m like ‘oh it’s because of the way I dress,’ or “‘if I didn’t look this way then stuff like this wouldn’t happen to me’ … I feel like I attract sort of this bad energy. But I’m working through that in therapy.”
Venus expresses anger at how “men have this authority in society” and how “they’re able to do stuff and not have any punishment for it” in his artwork. He also expresses himself on his social media, where others have reached out to thank him for encouraging them to dress how they would like.
“I’ve experienced a lot of hatred my entire life, by myself, by my family, by society. And I really like the place that I’ve come to. And I feel like every day I’m sort of pushing myself even further.”
“I feel like Ireland is definitely making progress in having a more educated youth,” Venus said. “I mean I do experience hatred from youth sometimes. I feel like there’s a big population of Ireland that’s very progressive and very liberal. And I feel like Ireland will eventually get to this very unique and accepting place. And I hope I can help with that.”
You can follow Venus Patel on TikTok here.
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