Flavio, Photographer, São Paulo

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong

Flavio, in his own words: “Wow… tough one this first question…I guess that being gay means being normal, just like being straight. Of course that being gay in today’s world means that you are very likely to face a few challenges that, in theory, straight people wouldn’t face. But I truly don’t feel different just because I’m a man who likes men. I guess I used to feel different when I was younger, but, to be honest, looking back now, I actually believe that this feeling doesn’t necessarily have to do with being gay – I’m just a bit like a fish out of water in the way I behave, think, etc. Yes, being gay might have played a part in this as it meant feeling awkward when I was a kid/teenager but, truth be told, if it wasn’t for the bullying, the awkwardness probably would not have any sort of link with my sexual orientation.

On one hand, yes, being gay means that you are a part of a smaller group in today’s society and therefore it’d be naive to believe that people would treat you like they treat everyone else. Humans tend to respond to everything that is “different” in a very peculiar way (aggressive and negative at most times, unfortunately). But, on the other hand, I couldn’t think of a better time to “be gay” (if that makes sense). We’re not coming out as a group, we are out already. And we have a lot of respect from a lot of people, exactly because they recognize what a battle we had to go through to stand where we are. If we still have a lot to “conquer” in terms of respect, understanding and civil rights? Hell yeah. I speak as a Brazilian gay who comes from a very open minded family. But I know it’s a completely different story in other places, even in my country. But then I’m just being as positive as I can: I’m looking to the glass and I’m thinking it is half full, and not half empty. It will take ages for society to make it a full glass and for everyone to truly accept that not every man desires a woman, but I remember when my generation (at least in Brasil) came out when we were teenagers and what a nightmare that was generally. I have friends that really went through a living hell in their parents’ houses. And I’m not saying that nowadays is an easy thing to do, but we progressed so, so much. 10-15 years ago it was a completely different story.

In terms of challenges, I’m happy to say that the only big “problem” I had for being gay was the fact that I was quite bullied at school. And what an irony: I didn’t even know that I was gay. Kids can be horrible… But a lot of children go through bullying and of course it’s not always because they’re gay. So maybe I would have suffered from this situation anyway, even If I wasn’t a homossexual. I like to believe that I did quite well for someone who really had a disgusting experience at school for such a long period of time (I remember being called nasty things even after high school). I tend to be a bit aggressive, which is a negative aspect of my personality, but it’s how I managed to “survive” and it must be said that this fierceness has helped me so much in so many fields of my life. So no, I wouldn’t change any of the things I went through as a little boy. The cliche is true: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? I know people that are still dealing with these demons from their childhoods, but I think I already overcame this in a healthy way: I don’t hate people, children, men, society, etc etc. I am very aware of the cruelty that exists in the world, but this perception has only made me more sensitive to the ones that are outcasts in society. I’d say that’s my real success in terms of being gay: the awareness and sensibility towards the others

The gay community in São Paulo is quite diverse at the moment. I think there’s a little treat for everyone… Of course there’s the typical “gay scene” that kinda looks like “Queer as Folk”, but then there’s the hipster scenario, the fancy gays, etc etc. We do have the biggest Gay Parade in the world, but I don’t think most of us are what you would expect from a militant, you know? The parade is just one big crazy day for everyone really… Our community is very Grindr/Tinder-driven at the moment, but very hypocritical when it comes to being open about promiscuous sex. Maybe it is a brazilian thing… we have naked people in tv adverts, soap operas, etc, but we’re still a very conservative country somehow. I lived in London for 3 years and I remember being surprised with the way gay man would live their sexual lives. Even in the clubbing scene: it is ok for a man to go to a kinky club in Europe. Here in Brasil it’s something you probably wouldn’t do or wouldn’t share, even with some of your closest friends. It’s seems silly to me…

Coming out wasn’t a big thing for me. I mean: it did take me ages to do so. I was 19 when I first told a dear friend of mine, who was out already. But once I did it, I just felt free (I guess that’s what most gay man experience, right?) and ended up telling everyone one, including my family and they were quite supportive I’d say. I had never kissed anyone before that (not even a girl), so I guess the biggest problem I had wasn’t being gay, but being a complete weirdo in that sense. Obviously coming out opened doors and possibilities and it didn’t take a lot of time for me to eventually snog someone. Yes, it was a man I think that if I had not gone through bullying at school, coming out could have happened earlier… but who knows??? Maybe the fact that kids used to call me “gay” helped me realise that they were right after all… those bitches… lol…

If I could give an advice to myself before I came out I’d say: you know you are an amazing person behind this big fear of yours, so be brave and show the world and yourself how strong you can be, otherwise you’ll never truly be “complete”. It doesn’t have to do with being gay and hooking up with other man, though that’s a big part of it and quite pleasurable… It has to do with being yourself entirely and letting go of the worst fear of them all: the fear of being happy ps. let us not forget that that’s what the word “gay” means.”

2 comments

  1. Jem

    Wow! You write so well, I really thought you must be a writer rather than a photographer. Thanks for sharing. I loved your story and your pictures. Thanks, Kevin, for making stories like Flavio’s available to us all. And thank you again, Flavio, for sharing so well. I am so encouraged by you.

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