Octávio, in his own words: “Being gay means allowing myself to be who I am; it means not to worry about following some patterns or standards that are ruled and dictated by a homophobic society. Homosexuality is just one of so many characteristics that I have, just a part of me. Honestly, I’m more disturbed by my tendency to get a bit sweaty than being gay, talk about sweating the small stuff!
When I was thirteen, I discovered that I might be gay. At first I became really worried about that and tried to deny the possibility. At that time, I was living abroad and had no friends. So I decided to keep myself quiet and save this secret with me. When I came back to Brazil, I was enrolled in a military high school. By then I already knew that I was gay, but to blend – to be accepted and to preserve my “identity” – I started following and adopting straight customs. In this struggling environment, I joined my school’s glee club. It represented for me a place where I could strip off that behavior designed to fit in, and started being myself. There I met a girl who became my best friend. For the first time, with her, I opened myself and shared my secret about my sexuality. Her reception was the best I could expect, and I started feeling lighter from that day on. A few months later, I decided to talk about things with my parents. I was expecting a violent reception, perhaps even being kicked out of my home. To my surprise, I was accepted and embraced. At the beginning, they sent me to a neurologist, because they believed that I was mentally ill and that homosexuality was a disease. For one year, I had psychological counseling. Over time we discovered together that I’ve always been gay and that homosexuality is not a disease and nothing has changed in my behavior since I came out. Actually, I’ve became happier and more buoyant. Nowadays, my parents treat me with the same respect that they treat my two sisters that are straight. In our family we can speak openly about any subject now.
I was a very sensitive and creative kid, but during my oppressive and repressive adolescence, I left my creative side behind. After I came out, I started not to care anymore about the opinions of others about my choices. Like, I didn’t care if they thought choosing an artistic career could look like a ‘gay’ thing. So I started to chase my dreams. For two years, I studied Architecture and Urbanism at university, but I found my true calling and personal fulfillment in the visual and fine arts. I’ve discovered myself as a painter, and studied Art History during an exchange year at the University of Florence in Italy. I continually expose my art all over the world (and online using my website, www.octaviorold.com). In the beginning, I was afraid that my sexuality could impact on my audience; perhaps people would decide not to go to my exhibitions just because I’m gay. But I have found that art touches people, and our deepest essence as human beings doesn’t have prejudice.
Despite being comfortable with my sexuality, I’m generally not into dance clubs. I know that there is a really good gay environment in Brasilia and it has a lot of good options for those that want to have some fun. I think that Brasilia is a gay-friendly city, and I’ve never suffered explicit homophobic aggression in the form of verbal or physical abuse.
If I could give Tavinho (‘Little Tavio’) advice, I would tell him to try to be more confident and not to worry so much about following standards. I would tell him to live fully and let the universe be in charge of the rest.”