Rafael, in his own words: “I would start with the very idea of being “something”. I seldom perceive me, myself, as being part of a static and defined category that is imposed on me a priori, regardless what I have to say about that. There are social expectations preceding the self, in this case the sexual self, against which I must struggle if I want to preserve my “voice” and therefore my self-respect. In what concerns my agency as human being, these expectations, in the end, might virtually not belong to me, thus contaminating the multiple relations that the Other establishes with me.
That being said, I consider that being gay means that I have an erotic predisposition, either real or imagined, towards the male of my species, regarding its sexual and gender realms.
I would intertwine my challenges and successes with my coming out experience. My biggest challenge was the fulfilling of a sentence built on what was an utterly complicated standpoint: “I am something that is not expected from others”. My process of coming out as a person who has a non normative sexual orientation was firstly an individual struggle. Usually we tend to think that coming out is a process of revealing, which with no doubt is a political understanding of coming out; but one does not come out, actually comes in. My closet was a hidden and nameless face which I had to describe with words untaught. Thus the symbolic act of naming was at the same time my biggest challenge and success. In the end, we are always our worst enemies. Other than that, I was very fortunate to have a lot of disinterested love around me, which indeed played a great part in all this process.
A community is born out of a survival principle. And a gay community is born out of a marginalization phenomenon that originates several spaces of belonging for and/or from those who are put aside, from a cruising spot to an institutionalized NGO. In Lisbon, today, the gay community, and the sense of community, is rather refracted due to the fact that we are no longer facing a survival situation, without taking into consideration the multiple power relations and structures that still affect our citizenship, nationally, such as the adoption rights or the pathologization of transsexual/gender citizens. There are different social organizations with several aims that are vital to the LGBTQ+ visibility and that work fiercely for a voice and a better future for everyone. Lisbon also has an intense nightlife, in which the gay community is diverging from the “gay nightlife” paradigm to a more diversified notion of it. Some venues still preserve a very stereotyped idea of what a gay “place” is, starting from the very idea of “a gay place”. Although I must say that these places have an incomparable aura of safeness for those who might need a place to be. At least what was, and in a way is, Lisbon’s gay neighborhood lost the ghetto frame that usually materializes geographically a gay community.
I think, therefore I deconstruct.
P.S.: Fall in love with yourself if you want to fall in love with other self(ves).”