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.”
Tiago, in his own words:“Se me perguntassem “o que ser brasileiro significa para você” ou “o que ter irmãos significa para você”, eu responderia que essas são condições essenciais da minha vida. Claro que são classificações e como qualquer classificação são carregadas de significados e relações de poder, mas o fato de eu ser gay é também uma condição da minha vida. Certamente, como membro de um grupo social marginal, eu estou sujeito a situações de preconceito e violência, tanto física quanto verbal, mas eu não consigo pensar numa resposta mais simples e, ao mesmo tempo, mais certa para essa pergunta que não seja “significa ser eu mesmo”. Escrevendo essa resposta fiquei pensando que a pergunta ideal seria ao contrário: “o que ser você significa para ser gay?”. Assim a condição de sujeito viria antes da sexualidade, mas acho que esse é um caminho longo de desconstrução de categorias que acabam criando padrões e gerando preconceito com tudo o que está fora do padrão.
Eu não consigo ver sucessos associados diretamente ao fato de eu ser gay. Já desafios, eu acho que o maior deles foi o meu próprio reconhecimento enquanto sujeito, o que tem a ver com um movimento de enfrentamento em relação a vários valores sociais, familiares e religiosos.
Eu não costumo frequentar lugares especificamente gays no Rio de Janeiro. Nunca gostei muito de guetos e prefiro os espaços menos direcionados a um grupo particular, onde circulam todos os tipos de pessoa. Mas eu acho o Rio de Janeiro, pelo menos as partes da cidade por onde circulo, amistoso em relação aos gays. Talvez isso tenha a ver com a vida na cidade grande. Eu venho de uma cidade bem menor que o Rio, onde raramente você é anônimo nos lugares que frequenta, o que acaba favorecendo a criação de guetos. De forma bem geral, eu acho que os gays circulam bastante entre os diferentes grupos aqui no Rio, e isso parece gerar uma melhor aceitação por parte da sociedade.
Eu nunca me considerei muito dentro do armário, eu sempre soube que era gay. Ainda criança, mesmo que não tivesse consciência da sexualidade, eu sabia que não correspondia a muitas das posturas e gostos que se esperam de uma criança do sexo masculino. A partir de uma certa idade, fui me dando conta de que essas diferenças passavam pela sexualidade, uma sexualidade que eu reconhecia como minha e que eu nunca quis contrariar. De qualquer modo, eu não cresci despreocupado dessa definição, sentia que precisava me afirmar enquanto gay, o que eu acho um problema, já que essa não é uma preocupação explícita de um adolescente heterossexual que corresponde ao padrão socialmente aceitável. A minha saída oficial do armário foi aos 17 anos. Até então, por mais que eu soubesse que era gay, nunca tinha me relacionado com homens. Eu esperei que isso acontecesse para que eu pudesse me abrir para as pessoas. E com exceção de alguns amigos mais próximos, as primeiras pessoas a quem eu contei foram meus pais. Eu sentia profunda necessidade de mostrar a eles quem de fato e eu era, e isso foi fundamental para minha formação enquanto sujeito. De início, alguns conflitos surgiram, mas eu sempre mantive uma postura que chamo de “enfrentamento”. Nunca recuei e nem abri mão da minha sexualidade por conta da minha família. Hoje, eu acredito que essa postura influenciou na construção de uma relação de muito respeito entre nós, e cada vez mais eu acho que esse respeito está para além do fato de eu ser gay.
Como eu falei na primeira pergunta, eu acho que o melhor conselho seria “não se preocupe em se definir dentro de uma categoria, apenas viva de acordo com suas ideias, emoções e valores”. Mas eu acho que essa situação ainda é bastante utópica, então eu diria “não deixe de se afirmar da maneira como você é, respeitando a si mesmo dentro da sua diferença”.
“If someone asks me “what being Brazilian means to you” or “what having brothers means to you”, I’ll reply that those are essential conditions of my life. Of course they’re classifications full of meanings and relations of power, but the fact that I’m gay is also a condition of my life. Certainly, as any member of a marginal social group, I’m susceptible to situations of prejudice and physically and verbally violence, but I can’t think in a simple and at the same time right answer to this question than “means to be myself”. Writing this response I thought the ideal question would be: “what being you means to be gay?”. Thus the condition of the subject would come before sexuality, but I think it’s a long way of deconstruction of categories that create patterns and cause prejudice to everything defined nonstandard.
I can’t see successes directly associated with the fact I’m gay. One big challenge though it was my own recognition as a subject, which has to do with face up various social, family and religious values.
I don’t usually attend specifically gay places in Rio de Janeiro. I don’t really like ghettos instead I prefer spaces much less aimed to a particular group, where you can find every sort of people. But I think Rio, at least the places I’ve been, is friendly toward the gay public; maybe it has to do with life in a big city. I came from a smaller town where you’re rarely anonymous in places you go out, which favors the creation of ghettos. In Rio I think gay people circulate well among different groups and it seems to generate greater acceptance by society.
I never considered myself in the closet because I always knew I was gay. As a little child, even if I hadn’t be aware of sexuality, I knew that I didn’t correspond to many of the attitudes and tastes expected of a male child. As the years gone by, I realized that those differences were about the sexuality, which soon I recognized as mine without fighting against it. However I wasn’t that far of this definition, I needed to affirm myself, which was a problem because normally it wasn’t a preoccupation of a heterosexual guy, which socially fits in the acceptable patterns. I officially came out when I was 17. By then even if I knew I was gay, I’ve never had experienced a homosexual relationship. I’ve waited till then to let others to know it, and besides some close friends my parents were the first. I needed so much to let them kwon who I was and this was fundamental to my formation as a subject. At first there were some conflicts, but I’ve always been in a certain position that I call “enfrentamento” (In literally translation: to confront). I’ve never turned myself down and never gave up my sexuality for my family. Nowadays I believe this “enfrentamento” position have influenced me in the construction of a very respectful relationship between us, and day after day I think this respect is far beyond the fact I’m gay.
As I said in the first question, I think the best advice would be “don’t worry to define yourself within a category, just live according your ideas, emotions and values”. But I think this situation is still quite utopic, instead I would say, “Affirm and respect yourself the way you are within your difference”.