19:09 . I had an argument with my family the other day: when I found out they would vote for him. What I told them was: – Have you forgotten everything that happened !?
I take this matter personally because I have lived these difficulties myself. I had issues with my parents in the past – regarding my sexuality. So, when someone running for office in my country, says they would ‘rather have a son go to rehab than being gay’, that just reminds me of hurtful comments. Everyone in the country knows about these words, you can find these videos online. So the information is there – yet people pick and choose from whatever fits them best. This is what I find appalling. For me, anyone who’d vote for this man* is complicit. You don’t need to agree with everything but once you chose this person you become complicit of everything they believe in. And he does have a strong rhetoric against us gay men and other members of the LGBTI community.
The mentalities in Brazil are still adapting, and when it comes to my family, my parents especially – they needed time to adapt, I suppose. Whatever my family knew was based on old traditions, they said it was written in the Bible. It’s not specifically written but I’m pretty sure it says it somewhere. No? You don’t think so? Maybe not. Maybe it is their interpretation of the Bible. I don’t know. At least it was what they thought, so they had a hard time accepting me. But I was having a hard time. I mean, especially when you’re a teenager, to have to face judgement from your family regarding your identity – knowing that you are yourself questioning your identity. That hurts.
I knew I would never be satisfied with what was going on around me. I saw a lot of injustice and I always questioned whether people were acting in a righteous way or not. The crazy thing is that when my parents started to accept me, with time, it pushed me into believing I could do something about injustice. It motivated me.
I was lucky enough that eventually, after so much turmoil, I found some kind of peace and love for people around me – especially with the people I met here in Europe. I felt in a privileged position so that I could do something for people and now I talk with passion about this. But I also talk with humility because I know, that I do not know everything.
This personally affected me, you know. Being gay – being an LGBTI – it affected my life. People take personally whatever they feel is important for them. I guess people who are voting for this man are voting for what they think is important, dismissing what is important to others.
My family? Now it seems to me that they never understood the bigger issue, that they made an exception for me. They accepted me for being gay, but only because it was ‘me’. Whatever they think the Bible told them will always be stronger than their sense of empathy for others.
This is when the country became divisive : when people became more individualistic and started dismissing the things that they don’t believe in. One thing is me talking about my family and their initial rejection – but it becomes scary when you put this issue in the perspective of a whole country – heading towards losing empathy for a portion of its own people.
Joao works for the ILGA Europe (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association) in Brussels, Belgium.
(*He is referring to the current Brazilian candidate for presidency: Jair Bolsonaro, a controversial far-right politician.)