BRAZIL: How it feels to be LGBT in a country about to elect a LGBTphobic president.
Since you don’t live in Brazil, maybe you don’t know that we are at high risk of electing a president who praises the torture occurred during a military dictatorship in the past, who despises women’s rights, is racist and think LGBTs should not exist. Almost half of Brazilians voted for him last Sunday. We still have a runoff, but the feeling of despair is affecting all my friends that are not inside a dominant gender norm.
This week a woman was grabbed on the street in a crowded neighbourhood in one of the most important Brazilian cities, because she had a sticker on her bag saying “Not Him”, a campaign from several sectors of the society against this Presidential candidate. Three men held her arms and cut her skin with a knife drawing a nazi sign in her abdomen. She will probably have a scar for the rest of her life.
The situation was already tough when we realised he was growing in the election polls and his victory would be possible. When the election results started to show up in the Sunday and, at a certain point, the votes reached 49% in his favour, my heart started to beat hard and I was dizzy. Later I knew many friends also had felt the same. The feeling of impotence mixed with the fear of being killed at any moment. In the last days, there are news on social networks and newspapers about LGBT people being harassed in public just for walking on the streets. Brazil is one of the countries that most kill LGBTs in the world, but people were not yet feeling free to give you a slap on the face and say they are going to “kill faggots” in the urban centres. All complaints are ignored: most police officers support that behaviour.
A horde of men got into the crowded Sao Paulo’s metro, the country’s largest city, singing “Bolsonaro is going to kill all faggots”. Three close friends heard men shouting homophobic insults from inside their cars on their way to the supermarket, gym and college. None of my gay friends can sleep well without being afraid of the future. I’ve stopped going out alone at night by not knowing if I will come back alive. A few months ago a Rio de Janeiro’s city councillor and human rights activist was killed by gun shots and no one knows or wants to say who made it. The presidential candidate said he won’t manifest because his opinion would be too much controversial. If a city councillor can be killed in one of the most important cities and there are people capable of relativizing it, what it could be done with people like us?
We are feeling fragile, not knowing what to do next, besides resisting. Not everybody is able to do it, resorting to medications or isolation. Knowing one my closest relatives had voted for Bolsonaro made me feel broken and I’m not sure I can resume a normal relationship with him. Every time we try to explain and show some facts on what happens, we are accused of sharing fake news, by people that are not used to consume any kind of information.
In the last years, I have devoted myself to teaching young journalists, workers and entrepreneurs about the need to guarantee the rights of the LGBT population. I always speak about how hard it is to be LGBT in countries where a death penalty is what different people receive from the State. Today, I can’t say anymore that we won’t be like that sometime soon.
Translation: Thiago Pereira