Gay in the 80s: A Conversation

From Paolo Berberan:

I met Winston on a night out. We bonded because my friend was from Berlin, and he had spent some time there. He was having a drink on his own, and I was immediately intrigued by the tone of his voice.
We then exchanged numbers and maintained a friendship, and I was fascinated by the experiences and stories he subsequently told me about being a gay man in the 1980’s.
Nowadays, Winston enjoys spending most of his time alone, and memories of his younger years are now stored in a box under his bed.
I believe the social political circumstances of the time he grew up in, with the lack of freedom and rights in LGBTQ community, a slight society crisis over his racial identity, and his religious background, have somehow influenced his life’s direction.
I was compelled to tell his story to a younger LGBTQ generation, and how his generation’s strength have influenced and paved the way for a younger one. I was also very interested on representing someone with history, someone out of normal media representation, and someone one might even cross on the street – so many faces we see everyday, so many stories to be told. Everyone is entitled to tell their own story, and this film is a glimpse of Winston’s.

Music by Elijah.

Barber Shop Breakdown

The formula for a good hair day starts with regular trips to your barber, mixed with the perfect product, and then blessed with a little #iwokeuplikethis. We can’t help you stay faithful to your barber or where and how you wake up, but we can give you the lowdown on what ourfavorite pomades, waxes, and texturizers are.

Wax

The wax category also includes putty, molding creme, paste, and clays. Waxes are usually a medium hold and great for minimal shine and a lot of texture. Both wavy and straight textures can benefit from a nickel size amount of product worked through dry hair. For an unkempt look, apply to wet hair for more hold and separation. Wax is best used on short to medium hair.

Hanz De Fuko, Claymation Bumble and Bumble, Sumotech Blind Barber 60 Proof Hair Wax Shu Uemura, Shape Paste

Traditional Pomades

Traditional pomades are generally high shine with a medium to high—but flexible—hold. Pomades are usually either oil or water-based. I recommend water-based. It’s healthier for your scalp and easier to wash out. Oil-based pomades may have better hold, but can also lead to breakouts if applied to the skin. Pomades are most famously used in creating pompadours, side-parts, and longer styles. Layrite Super Hold Pomade Cool Grease XX Oribe Original Pomade Fellow Barber Strong Pomade

Texturizer/Dry Shampoos

Washing your hair every day is not recommended. Your hair can dry out and your scalp can actually start to create excess oil. Aquick fix is adding dry shampoo or texture paste to you hair arsenal. Not only will it help you achieve a more bed-head texture, it will also help absorb excess oil while giving you a light to medium hold. This is especially great for wavy hair textures. RCo Badlands Dry Shampoo Paste Hanz De Fuko Quicksand

The 10 Most Popular Gaymojis….So Far

We’re a little biased, but Gaymoji is our preferred choice of sticker. Now that they’re plastering chats and messages on phones worldwide, let’s rank the ones getting used the most. Do you know Gaymoji? No really, do you?

10

Regular hearts are basic. Like Gap basic (which there’s also a Gaymoji of, btw).

9

You’d think this was higher, but the theory is that booty texts are the new booty call. Unless you thought this meant “butt dial”. Um, isn’t that what screen locks are for?

8

You’re hungry, you’re laughing, you’re trying to catch a snowflake….this is the total Swiss Army Knife of Gaymojis.

7

The official seal of approval. Know it, live it, say it, and may there never be a demand for a Gaymoji that says, “Naaa!”

6

There are some things gays just get better than other people.

5

Put down the razor and back away. Fur is back.

4

Yeah yeah…we all know what this means. Sometimes, one is more fun but you know someone is gonna look at this and report us to PETA.

3

Don’t just show him any kind of love. Show him this.

2

Spirit animal, mascot, fashion inspiration. You can say it’s a mythical creature, but this horned steed is real in our hearts. The rainbow mane is the cherry on top.

And the biggest Gaymoji is….

1

Thought it would be something dirty? Nope. Sometimes a nice kiss is all you want. And then a few more. And some more…

Have you tried Gaymoji yet? Why not? Download the free app for iOS here or for Android here.

LA Nights

As a foreigner in the sprawling city of concrete and palm trees, Samuel Douek has crafted a visual poem inspired by his exploration of the city’s vibrant queer scene. His journey into the shadows of the night is focused on three of LA’s most infamous establishments and events: The unpredictable and brash Mustache Mondays, gritty bear magnet Eagle, and the impossibly chic mega-party A Club Called Rhonda.

“Ultimately, LA Nights reflects my immediate isolation along a path of anonymous faces and my successive enlightenment, being enamored by the freedom, beauty, culture, and open arms of the city’s artistic underbelly where the divided populous- a megalopolis of clowns, queens, muscle hunks and big dreams – become united in their diversity.

Here we are together, forever, in the fleeting moment of this effervescent night. Because on your LA Night you can be whoever you want to be, from feigned shyness to outlandish performance. It doesn’t matter, because everybody will love you for it.”

Party Goals: International Edition

Put in your vacay request, dust off your passport, and stock up on vitamins. Lots of vitamins. There’s a big wide world of LGBTQ parties you need to see to believe, and the list below should be more than enough to help you rack up frequent flyer miles and hazy memories for all of 2017. How many are you down for?

Easter Berlin, Germany: April 12th – 18th 2017

Well established as one Europe’s biggest leather and fetish weeks with a range of parties and events across the city. Our tip – check out Woof!

www.easterberlin.de

Dragcon, Los Angeles, USA: April 29th & 30th 2017

With Rupaul mania approaching maximum world domination, this is the holy grail of all things Drag while mingling with the superstars of the show.

www.rupaulsdragcon.com

World Out Games, Miami, USA: May 26th – June 4th 2017

Held every 4 years, Miami hosts thousands of participants at more than 450 events covering sport, culture, and human rights. They aim to stimulate debate through emotional, competitive, and intellectual events. And maybe a dance party or two.

www.outgames.org

Korean Queer Culture Festival, Seoul, Korea: June 2017

With just 50 attendees in 2001, Seoul now hosts over 15,000, making it one of the largest LGBT events in Asia. In addition to the political angle, the event places heavy emphasis on art and culture to pack in even bigger audiences.

www.kqcf.org/xe/english

Queer Arts Festival, Vancouver, Canada: June 20th & 21st 2017

Pushing the boundaries of queer modern art, Vancouver’s QAF aims to curate challenging, thought-provoking work that pushes boundaries and initiates dialogue. Buckle up.

www.queerartsfestival.com

World Pride, Madrid, Spain: June 23rd – July 2nd 2017

Fact: The Spanish know how to party, and this summer they’re celebrating 40 years since the first pride parade in Spain. Madrid hosts with a action-packed schedule of jaw-dropping parties, open air concerts, sport events, and more.

www.madridorgullo.com

Brighton Pride Festival, UK: August 4th – 6th 2017

The UK’s largest gay pride festival has an impressive line-up this year including Pet Shop Boys (still going strong) and Years Years.

www.brighton-pride.org

Bear Week Sites, Spain: September 1st – 11th 2017

The picturesque coastal town of Sitges, just 30 minutes from Barcelona, turns into a gay mecca in the summer months with Bears Week rounding off the season.Insert bear hunting joke here.

www.bearssitgesclub.org

Homotopia, Liverpool, UK: November 2017

Now in its 14th year, Homotopia showcases an impressive queer art scene in the UK’s cultural melting pot that is Liverpool.

www.homotopia.net

And because it’s never too early to plan ahead….

Sydney Mardi Gras, Australia: March 3rd, 2018

An institution, Sydney’s vibrant, balls-out crazy celebration celebrates its 40th Anniversary next year. You can’t miss this. No, you just can’t.

www.mardigras.org.au

Special thanks to Oliver Broad from travel agency RB Collection for giving us the low-down.

10 Best Ways to Escape a Bad Date

Like it or not, most of us are going to endure a dud date during our Grindr escapades. So comedian Dom Top took some time out of his busy schedule of pestering men for pics and re-telling jokes stolen from Will & Grace to put together tenways to GTFO of there.

Disclaimer: Not Dom Top, not Grindr, nor anybody else endorses the use of these methods, or do they vouch for their legality or efficacy. Except that last one. You’ll see what we mean.

#1: The Romy (& Michele)

If you’ve ever seen the seminal piece of cinema that is Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (and you SHOULD have), you’ll remember thh2at Mira Sorvino’s Romy comes up with the perfect excuse to 86 a bad date. Upon learning that her gentleman caller is a suit salesman, Romy declares that she has sliced her foot open and her toes are now swimming in a pump’s worth of sangre. Then she hobbles away dragging her leg for authenticity, leaving Men’s Wearhouse far behind her. It’s hard to argue with a performance THAT committed.

#2: Start a Small Fire

Now let’s be clear, a SMALL fire. Like a napkin or a floral arrangement on the table. Easily started with a tealight candle and put out with a dishrag. You just need something disruptive enough to distract the dud while you bolt for the door. If you’re lacking anything flammable, a viable alternative is to discharge a fire extinguisher. It should provide a big enough cloud of foam to obscure your exit á la every cartoon villain ever.

#3: Start Stanning for Your Diva

This can go two ways. Either your not-so-great date will be bored stiff by your fanatical ramblings about Madonna’s “Bedtime Stories Tour” or Britney’s scrapped David LaChapelle video and peace-out of the date himself. OR he could geek out and start collectively stanning with you, in which case you may have just found your soulmate. Or at least someone to practice dance routines with. It’s a win-win!

#4: Sing. Right. At. Him.

This may not work in a karaoke bar. But if your first date is at a karaoke bar, you’ve got problems already. Hopefully, pushing your mug right up against his and warbling “The Rainbow Connection” is likely to cut a slow night delightfully short. Unless, of course, you are an undiscovered siren/chanteuse, in which case you might steal his heart. From what we understand, that seemed to work for Emma Stone in La La Land.


#5: Toilet Talk

Generally speaking, emerging from the bathroom and announcing the size, shape, and consistency of whatever you produced in there is considered a dating faux-pas. However in some cases it might bring you closer together. If that’s the case, good for you both! No kink-shaming here, everybody’s got their something. I guess.

#6: Get on Grindr

Not feeling the date? Log in to the world’s greatest gay social app and find yourself another, right there and then. #shamelessselfpromotion

#7: Text Them

Make a humiliating phone fuck-up work for you. We’ve all sent the wrong text to someone, from telling your best friend that you just waxed your ass to informing your parents that you hooked up in a club bathroom. So why not twist it to your advantage? Simply sending something along the lines of “Have you disposed of the body?” followed by “SORRY WRONG PERSON” should get you out of there pretty swiftly. Even if it does mean being hauled in for questioning after.

#8: Kill aRelative

FIGURATIVELY. A death in the family is a time-honored and almost irrefutable excuse for worming your way out of undesirable situations. Just remember who you killed the next time you bump into your dud at the mini-mart. ProTip: the best uses of this lie usually involve an already-deceased person. See, they did die just not… recently.

#9: Drink Everything (responsibly)

Sometimes the only solution is to order up two bottles of wine and just suck ‘em down. Then do some shots. Then drink the mouthwash offered to you by the bathroomattendant. Either your date will become infinitely more appealing post-Pinot binge or he’ll be so appalled at your hot-mess-sloppy-drunk shenanigans that he’ll retreat. Just don’t forget to order yourself an Uber home first.

#10: Be Honest

Okay, so, maybe this one isn’t quite as dramatic (and we know some of you just LIVE for the drama) but it’s probably the best option. If you don’t feel the spark, it’s likely that he doesn’t feel it either. Even if he does, better you don’t waste any more of his time, right? He’s looking for the right guy just like you are. Who knows? Maybe you’ll bond over that. Without the stress of searching for a romantic or sexual connection, you might just make a new friend. Still, even if you don’t at least you can have a drink, head home with your head held high and know that your conscience is clear. Tomorrow you can hop back on Grindr and find another date, right?

Turning Shame Into Pride

Why do we hold Pride parades?

I get this question a lot. Sometimes the question comes from people outside our communities, but more often, it’s from folks who are themselves lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Occasionally it’s even aggressive, betraying that the speaker believes the speedos and leather and drag dotting the crowds somehow constitute participation in our own oppression. What’s clear to me in these cases is that the person is asking from a place of shame. And it’s tough to know how to respond because that shame is the exact thing we’re marching against.

Most of us don’t grow up with parents who share our sexual orientation or gender identity. For many, we may not have had any visible role models at all. We don’t come up learning that the ways we love and fuck and form families are contemporary manifestations of histories and cultures that are themselves as old as humanity. And, as a result, too many of us never learn that we, as LGBTQ people, are just as worthy of love and belonging as everyone else.

For me, what makes shame easiest to understand is placing it next to another feeling—not pride in this case, but guilt. Guilt is what we feel when we’ve done something wrong and we assign that error to our actions. Shame, by contrast, is when we turn against ourselves. In that case, we say—and, on some level, believe—that not only were our actions wrong, but we are inherently wrong because of them.

The stakes here are shockingly high. Consider the work of Brené Brown, our country’s leading researcher on the subject. Brené has documented how high levels of shame are correlated with many of the things that destroy our lives, from addiction, to depression, eating disorders, self-harm, and aggression.

What makes this even more difficult is that we don’t just experience these feelings on an individual level. When we haven’t learned to love ourselves—and often even when we have spent years working towards that—we may be prone to feeling shame at the community level. The actions of others who share our sexuality, nationality, hometown, or last name may leave us feeling humiliated and self-hating. So seeing a drag queen or a motorcycle dyke out on the street during Pride Month reminds many of us that we’re not so sure we like being queer and that, deep inside, we’re not so sure we like ourselves at all.

My intention in writing this is not to shame those who are uncomfortable with pride. The truth is that almost all of us have felt something like that at some point in our lives and it isn’t an indication that we’re defective. My recommendation to everyone looking at these photos from the long history of our marches is actually to get more deeply in touch with the memories of that discomfort, whether we had it at a march or in a gay bar or any other LGBTQ space. Sitting with that feeling can be instructive and ultimately transform ourselves into our own best teachers.

When I feel shame, my heart beats faster and my brain starts buzzing. I start over-performing and seeking the praise of others to give me some sense of relief. But the bodily experience of shame is different for each of us and learning our unique manifestations is the first key step in building our ability to cope.

Brené Brown says one of her greatest goals is to start a national conversation about shame. For our part, many LGBTQ communities around the world have been having that conversation, marching in these parades for all these years. The pride we cultivate in these spaces may never fully take the place of our shame, but the more time we spend with the feeling, the dimmer it becomes.

Jack Harrison-Quintana is Director of Grindr For Equality for Grindr and was recently named one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business.

The 10 Gayest Pokémon

Tentacruel

Ever felt an unwanted hand trying to cup your butt as you wait for the barman to notice your kind smile, or trying to slip a digit down the back of your pants on the dancefloor? That’s ol’ Tentacruel, using his ooze ability to creep out everyone in the area with his total disregard for personal space and consent. Starting life as the clueless Tentacool, he evolves into the far-sleazier Tentacruel after everybody feels too awkward to tell him that his gropey behavior is not ok. The only way to deal with Tentacruel is a very public dressing down over his uninvited touching. Though a drink over the head can sometimes prove almost as effective.

Jigglypuff

We all know a Jigglypuff. They’re the star of their own show, and the rest of us are merely the dowdy viewers. In their mind, Jigglypuff is the best singer on the planet and will demonstrate this fact at any given moment – whether you want them to or not. Usually found lurking around cabaret bars, karaoke machines, and The Voice auditions, they take any opportunity to belt out numbers like “Seasons of Love” from Rent or Beyonce’s “Listen”. Sadly, although Jigglypuff is a cute little blue-eyed Bel Ami twinky thing, they are Kardashian-level overexposed. Their repeated attempts to hog the limelight now induce extreme boredom, meaning their crooning has the power to put most people to sleep. Or at least invoke total disinterest. Sorry, babe.

Machop

Remember your first day at the gym? You rolled up with your brand new gym bag, ES collection shorts, water bottle, and yoga mat and looked upon the vast range of man mountains pumping iron. And then you looked at yourself in the mirror. You were Machop. We have all been Machop.

Machoke

However, if you managed to steel yourself, stay disciplined, and WERQ hard at the gym, chances are you evolved into Machoke. Strong, lean, muscular, and a total show-off. Ah well, you earned it honey. If you didn’t tough it out at the gym, you probably know and hate a Machoke. Fit bastards.

Pikachu

Petite blonde pequeño Pikachu is queen of the temper tantrum. When their daddy (paternal and/or sugar) refuses to fork out the cash for that shiny new Poké Ball, you better batten down the hatches. Pika’s fit of pique is unlike any you’ve seen before. What once looked like an innocent ball of flip-flop-fuck-fun is now a REAL pocket monster. Friends, sales assistants, waiters, and even family members don’t stand a chance against the explosive scenes this bombshell can create. Best to keep them happy with a monthly allowance, daddy.

Clefairy

Clefairy came out a lot later than you. Once an unhappily-married blue-collar worker, he took the bold step to live his truth later in life. Sweet, friendly, and a little bit naïve, everybody has a soft spot for him. The fact that he has an awesome apartment with a fully stocked bar doesn’t hurt either. Known for his retreats to the mountains, Clefairy will even take you to Aspen for a skiing weekend. Just don’t mess him around on him. He’s got a good heart.

Jynx

Classic butch queen in drag for the first time. And she’s clearly had a couple of Appletinis to help her work up the courage…

Eevee/Flareon/Vaporeon/Jolteon

Here come the fashion queens. Cute-as-a-button pup Eevee has got big dreams of making it in the design world, so he heads to the big (Cerulean) city to start an unpaid internship at DKNY. Fast-forward four years and Eevee is still broke, still living in a tiny apartment and still interning. But boy, has he evolved… well, evolved his look. And don’t call him Eevee anymore, thanks. It’s Vaporeon.

Until the seapunk trend is over and then it’s Jolteon.

No wait, Pikachu’s doing the electric block colorlook. Okay, hmmm… he’s got it! He’s Flareon.

How appropriate. Look for him doing the guest list at an undergrad fashion show and adding “tastemaker” to his Insta bio any day now. Gurrrrrrl.

Brock

Yes, we know he’s a trainer and not a Pokemon. But he’s SO HOT. And he has a huge, rock hard creature in his Pokeball, Onix. So if you want to get precious, Onix is pretty much as gay as it gets. But our hearts belong to Brock. Thattan, those squinty little eyes, that voice… Brock our world. Oh, and this little treat….

That is one lucky tree…thing.

Jessie & James

Okay, so even though these two aren’t technically Pokemon either, they’re camp-as-hell bumbling Poke-villains. But do you wanna try telling usthat they aren’t the ultimate fag and hag pairing? They have matching outfits, they get their hair dyed together, they even have their own rhymes and slogans. Jessie probably had a crush on James through grade school and James probably told his mother Jessie was his girlfriend in college. But it all worked out for the best and now they’re roommates. They’ve even got a cat together, for Christ’s sake. Meowth! That’s right!

We Are All Queens

“We’re all born naked and the rest is drag.”

These are the iconic words of RuPaul, an entertainer whose ‘Drag Race’ franchise took the art of deconstructing gender to a global platform. The recently-premiered ninth season has already received praise for being the first to feature an openly trans woman – although previous seasons have featured trans contestants they have always ‘come out’ (often in dramatic, emotional scenes) midway through their season, meaning that Peppermint’s immediate openness concerning her gender identity makes her a welcome first for the franchise. There are, however, no cisgender female queens; a glaring omission which falsely insinuates that drag is for men only.

By contrast, drag is a visual parody of the false assumption that gender is as simple as ‘male’ and ‘female’. It is proof that any of us – with the right amount of hair, make-up, costume, prosthetics and performance – can create exaggerated, hyper-real personas which highlight the ways in which we all ‘perform’ our gender identity on the daily. It’s a practice open to anyone, but one which has been historically dominated by men.

Ironically, the origins of drag in theatre can be traced back to a desire to prevent women from being on stage – male performers in Shakespearean times would drag up to play female roles, but other cultures were also experimenting with gendered roles in theatre; geisha (initially a male-only profession) and kabuki actors would often play their opposites, leading to a confused yet enraptured audience.

Drag has continuously evolved, but its modern iteration is transforming quicker and more drastically than ever before – as our knowledge of queer identities progresses, so do the drag artists taking centre-stage. Victoria Sin is just one of the many London-based trailblazers paving the way; platinum wigs, oversized breastplates and candy-coloured feathers are all becoming aesthetic signatures of a unique character quickly attracting critical acclaim.

Photo credit:@sinforvictory

Sin’s presence in queer spaces as a drag artist is, however, sometimes questioned, an issue which they have discussed openly on their various social media platforms. When asked about their experiences as a female-bodied POC in a largely male-dominated world, Sin describes a “toxic problem with marginalization”. “Just because you have been the victim of homophobic abuse, doesn’t mean that you can’t stop and think about how what you say or do might be racist, misogynist, transphobic, ableist or classist. There needs to be more listening and more space made for people who are underrepresented within our community.”

Georgie Bee – the reigning Miss Sink The Pink – echoes these sentiments by explaining that she is often groped by men in queer clubs and, on rare occasions, told to her face that her drag isn’t legitimate. She also points to general misogyny, recounting a recent night out on which she heard a man turn to her friend and say “Why are these girls here? They’re disgusting.” Bee spoke to security and he was swiftly kicked out. “I think people are generally afraid of women who are loud, proud and in-your-face – on their terms, not yours”, she says. “The gut reaction of a lot of people is to say ‘you haven’t got a cock, you can’t do it’. I’m here to say that, actually, I can do it.”

Photo credit:@neomagpie

These attitudes are not only harmful, they reinforce ideals which contribute to discrimination. Queer spaces have long been male-dominated, whereas culture more generally has been dominated by masculinity; a domination which means that these intended ‘safe spaces’ can often be hubs of abuse for anyone falling outside the accepted spectrum of masculinity. Many venues reinforce these notions by opening their doors only to men – it’s a problem which has existed for decades and, unfortunately, one which doesn’t seem to be showing any sign of disappearing.

There are, obviously, exceptions to the rule. Some nights are all rooted in an ethos of diversity and inclusivity, but things need to change on a wider level – and fast. Reassuringly, there are enough brilliant drag queens that just happen to be female making their voices heard and using their platforms to spread messages of positivity.

The frequent description of these artists as ‘faux’ queens or ‘bio’ queens, however, unintentionally reinforces the narrative that they are somehow less legitimate than their male counterparts.

Lacey Lou, a England-based queen, is, familiar with this misguided argument. She is, however, quick to highlight how quickly attitudes have already progressed since she first started. “I felt marginalized more at the beginning – Birmingham didn’t have any females with residencies or more public figures to look up to, so people couldn’t grasp it. People would disregard me really, relying on the idea that I wasn’t ‘a real drag queen’. There’s a few of us in Birmingham, so it’s more the norm now – it’s amazing to see!”

Photo Credit:@laceymcfadyen

Despite being constantly asked to justify her legitimacy, she continues to create incredible visual spectacles week after week. Like Victoria Sin, Georgie Bee and handfuls of otherbrilliant female-bodied, Lou is fighting for her space in a male-dominated environment and, crucially, using her platform “to spread love and education – education over ignorance!”

Lovers: São Paulo

Anderson Machado, 25 and Thássio Dias, 21      

Anderson and Thássio: This is a complex issue because it comprises many areas: social, professional, family, etc.

But I think it can be summed up in resistance. Being a gay couple in São Paulo, especially gay and black, it’s like killing a lion a day, or homophobia (when we hold hands on the street we hear that our love is wrong and that it’s an abomination) or racial discrimination (we are often stalked in shops and judged as thieves).

But together we use all of this to be stronger and face a homophobic society. To empower ourselves and resist more and more. Everything we face only gives us more strength to continue being who we are and growing stronger and happier.

Despite the regrets, I believe that compared to other cities, São Paulo is much more gay friendly and I feel freer and safer to express my sexuality in the streets, much more than in cities of the interior. In addition, the city is very plural, presenting a huge range of parties, events, and LGBT- themed or targeted interventions.

Náthalie Louise, 24 and Dandara Fonseca, 22

Náthalie: Dandara and I live on the outskirts of São Paulo. We are practically neighbors. It’s weird to me because the other girls I used to relate to lived far away, so we always found ourselves at the center. Not that there is no lesbophobia in the center, but in the periphery the prejudice is much bigger. In addition, we are a couple of blacks, and because of this, hyper-sexualized. Several times, when we were together, men harassed us in an extremely rude way.

What happens a lot is also that guys think Dandara is ugly – she’s more ‘butch’ and they must think it’s somehow her fault for being with a woman. It’s like they’re saying to me “What are you doing with this dyke?”. On the other side, many people find us a very beautiful couple (I do not speak of aesthetic beauty, but of harmony) and we find strength in each other to face these things.

Iago Alves, 19 and Lucas Vinicius, 19

Iago: Having a gay relationship is not easy in any city. It always has the homophobia issue that weighs heavily everywhere. But I believe living in São Paulo is a privilege since we have several environments created by the LGBT audience for the LGBT audience. So in my view, having an LGBT relationship in São Paulo is better than in other cities in the country, but still we have to be careful because when you are LGBT and maintain a homosexual relationship nowhere is a safe place.

Lucas: It means to have our lives risked because of the frightening numbers of deaths of the LGBT population. Being gay in São Paulo is dangerous and creates daily conflicts against the opinions of others. We need to be strong, to know that we can not stop taking care of ourselves among so many other couples in public. People react differently depending on how open-minded they are.

Isaac Lohan, 20 and Brendon Xavier, 19

Isaac and Brendon: The difficulty of being homosexual will be everywhere, not just in São Paulo. And they will always be the same problems: lack of respect and understanding. People can’t understand homosexuality because most of them have a great freedom of expression when it comes to dressing and acting (which should not be a problem). But as people grew up with a totally macho, hypocritical and religious thought, hatred speaks louder.

We both grew up in Sao Paulo, we are already accustomed to looks, swearing, and humiliation, even in places we should feel safe, like a police station, hospital, or at work.

We are lucky that São Paulo is huge and there are a lot of faggots and dykes, and many friends to spend time with. You can’t walk alone and you have to prepare for the screams that you will hear just by being kissing your boyfriend. Funny, because it is a city that everyone considers as “evolved”. But we’re fine, because in our corner it’s just joy.

Raphaël Rodrigues, 26 and Kevin David, 23

Raphäel and Kevin: Having a gay relationship in São Paulo is complicated because of the external and internal interferences that we must digest, absorb, and then transform into love. On the other hand, this brings us to the realization that if we live in our own bubble and do not share our differences, we will not get out of where we are and we will go nowhere. We do not believe in deconstruction if you are within a comfort zone. Deconstruction is living with the universe of the other.

Sofia Franco, 27 and Pétala Lopes 26

Sofia: I have lived in three cities in Brazil and I believe that São Paulo is the best yet for my sexuality. Probably because it is the largest of the three cities. I believe that by having a greater diversity of people and more access to art and culture, we have less prejudice here. In Sao Paulo there are a lot more people on the streets, so you know more lesbians and gays out of the closet. It creates security for you to be who you are without fear. I have already suffered homophobia, but it bothers me much less here in São Paulo than when I lived in Florianópolis and Goiânia.

Pétala: As I was born and raised in São Paulo, I usually say that the city followed all the stages of my discovery as a lesbian. During my childhood I suffered a lot of lesbophobia in the school and neighborhood where I lived – in a periphery that is in the south of the city – but as I grew up and explored other places, I found myself and strengthened myself. I feel that in about five years to now, despite the growth of attacks, people are more open, which makes you feel safer on the street, especially in the central regions. I never suffered direct violence while walking with a girlfriend, but what I feel is the fear of experiencing it. Sometimes I avoid certain places at certain times. Sao Paulo is a very dubious city in regards to sexual tolerance, and I believe this is due to the immense mixture of cultures that we have here compared to other cities in Brazil. We can find a crazy neo-Nazi or a pastor who says he wants to save you from homosexuality on the same corner. But we also have wonderful projects to support LGBTs who are expelled from home, we see people of the same gender kissing on the subways, and we have drags shows every weekend. There is still much to do, but it is still a privilege to live/love here.

Gabriel Carneiro, 21 and Vitor Xavier, 20

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Gabriel: Having a gay relationship in São Paulo means fighting the world every day. Then imagine having a relationship being black, gay and living in the periphery, in a city where it is still necessary to reaffirm your space at all times and to be respected. On the other hand, you can connect with numerous afroconscious couples on the streets and at parties dedicated to black culture, and then you understand that the fight does not stop. The black skin resists in all the spaces and in all the issues that can be imagined. So for me, that’s it. Having a black and gay relationship in São Paulo isn’t just about survival, but resisting as a “bixa preta”!

Vitor: In my case, another question comes to mind. What is it to be a “bixa preta” (gay and black) in São Paulo? There are not just battles with the outside world, but also a great fight within to keep our mental health stable. We learn to survive and meet people who strengthen who we are. Here, we can still find people who are in this same group. Sharing a relationship with someone who has an experience very similar to mine not only creates a bond of understanding of who we are to the world, but also an intense and unique exchange of knowledge, learning,affection, love, and difficulties. People survive together. Sao Paulo offers opportunities that nowhere else would have, but it’s still a racist and homophobic city.

Natália Wakasab, 19 and Ana, 24

 

Natália: Being gay and living in São Paulo will probably be better than anywhere else in Brazil. I grew up in the countryside and I know that being gay in these places is seen as a joke. In São Paulo, I feel more receptive, but I do not feel totally comfortable in showing affection with my girlfriend in public places. I realize that people stare and look at us strangely, and this causes discomfort and insecurity.

Despite this, I never hid my homosexual relationship, and I was never attacked. Here is a place that I consider good, but I know it still needs improvement. There are intolerant people everywhere. Unfortunately, this is rooted in society and we need to seek change.