Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been the faggot. I was the faggot of the school bus, I was the faggot of the church, I was the faggot of the work place. Everywhere I went, people always questioned my sexuality even before I knew what sexuality even meant. I grew up thinking that being gay was one of the worst things anyone could possibly be. It was like being a terrorist, a communist, or even worse, a feminist. It had such a negative connotation that even though I somewhat knew that I found boys attractive, I would tell myself repeatedly that I was without a doubt 100% straight. I was a normal straight guy that had this very straight habit of starting at other boys for an awkwardly large amount of time.
That’s how I was determined to spend the rest of my life—being a guy’s stalker. It seemed like the perfect plan, until November 2013 came along. I was fifteen at the time and I met a boy. I met a boy and just staring at him wasn’t working anymore. I wanted to talk to him, hug him, and (in a very straight way) kiss him. I eventually found out he was dating a girl from my English class. That of course left me heartbroken until two months later, when I found out he had broken up with his girlfriend and posted a huge text on Facebook coming out as a gay boy. I couldn’t contain my excitement. He was the first openly gay boy I had ever known of, and that was my chance to finally talk to him—so I did. I messaged him. After that first message we then started talking and we talked about everything. We talked about him, we talked about me, and we talked about us.
For about eight months we talked, and then I decided it was about time to finally tell someone I was not as straight as I’ve been bragging about. Since it was really hard for me to even pronounce the word gay, I told my younger sister I was bi. I didn’t know it then, but that moment was the beginning of a nightmare. My sister threatened me, telling me to immediately tell my mom otherwise she would do it herself. She looked at me in the eyes and said, “After dad left, I thought we were finally gonna have a perfect family again. Thanks for ruining that.” I never forgot what she said, and I remember going down the stairs with my hands shaking. I wasn’t ready to tell my mom—I knew she wasn’t ready to hear it, and I didn’t know how to start or what to actually say.
I walked into the kitchen, and I found my mom facing the stove preparing the family dinner. I told her I had something important to tell her, and that I had to tell her at that moment. I was terrified. I could feel every heartbeat as if my heart was about to jump out of my chest. I don’t remember how much time it took me to finally say the words, but I remember being able to slowly say, “I am not attracted to girls.” My mom’s immediate reaction together with the next four years of my life can only be described as driven by pure despair. I’ve heard my mom say things like “You think I’m gonna let you screw around, cause that’s what these people do, they’re all nasty,” “There’s nothing that can’t be achieved through Christ. If you tried hard enough, God would make you straight,” “Being cheated on by your father was completely easy compared to what you’re making me go through right now,” and finally “If I were a gay man, I would want to date a man, not a sissy dressed up as a girl.” And I’ve also seen my mom do things like run a hormonal test on me to see if I had lack of testosterone, take me to a religious psychologist who would help me understand my “true nature,” and beat me so desperately with a flip flop that her nail broke in half, spilling blood on my arms and face while she hit me.
I will never forget that moment. Although I was the one being hit, my mom was the one bleeding. I realized in that moment that I could not hate my mom or my sister. They were products of an institutionalized system of oppression that for centuries made it sure that LGBTQ+ individuals across the world would not have the right to even exist. They killed us, tortured us, raped us, and they made my family together with thousands of other families believe that being LGBTQ+ is disgraceful, infamous, and/or sinful. That was the moment I realized I wanted to spend the rest of my life ensuring that no one would ever have to face what I and thousands (if not millions) of LGBTQ+ individuals had to face daily with their families.
Today, I have come a long way with my family and myself personally. They learned to “Never let a problem to be solved, become more important than a person to be loved,” as once said by their favorite religious leader, and we try to be as normal as any other loud Brazilian family can be (not normal at all.) Now when it comes to me and my experience with self-acceptance, I have to say it was really hard getting where I am today. There were particular times when I felt like dying would be the only thing that would ever bring me peace. Fortunately, with long years of therapy and the help of intimate friends such as Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, and the queen of all queens Madonna, I learned to love to be alive. I learned that being here and earning my space in society is the best way of showing homophobes exactly why they should hate me, because I will never let their hate destroy me. If there’s one thing I could say to every LGBTQ+ kid struggling with self-acceptance right now is that you’re a firework baby, you were born this way, and you better work bitch if one day you want to introduce yourself as “Bitch, I am Yvoty Lisvada.”