As soon as I accepted myself, I felt the need to tell the world how proud I was.
And the reactions were as different as possible.
There were people who cried and hugged me, there were people who started to comfort me. And there were people who were completely mute.
Of all the reactions, the one I always remember was my cousin, almost brother, Alex. He looked at me and said: “What is the most painful for you?”
I, not understanding the question, let alone having time to think about the answer, said what came to my mind: “not having the freedom to walk hand in hand with the ones I love, like you can.” He, with tears in his eyes, told me: “one day I’m sure you’ll be able to.”
I told this whole story to tell you and my cousin Alex that today, with pride, I walk hand in hand with my husband – and even kiss in public. And that I only got after I went to my first LGBTQIA+ Pride Parade four years ago. And this year it was repeated. It wasn’t the flags, trios and costumes that marked me: it was the freedom to be able to express oneself without fear.
In addition to this empowerment, the LGBTQIA+ Pride Parade also aims to give visibility to the work of NGOs and Support Houses, which don’t rest even one day of the year.
According to the São Paulo City Hall, about 4 million people crowded Avenida Paulista and helped to inject and move the São Paulo economy in more than R$ 400 million.
But what happens when this month ends?
LGBTI+ people need support all year round, not just on the day of the Parade. We had several meetings with the big companies, because we need support, mainly for the Support Houses because there are, unfortunately, many children, adolescents and adults who are expelled from their homes because of the issue of sexual orientation and gender identity. And these people have to pay the rent, they have to pay the electricity, they have to pay the people’s food.
Toni Reis, CEO of the National LGBTI+ Alliance
who explains is Toni Reis, activist for the cause and CEO of National LGBTI+ Alliance, a group that proposes to work with the community – they offer legal support, keep an eye on the National Congress agenda, develop manuals and help people from all over Brazil at a technical level.
“It started in São Paulo, which is the largest state in our Federation, with the largest population. Rio de Janeiro as well and we have made the effort to reach small municipalities and the regions mainly Northeast and North, which are most lacking in governmental and non-governmental infrastructure”adds Tony.
If São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, which already have a certain structure, need visibility, help from companies and groups like the National LGBTI+ Alliance to stay on their feet, how are NGOs and Support Houses in other regions of Brazil?
After talking to Toni, I felt the need to know up close how the work of welcoming LGBTQIA+ people in the North and Northeast of the country works.
And it was precisely in Fortaleza, Ceará, which ranks second in the sad ranking of murders of trans people in Brazil, that I met the House Transform.
Who introduces us is Lara Nicole, a trans woman, who couldn’t turn her face to LGBT people living on the streets, after being kicked out of her home by her family.
“It is a shelter for LGBTQIA+ people in situations of social vulnerability, family exclusion. The house also aims to professionalize people. It offers courses, workshops, workshops. We also include these people within the job market, because we know that it is one of our demands, right? The project remains in operation through the donations that we get through our Instagram @casatransformar”, says Lara Nicole.
To get donations, you need visibility, and that’s why it’s so important to be present at a Pride Parade like São Paulo. Or have your own march. And they have. It is the second largest in the country, second only to São Paulo.
“We try to get all that spotlight, because Casa Transformar needs as much visibility as possible, because people, seeing it, will help. The more people you know, the more the project will be able to keep running broadly.”, complete Lara.
Even with the Pride Parade itself, unfortunately there is not the same prominence of São Paulo – and this is also reflected in the donations, so necessary for the survival of those assisted.
And when I talk about help, it’s the basics.
As we support ourselves through individual donations, there are individuals who lend themselves to believing in our project, so they make a Pix, help. We find it difficult to pay for electricity, water. We turn to our social networks.
Lara Nicole Medeiros Mota, founder of Casa Transformar
Social networks have been an ally in this fight.
Who also uses posts, stories and testimonials to ask for help is the Casa Miga , an NGO that welcomes LGBTQIA+ people in Manaus, Amazonas. The location is the only one that provides this service in the entire northern region of the country.
“The house today has a waiting list, precisely because we don’t have a place for everyone and, among the people who need it, we still need to do that sieve and choose the one who is most in need. We work with the LGBT refugee public, so people mostly from Venezuela have passed through here, but people from Cuba, Colombia, who come in refuge, have already passed, right? It is a matter of us also understanding that, no matter how precarious the situation of LGBTphobia is here in our country, we still have much more freedom than our neighboring countries, unfortunately”tell us the coordinator of Casa Miga, Karen Arruda.
In almost four years at Casa Miga, more than 300 people were welcomed, most of them refugees, who, fearful of violence in their countries, because they are LGBTQIA+, flee to Brazil in search of a more dignified life – and, even so, they face challenges.
Pride month helps keep the House going for a few months, but after the excitement wears off and the colorful flag goes down, those who really need it continue to wait for medicine, clothes, and food.
We need to survive the other 11 months of the year, right? So, unfortunately or fortunately, it’s something that I can’t say right, the time we work the most is now, from May 17th to June 30th, and that’s when we try hard to get everything we need. people need to survive the other 11 months of the year. Each one faces a local difficulty and for us to come together and talk about exchanging this experience is very important, even to make this work more visible in the Rio-São Paulo axis, which is where we would get more help.
Karen Arruda, coordinator of Casa Miga
We do need to help each other and really take responsibility for belonging to the same community.
Because we are not different, or rather, we shouldn’t think we are different.
Celebrating the pride of being who we are is fundamental, but we can never forget to look to the side and see that there are people who don’t even have a chance to celebrate because they need to survive.
And for you, reader, who have come this far and would like to know and help Casa Miga and Casa Florescer, here it is:
- Production: Letícia Brito and Carol Raciunas
Source: CNN Brasil