It was Valentine’s in Brazil. The day was June 12th. I had just woken up, and my beloved husband had set the table for breakfast. We had been carelessly talking about the fact that it was such a special day, though we hadn’t bought each other any gifts or planned any particularly romantic date. However, amongst some caressing, words of love and affectionate glances, Andre accessed his Facebook news feed, and that’s when he came across the homophobic attack against a gay club in Orlando. I was overtaken by unspeakable astonishment. I jumped out of my chair and ran to the computer to access every possible trustworthy site on the matter.
To my surprise, lots of newspapers and news sites had been broadcasting about the tragedy for hours by then. We both fell apart. Our romantic breakfast had suddenly got a taste of blood.
Andre and I spent a great part of the day keeping up with the news and sharing our love and sympathy towards the victims and their families through our social network profiles and my blog (in Portuguese). Many people joined in, and a wave of sorrow fed our determination to overcome hatred by living even more authentically in freedom and struggling to foster equality. In the place of guns, our bodies moving around with pride. In the place of bullets, our cuddling and kissing. Alongside, our wish that those who hate us would stop wasting their time with prejudice and begin to invest what is left of their lives in loving and letting love.
When I came across the terrorist’s father’s words about his son’s fit of rage in the face of some gay men displaying affection, I called out my friends and followers to post photos of their kissing their beloved and overwhelm the social networks with them. I set the example by issuing a photo in which Andre and I kissed each other.
My photo was the following (see caption below the photo):
Guys, let’s fill up the social networks with kisses on this Valentine’s (in Brazil, 12 June). We have two relevant reasons: celebrating our love and rubbing it on the face of those homophobic rascals, like that nasty bastard who broke into Pulse. Our love will neither end nor go back to the closet. I’ve issued mine here on Facebook and Twitter. Do the same. Include hashtags like #Orlando #Pulse #LoveWins. It’s no small thing. The power of kissing is bigger than the power of weapons. www.foradoarmario.net / Andre (right) and Sergio (me).
By the evening we had eventually made up our minds about going out and trying to chill out a little after so much heartbrokenness. While we had some wine at a gay-friendly bar on Farme de Amoedo street, Ipanema – a street known for its predominantly gay attendance, nobody less than Barack Obama himself popped up on TV, interrupting a soccer game which nobody was really giving a damn about. As soon as Obama started speaking, we all stopped and listened carefully.
I was so glad to hear the most inclusive American president of all times say that Pulse was not only a venue for entertainment but a place where LGBT people would seek empowerment and support.
In Brazil, celebrities, politicians, journalists, and other professionals with public projection also put their thoughts forward. Most of them sympathetic to the victims and to the LGBT community as a whole. Unfortunately, fundamentalist Christians – no better than other types of fanatics – spoke up their benighted minds. One of them – a fundamentalist Christian deputy – suggested that the LGBT community was using the event to promote itself. What do these bigots have in the place of brains? Another Christian “saint” said that ‘to start with, the victims should not have gone to a nightclub, but to church, instead.’
But what struck me the most was the silence of so many. The very same people who promptly open their mouths to criticize the LGBT movement, Pride Parades, and other initiatives intended to draw public attention to the poisonous homophobia and transphobia that kill so many every day everywhere in the world – the same prejudice and discrimination that has kept LGBT people from being awarded the same rights and opportunities as those who are straight or pretend to be so as to thrive in heteronormative societies like ours.
Anyway, Americans should take this tragedy and its motivations as food for thought, especially now that the presidential elections are on the move with such opposite extremes as candidates: Trump and Clinton. Trump is surely more of the worst in terms of prejudice, discrimination, and hatred. His own words and body language make it clear whereas Hilary Clinton has stood for equality in a pluralistic society throughout her career.
Here in Brazil, we have our own “Trumps” to keep away from the cutlery. It’s been hard to handle them, but we will never surrender. Will you?
One thing is for granted, the LGBT community of the USA will never be the same. They will surely become more united and resilient than never before. And while that nasty once armed bastard rots seven feet under, our love will thrive and ‘make the world a better place for you, for me and the entire human race,’ just as Michael Jackson used to dream and sing.
Andre and I are sending our love all the way from Rio to Orlando, and to those who have suffered the loss of so many beautiful lives at Pulse on a day that seemed to be so promising to those having a good time with their friends and beloved ones. To the survivors, our deeply heartfelt support. Live on to make a difference. But above all, be loyal to yourselves and do not let anyone tell you that you cannot be yourselves or love whomever you feel like loving.
Be strong! Be out and proud! Don’t give up your lives and love. We will do our best to do the same down here.