As part of the #BeYourself campaign we have connected with various inspiring people from the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender community and supporters, friends and families and ask them to share their awe-inspiring stories. Nelson shares his story below and is an example of a quiet hero, someone who is true to themselves, allows the ones he loves and the world at large to see him authentically.
“Live life to express not to impress” that is my Instagram quotes.(https://www.instagram.com/lamounierleao/
) I would love to say that quote is my creation but it is not; the only connection I have with these words in how I think today.
When somebody tells you to be yourself, what’s the first thought that comes to mind? To be a singer, dancer, professional worker, a fitness trainer or just a gay person?
Today I can say that I am being myself, but it wasn’t always that way. I would like to speak of some of my life experience being gay and of the certain period of my life being a “straight guy”. As you may notice, I’m not Irish. I wasn’t born in Ireland but for sure Ireland was born in my heart. I knew that I was gay since I was 10 years old. My mum and dad never married and I don’t have any memory where I saw them together for so much as a coffee. My mum had me outside of marriage when she was very young. Today my mum has a family with another man, her husband i.e. my Step Father. Both her and my dad also have their own families where in total I have 3 sisters and 2 brothers, 2 from my mum side and 3 from my dad’s side.
The fact that they were not together never stopped me having a great relationship with both. From the day I was born, I stayed with my mum till I was 6 years old and from 7 to 11 old I lived with my dad. From 12 to 17 years old I went back living with my mum again. Finally back to my dad again from 18 to 21 years old until I moved here to Ireland. A crazy way of living I know, life can be crazy at times and thinking back it was a tough time for me.
When you’re living in two different families, the truth is that you don’t really feel that you are a part of that family. In my mind, I felt I was a mistake and it wasn’t meant to happen. When I realised this, coupled with being gay I felt even more different. I just panicked because I knew that my mom would never accept me as she is too religious and when I say “religious” I’m talking like 5 days a week in the church. When I was living with her I was not allowed play football, sleep undressed, watch television and many other restrictions. The Protestant church in Brazil is very strict.
My dad is not religious as long I’ve known him. Still, he wouldn’t want to have a gay son nevermind accept a gay bastard son in the family. At that time it would have been too shameful for him surrounded by other family like my uncles and grandmother. To accept that I was gay, being 10 years old at that time, I considered myself “different from others”. I had no knowledge of what it meant to be gay but of course, this was the only thought in my mind. I didn’t have a best friend like me to share these thoughts. I was too afraid and people in our neighborhood was already mentioning to my mum that I was quite girly. My mom, in a panic, chose to try and correct my behavior and body language e.g. “don’t run with your arm swinging Nelson and stay with the boys as you spend too much time with the girls!”. Well “stay with the boys” I managed, no complaints there.
I tried to hide who I really was and bury these feelings. I spent time in church as I felt this would give me some peace or perhaps make up for the fact I as gay. I kept up going to church frequently, at the time I was 18 years old and this was the time when you are expected to find a girlfriend. I was so involved in the church that for a certain period of time, I believed that this feeling was something God landed me with in order to prove my love to him. So I felt I would have to get married to a woman and fight my feelings for men to prove my love to God.
I was in relationship with a girl from the same church as me for few years and as I have already mentioned, the protestant church in Brazil is quite strict and sex before marriage is a major “no-no”. You could get excommunicated from the church for a period of time. All things considered, it was easier for me to be in a relationship for these years. It was then that I decided come to Ireland for a year and to eventually go home after a year to get married, course for my luck it never happen.
Life started the moment I land in Ireland, once here I finally could be myself, course few thinks was still to be sorted, one day I call my girlfriend in Brazil breaking up the relationship, was too hard keeping a relationship a distance, course it wasn’t the real reason, but first I needed to talk with my families before being honest with her. I still remember the day I call my mum to give a great news, by phone was easier, I explained all for her, first time in life I was having a true conversation with my mum, I knew it would destroy her but is my life and I couldn’t live life for somebody else. There’s time in life we just need to be brave, be selfish, be honest, and sometimes life will send you way to realise that.
Today I have great relationship with my mum and dad, when I told my dad he said e.g. “life is your do what’s make you happy”. Back in Brazil in 2013 with my boyfriend at that time, I had the privilege in met my ex-girlfriend and her beautiful baby girl Alice, today we are a good friend laughing about the past. All families was truly happy in see me, and I was, even more, happier, once and for all I was being myself. Some people need time to process some situations, I’m giving time to my mum, she doesn’t accept me, but she respects me. In the meantime, I will do whats make me happy – be myself.
Life sometimes is tough, and you don’t choose a type of family to be born, but you and only you have the power to change your life, if you need to go away to be yourself, do it, you don’t need be famous to be a singer or dancer, you don’t need to study to be a professional worker or have a great body to be a fitness trainer and trust me you definitely don’t need be born in a Non-traditional families to be gay.
Be yourself has a price, but trust me it reward, we live life only once so #BeYourself