“Do you have a cigarette?” –“No,” I respond.
“Where are you from?” –“Uh oh,” I think.
In the few minutes following, I handed both my cell phone and about fifty dollars over to this man who had, in theory, just wanted a cigarette. I was inconspicuously walking home on a Sunday evening with just a carton of cashew juice in my hands, when a block and a half away from my apartment someone was walking behind my just a little too close for comfort. My mistake was in turning my head to see and initiating eye contact the man who was so close behind me. After indicating he had a weapon tucked in his waistband and me mistaking the gesture to mean that he was hungry, I offered him my carton of juice. Either feeling belittled or mocked (or both), he then forcefully blocked me from walking any further and demanded what I had in my pockets. ...continue reading " A Quick, Fateful Question"
“Você não é brasileiro.”
Having been colonized by the Portuguese and chosen as a destination for European emigrants, Brazil has a decently sized white population. So, although my light hair and green eyes may make me stick out a tad, it certainly wouldn’t exclude me from “looking Brazilian.” But, whenever I open my mouth, the obvious becomes, well, obvious: I’m not Brazilian. ...continue reading "You Aren’t Brazilian"
Whenever I arrive to a foreign land, I automatically feel like an outsider, and with good reason. But, I have noticed that, in a way, being gay gives me an automatic “in” to the culture I visit: being gay is sort of this connector, or equalizer, that transcends race, culture, social class. Despite the fact that people who identity as gay can be very different from one another, there is a perceived shared identity, a shared history.
This phenomenon was reinforced upon arriving to Rio de Janeiro. Rio has a sizable LGBT community, and when I reached out, I was warmly welcomed and on my way to making friends. But, as time has progressed, I have seen myself stepping out of the confines of the community because I don’t want to be surrounded by people who are strictly similar to me. Part of going abroad is to step outside your comfort zone, so I found it counterproductive to limit myself to one sector of Brazilian society. ...continue reading "Outsider No More"
Community. It can be a place, group of people, or a feeling that makes you feel like you belong. Having been in Rio for about a month and a half now I've been slowing piecing together my new life and forming part of the community here. Below are some photos to visualize what and whom I am surrounded by.
If I'm not at school or on the street, I'm at home. My roommates are important because they are whom I come home to every night and they are the closest, most immediate resource I have if I ever need anything.
The exchange community here at PUC is ginormous and vibrant. There are about 500 of us here, but I am closest to those who did the Intensive Language course in January. Here we are at the top of the Dois Irmãos mountain. The other exchange students open my eyes to new opportunities in the city and are a great way to gauge how my perspective and experience of Rio is developing over time. ...continue reading "Comunidade"
Insert words like “male,” “Californian,” “student,” “brother,” and “friend” to describe my identity and you’d be off to a pretty good start. And although I’ll be the first to say that my identity isn’t defined by my sexuality, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that being gay has very much affected my world view and been a quality of mine that I often contemplate. ...continue reading "Identity & Perception"