From Brazil to the Bluegrass

Matheus Rezende-McCubbins

What does the word queer mean to you? How do you identify?

Queer to me means to embrace all parts of who you are, and being proud to be a part of a community that fights everyday for nothing but acceptance and recognition of our rights.

To be queer is also a part of a political, cultural and economic disruption of what is by some defined as “standard”… englobing the entire LGBTQI+ community as a family, and to know that you can be loved and accepted regardless of how you dress, how you look, or how you identify. With that being said, I identify as a cisgender gay man, who wants to contribute what I can to ensure inclusivity and to spread love to all my Queer community out there.

Why? Or why don’t you identify as anything at all?

I am finally comfortable with the fact I am a cisgender gay men. It took me a while to figure out who I was, and where I would fit while growing up. I didn’t have any queer people around me…not even on T.V. (we had four channels back then), so you can imagine how lost I was when I started to feel attracted to boys…while being a boy! I had a to go through a lot before understanding the differences between sexual orientation, and gender identity.

Where are you originally from and explain how was it growing up/living in Kentucky?

I was born and raised in Brazil, land of soccer, Carnaval, and happy people. Also a country that kills the most LGBTQI+ people on the globe.

Unfortunately that had it’s role in one of the reasons I decided to move away. I was a little concerned about moving to the conservative state of Kentucky. Thankfully, I found Louisville to be a progressively Queer-friendly city, and I’ve met amazing people that helped me to finally fully accept myself for who I am.

What would you say to any person struggling to come into their own identity?

You can be going through a rocky road right now, and you might feel lost with understanding the feelings you have about yourself. Be patient, try to find others that are going/have been through the same,  surround yourself with people that love and accept you for being your colourful self even if it’s not your “birth family,” and you will find nothing but joy when you learn to love YOURSELF.

How does your own identity run how you carry yourself? Or does it?

I try not to let the way I identify myself to be the only way I live my life. Some days I like to just feel my oats and embrace more of the colors on the board, and that’s why I love the amplitude of being Queer, you don’t have to put yourself inside a four walled room… I definitely need more windows than that!

What issues do you see in the queer community?

It’s crazy to think we would have issues inside our own community that already suffers so much with everything else on the outside just for existing. But unfortunately, this is a very harsh reality. Growing up I remember always being bullied for being too girly, or for having a high pitch voice. Ironically, one of the bullies would come out as gay just a few years later.

There’s still a lot of internal homophobia within our community, specially when sub-categories are created to label people based on their own individualities. I can’t count how many times I heard someone was “too fem” or “didn’t have the Instagram body” therefore they were automatically not a “match.”

What do you think would solve those issues?

Acceptance is the key. The Queer community needs to grow together to be able to face obstacles daily, as well as to create more support systems to protect our own, while educating other people.

Where do you feel “at your best” (safe, happy, fabulous, comfortable, etc)

Being away from my home country and family has taught me that the “where” I feel at my best is not a place, but anywhere I can be surrounded by the people that make me complete.

Who influenced the life you live now?

My mom, my husband, Britney Spears and some of the most amazing people I met when I came to the U.S. back in 2014 for my study abroad program.

My mom for raising me to be a good freaking human being. My husband, that joined me on this life adventure, and that is the reason why I can call Kentucky home.

Britney for getting me through some tough times when I was just a baby gay boy, amen Blackout era.

As well as my Ohana, all the amazing people I met in 2014 that were my support system when I finally opened myself to who I really am.