14 yo – 21yo
And that’s pretty much how the things started getting a bit clear when it came to “am I?”. I wrote a love letter for him in the end of our volleyball competition representing the city (I was number 7 or 14). He could not have handled it better or being more respectful and keeping it for himself. And, of course, he was straight.
Oh, I forgot to mention two details that might be important later:
- when I was 12-14, I started doing some modelling courses to improve my confidence, posture and manners in general. I remember that my closes teacher said that, after seeing me on the runaway, she have given up of asking me to become a Doctor and she would fully support my modelling career.
- about 10-14yo as well, I climbed a few times the “Pedra do Elefante”(Elephant mountain – 1981 ft) and that became the place where I could escape the world and shout whatever I wanted to get out of my chest, or cry for not being able to accept who I was.
With a broken heart, I wanted to leave town. I asked my parents to send me to a Boarding School run by a different religion that what we followed. I didn’t feel welcome by the Catholic Church, or society in general, in case I would come out. It was an expensive school and the only way of reducing the bill was working in the farm of the school, which it was just not for me. My sister got upset and decided she should be the one to go. Fine. So another one of my teachers said that there were private schools in the capital (300km away) where I could sit an exam and try to get a bursary, a discount off the monthly bill. So I did. I passed in 1st out of the other few thousands who did the same exam. And the capital was there for me. I moved away from my parents home when I was 14.
It was around that time that I started requesting my parents if I could see a psychologist or psychiatry , and the answer was pretty much the same: we don’t have money.
My first attempt (or thought of attempt) of suicide was to go up the Elephant, the the 14th of April of 1998, at 14hrs14mins, as I couldn’t go to the boarding school and my sister was failing it miserably. She had taken my chance of dedicating myself to my studies and “a” religion, and, in my head, my only chance of not becoming hated by society for wanting to be with a man. It stayed in the thoughts and planning.
Year after year I would try to think of a different way.
In my first year in the capital, I had a best friend. One that I took home to meet my parents. And then he found out I had fallen in love by someone he knew. That was about half term in our school calendar year. Needless to say my life in the capital became hell and I lost a best friend. It was probably the worst homophobic scenario I had been involved in. Every weekend I would leave my parents in the countryside, crying and asking for them not to send me back to the capital.
In the meantime, I have been introduced to a different religion, the spiritualism by Kardec, through the couple I used to stay in their house. They accepted everybody by whom they were, thought me how to cook, clean, be kind. Dona Olga e seu Marco. They were like my light in the end of the tunnel. Leo and Lorena, their son & daughter, pretty much protected in the school and gave me the strength to finish the year. The religion gave me the backbone of “think in a different way, Dener”. So, I couldn’t stay in the capital due to the homophobic treats. I had to leave.
My parents organised me to move closer to them, in the new branch of the same private school. As a new brand, it was shit. Proof of that is: I was on the 2nd year and scored 116 out of 120 on the first test. The second place scored 73 out of 120. Studies were the only thing that kept me going and that was being taken away from me.
In the end of 1999 (15yo), I did an university entrance examination, and passed on 23rd. I got invited by the Uni to join their free (and one of the best in the country) high schools, which would lead me pretty much direct to Uni. Any teenager’s dream. No one else I knew who tried the same exam had been invited or scored so high. My sister showed me the invitation letter but didn’t let me use the landline phone to call Dad to give me a lift to Vicosa (513km away). So I started a fight. It was not pretty, nothing that I am proud of, let’s put like that. Ended up secluded in my bedroom, with my Granddad (mum’s dad) and his two sons in the house, not letting me go away and treating me of shooting me if I crossed “their street” (the main one form my parents house to my dad’s work). So I didnt leave. My dad got home and it was already too late to pursue my dream and I had to accept that staying in the shit branch of that private school was the only way. Since then, studies for me are not the same. I struggle to start and finish a course.
On the Tuesday after that, my Granddad took me to court. He didn’t want his family name on mine. Accused me of taking drugs. So, for my luck, I had never touched any drugs and I wouldn’t. And, as well, they didn’t realise they were dealing with one of the most intelligent teenagers in that estate in Brazil. So I carefully recorded 2 hours of insults and accusations from my two uncles and my granddad. Played every little bit to the jury. I can say I made my dad proud that day, the only person who stood by me even if knowing I wasn’t an angel at home. He didnt know I had the tapes. The judge tried to break the tape. She didn’t know I had made 3 copies and posted 2, all to different people asking them to pass to someone else to keep it secured. She also didn’t know who I was before also accusing me of something. She had lost the case and I walked out of that jury, at 15 years of age, free and not in jail. I wanted to sue them three and get a shitload of their money to compensate for the rents and schools fees that I would have to pay due to that. My dad refrained me from doing so.
I started smoking (I already used to drink), as it was the only time I could socialise with some “rebel teenagers” who accepted me by whom I was. And, even if it might sound contradictory, they kept me alive.
So, in 2000, I did another modelling course. Came out to a few close friends. Finally won the regional volleyball championships after being the runner-up team two years in a row. And organised another move of school: to the main competitor of the one I was studying at (basically because their library was inexistent). So my sister called the college in the other town to collect my result: 1st. I had passed in 1st place and had my full year of private school covered. Genius!
2001, my sister left to America. My parents were accusing me of taking drugs and then I decided to break the “what is he hiding from us?” question in their forehead. I came out. My dad first reaction was asking me not to dress up as a drag queen or become a girl. He also told me he always knew as his friends kept telling him. My mum said that there was still time for a cure and to see a psychologist (yes, that one which they never had money for it).
My world was collapsing with so much incoherences. They cut my funds when I moved to my final year of high school because I was gay. So I organised a 1520km trip to do some runaways, raise some money and try to live my own life. There I went for a week of fashion show, fell in love with a guy (who ended up cheating and lying) and went back home to ask them to ‘set me free’ (In Brazil your parents had to authorise you to leave the house by signing a document, otherwise they could “claim” me back anytime as I wouldn’t have the right for anything).
Needless to say, they refused to sign the document. So I stayed in the school which was great, but my heart was not there, my attempts of doing my own thing was always facing a barrier that was out of my control. It was the start of deepest depression I ever faced. I hated myself, hated everybody else, hated my books. This world was just not for me.
I bailed the university entrance examination in 2001. I was not ready. I didn’t want to be. No one ever understood why I had not passed that test. I just didnt do it. I read the paper and probably cried for 3 hours during each one of the 3 days of exams.
I convinced my parents to let me go back to the capital in 2002, to recap all the subjects I had to study for the university test again. It was almost mid-term when I joined everybody. A few teachers would look at me not understanding what I was doing there. Old friends from the first year couldn’t believe. It was hard but I had a point to prove. And I did: scored 83 out of 100 on the first “internal trial test” which the college used to apply. 3rd out of the whole 10000 students with only 1 month of study against 5 months of them. Point made. The first had scored 86, the second 84. The only difference was: they had made mistakes in every subject, and to increase their score they would have to work in all of them teachers. I had lost 12 points (out of 15 possible) in Biology. So if they pushed my biology, I could exponentially increase my score, with just one subject.
I fell in love. Had the most amazing time ever. He lied to me. Cheated on me. Right the day before the bloody university test. I didn’t sleep. My friend Hugo was making me camomile tea to calm me down so I could sleep and be able to do the test. Never went to the bathroom in the middle of a test soooooooo many times. I gave the then boyfriend 3 weeks to finish off whatever he was having with the cheap (and ugly) date. The deadline was the 31st of December 0:00. New year, new man, new life. And I had of focus for the exams on the 4th/5th of January. I started 2003 single, let’s put like that. I looked him so much. He didn’t care. And I’m pretty sure they are still together.
I passed the exams, in 7th. In both unis I tried. Both 7th place.
Before the beginning of my Uni, my mum had a stroke. Over working (two jobs) and doing her masters on top of that, in order to afford the ever increasing cost of living in the capital. I didn’t work and they fully supported me financially. And I partied, OMG. Alcohol and cigarettes, let’s leave this clear. My mum in hospital gave me a wee shake, then the amount of homophobia I was suffering at uni, that was my life upside down. Depression, depression and more depression. Not easy loosing the person you love and thought you would marry in 2003/4, then adding being a gay guy studying computer engineering, and everything was falling to bits. I tried to hold onto religion but I was far too weak already.
I started seeing psychologist after psychiatric, one after another. One in the countryside opened her legs to the point I had to emphasise her white underwear under her navy skirt would not “cure me”. The other one asked me to read the bible (and I said I had done several times). The best one asked me to close my eyes, throw a bucket of white paint in the room I was in, become a super hero and go to the place where I felt safe. I still use this technique to sleep, nowadays more than ever, and it works miracle. I don’t even feel pain when doing my tattoos. That’s how good it is. Oh, the place where I felt safe was the Elephant Mountain. The only contradiction was: I chose a superhero that flies, but instead in went into the ground. She was also a medium. She knew I was about to let it go of life but she kept her faith on me. I just couldnt afford 2-3 sessions per week as she requested/needed to work on my psychological. I remember her suggesting “it’s not worth it”. She knew I knew what she was talking about. I pretended I didn’t understand. She called me a few times, I didnt answer the phone. I was ashamed I couldnt afford to pay the only Doctor that made me feel better.
So I went to the final one: the one who my health plan would cover and my parents wouldn’t suffer a massive financial hit. He was a psychiatric and started with one pill only. After 20-25 days, I almost had a heart attack. My body had a reaction to whatever that was. Thanks I had a friend with me who provided the first aid and manage to control the adrenaline. I thought I was going. So he changed the medicines. It was probably the worst he could have done. Now I knew those little pills could kill me, so I had the perfect recipe for the goodbye. He was so good that even not speaking to me (the longest session was 15 minutes – the first one when he had to ask my name and my address). All the rest was about 5 minutes just to prescribe more drugs.
At this time, after the 2003 stroke my mum suffered, my dad and my mum became extremely religious. To the point of anything I would ask them for help, the answer would be “go down on your knees and pray, you have to pray more”. That, for me, I’m sorry for what I am about to write, it was the most imposing detail for me to try to take off my life again. The two closest people to me was not listening to me once again, because of the brain haemorrhage that certain religions were causing in Brazil. A bit of info: the priest- or however he is called, was caught spending public money on a gay escort and a hotel in the capital. He was also one of the ones who would give me a lift when I was 15 and try to have sex with me and get a no every time, but I had to take the lift as it would save my parents some money. He was also the one who would tell my dad I was gay, before I came out. So how can this kind of person lead a religion and set moral values into families? He probably just wanted me to get down on my knees, in front of him, and it was definitely not for praying. So then he decided to make my life hell through my parents.
Anyway, too many details. Back to the psychiatric: I saved every single one of the two types of pills for a few months. The one to wake me up and making me not needing cigarettes, the one to put me down to sleep. I have planned my last runaway for March 2005. All into place, there I went.
Fantastic runway, ditched the after party/drinks with the designers/organisers. Told a friend of mine what I was about to do, the reasons for it and asked him not to tell anyone. Just wanted to make sure someone would deliver the messages to every single person I loved. It was my decision and he respected, there was nothing he could do to change my mind. I took both pile of pills.
Only remember waking up in the hospital, angry for still being alive. It was like a had a wee demon inside my body who hated the world. Then I see my mum and blamed her for bring me to this world. So I got a slap. Yes, a slap and from the Doctor who saved me. I remember him telling me that for every word it would come out of my mouth to attack my mum, he would give me another slap. I didn’t get another one. I look around and my closest group of friends was there. I didnt know what to feel. Ashamed, for doing that, for sure. And, if it was not for the joint effort of every single one of them, I wouldn’t be here today.
Only thing I can say, it is not worth it. It’s just not worth it. So if those thoughts ever come across your mind: this life has sooooo much to give. So don’t you give up, like I did. Because the years that followed it, are the best ever years of my life.
And, the smiles on the pics below, are from the same person right here, who was dying inside. Those were, for me, the hardest years of my life.
And sorry for not having spell checked this post.