When I grew up in Colombia, I had to have a specific behavior that my family and society asked of me.
This man is a textile artist living in Florence, Italy. He produces limited edition hand made products, and teaches art to college students. His story was shared in Piazzo Santo Spirito in Florence, Italy.
I realized everything when I was nineteen.
It was during the political and social movement of the 80’s. When I grew up in Colombia, I had to have a specific behavior that my family and society asked of me. Nobody knew me when I moved to Brazil. Nobody knew my family. I was able to be me.
My partner and I met in 1985, a year after I arrived to Brazil from Colombia. I met him in a dark gay disco.
I was with another guy at the time, a painter, who was in the art scene. It was 5 o’clock in the morning at the disco, and I said to my now partner “excuse me what time is it”? We started chatting, and we left the disco at 7 am. I moved to Columbia to became an artist, so we eventually parted ways. We met again in 1991, and we married in 2009 in Germany. We live in Italy now.
I don’t see a change in the people of Italy since they passed same-sex marriage this past June because they still use religion against it. They use the Vatican as an excuse to hate.
During the seventies, the Italians approved divorce. They fought for other rights as well, but now they are so closed minded. Their minds are going back in time. In the seventies, the workers fought for all rights: the kid’s rights, the women rights, and everybody’s rights. Now they are destroying everything. Can you imagine how we are in Europe and we are one of the last countries to pass same sex marriage?
Although marriage is passed, the taxes and rights are still not fair for gay couples.
If me or my husband were to die, I don’t get anything. We cannot do taxes together, we are paying more, and we are paying double that we would if we were a heterosexual couple.
Italians seem really open minded, but they are not.
This is a very closed society. The way they speak, they way they look, they don’t have a really open mind. They are known to speak really loudly and say jokes to be seen as open. But, they are not. My partner and I are not flamboyant, and we don't hold hands in front of others. Our character is not like that. We are not the classic gay men with feathers and heels. We were not the stereotype Italians thought about gay people when we first moved here. Nowadays, dressing in feathers and heels does not matter. Italy was very square in the 90s. I remember when I arrived here nobody wore sneakers. They were really formal. They used to wear furs in the winter. The look was so strict. It was like you were a business card.
The economy changed, and then society began to be more closed off.
The nineteenth century in Florence was really crazy. It was worse than Berlin. The climate was more open-minded. There were a lot of European people here with a lot of money. The neo-classicism not just with paintings and clothing, but also with open minds and sexuality.
My parents told me that I created a wall between us because I convinced myself that they didn’t know I was gay.
When I told my dad I was gay he said, "who cares as long as you are happy.” He said he talked about it with my mother. I called one of brothers and said, "I have to say something really important to tell you - I’m gay." He said, “you woke me up to tell me that?" He told me that everybody knows and it is okay. I rang my other brother and he said, “I am really angry with you because you have to say to my face so that I can give you a huge hug.” I was 37 years old when I came out to them.