José Longatto reflects on LGBT history month and recalls his teenage years in more conservative times.
When I was a homosexual teenager growing up in São Paulo, in the south east of Brazil, only heterosexual relationships were acknowledged openly. I was unaware of celebrations for LGBT History Month and had no peer group in school to support me. I always felt lonely and was bullied frequently, so I ended up suffering on my own. The best time at school was when the final bell rang and I went home to hide in my room and play with my sisters’ dolls. My parents were very strict and unable to accept anything that was not ‘normal’. Sunday was Mass day: pink and dolls were for girls, blue and cars for boys.
Now homosexuality is embedded in the UK’s school curriculum. Teachers are aware of diversity and variety in the modern family. Pupils come from diverse backgrounds and want to be themselves. It is great to see how much the LGBT community has achieved almost half a century since the New York Stonewall riots in 1969.
We have come far but there is a lot more to learn and overcome. Today I am happy to be a LGBT agent of change, not just a victim of prejudice (for having fabulous shoes).
Now, as a UK resident, I live in a nation where I can tell my colleagues I have been with my boyfriend for 10 years and we have just got engaged. As a physio, I was received with open arms at every interview and job I have had in the UK.
The LGBT community has worked hard everywhere to promote diversity and this will go on. We want to show everyone that ‘normal’ is being ourselves, regardless of preference.
I am proud of being gay, I am proud to be an ambassador for the CSP LGBT+ network. I look forward to contributing to raising awareness within the CSP community and celebrating our achievements at the LGBT History Month during February.
José Longatto is a physiotherapist who has lived in the UK for seven years.
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