LGBTQIA+ Pride Month: Fighting for Recognition

Young men from Médio Juruá share challenges and overcome prejudice in the deep Amazon

June/July 2023 – Fabrício Carvalho, age of 20, a resident of the Roque community, in the Médio Juruá region, has a dream: He wants to obtain a Tourism Management degree and travel around the world. He recently passed the college entrance exam, and will move from his community to the municipality of Carauari, in the state of Amazonas. 

So far, his life has been full of challenges. He grew up in Roque, a community located in an extractive reserve that can only be reached by boat, hours from the city. Fabrício gradually came to terms with his homosexuality, but faced prejudice and homophobia. 

"When I was teenager, there were people who used distorted language to refer to homosexuals and made joking comments. This was very painful for me.”. The young man recalls that it was difficult to change people’s views, even within his own family. "I never got to say clearly to my parents that I am gay, but they know and accept me. My mother helped me to be recognized as I am, and to change the way others see me at home", says Fabricio.

His parents are involved in pirarucu sustainable management activities, and grow crops for their own subsistence on their land, where their son also worked. His father is part of a team that monitors the pirarucu population in lakes, an activity that establishes the amount of fish they can catch and sell for the next season. 

These practices promote species conservation and generate income for riverine communities. They receive support from USAID/Brazil through programs such as the Médio Juruá Territory Program (PTMJ), a territorial development initiative coordinated by Sitawi Finance for Good that has supported more than 3,000 people and conserved 1 million hectares. 

In addition to USAID support, the PTMJ has a partnership with Natura, the Partnership Platform for the Amazon (PPA),  and the Alliance of Bioversity & CIAT. The project is implemented by local organizations. "These projects support the communities and are an opportunity to improve our income and expand our knowledge," declares Fabrício.

However, the young man remembers that it was hard to work in the field or in the pirarucu value chain. "I didn’t have the ability like my brothers to work with the land. I liked cleaning the house and playing with dolls. That's why I was made fun of. That phase was challenging".

He adds: "I spent my childhood and adolescence in the middle of the forest, living on the banks of the Juruá River, where I learned a lot. But because of my sexuality, I developed a self-sabotaging behavior. But now I've been accepted into college, and this is proof of what I'm capable of". 

Fabrício had the support of his friend Rodrigo Carmino, who is also gay, who had already faced similar prejudice in the same community. "I spent my childhood feeling lonely because the boys played games that I didn't like and the girls didn't always help. At the beginning of the discovery of homosexuality, I even avoided leaving home and read a lot. At 17, I moved to the city and I got support to come out", says Rodrigo. He is now 26 years old and studying Rural Teaching.

When Rodrigo came back to live in the community, he helped Fabrício. "The message I give to young victims of prejudice is that they allow themselves to be themselves, openly and freely, without fear of dreaming."

In June, the whole world celebrates LGBTQIA+ Pride Month, with marches and demonstrations that remind us of their fight for freedom, respect, and security.

Card brings a drawing of several people holding colorful flags and the blue title Pride Month

USAID is committed to advocating inclusive development and promoting equality and dignified life for all LGBTQIA+ individuals, eliminating all forms of violence, discrimination, stigma, or criminalization.

Fabrício knows young people in the Médio Juruá often feel nervous about coming out. "My message to you is, 'Do not be afraid'. Even if your parents cannot accept you, the important thing is that you can accept yourself and be happy".