For the first time in my life, I am talking about myself in a way I never have done before. In Pride Month I invite you to read my story.
My name is Jamerson Alves. I was born and raised in São Paulo Brazil, to a family which consisted of me, my older sister, mother and father. When I was 6 years old my parents separated, my sister was a Daddy’s girl and decided to live with my father. I was always closer to my Mum, which never changed, so I lived with my mother. I was brought up as an only child, this wasn’t always easy but worked for me having all my mum’s attention.
Feeling different as I grew up
Growing up I was used to being around adults. I was always mature for my age. My friends often annoyed me, when my mother encouraged me to play with the other kids I didn’t want to, and I’d normally avoid them. In my head I was clear why I didn’t enjoy being with other kids. I felt different and the other kids called me names, like faggot, gay, femme boy etc… The list goes on. We all know what kids are like.
Sometimes I’d try to get involved in some kids/boy activities. But I was usually rejected, and to be honest, I didn’t care. My friends at school always called me names, as most of them were about my sexuality it was easy for me to deal with outside of home. I never told my mother about the bullies and rejection because I never wanted to explain the reasons why the kids acted this way towards me. I learnt how to deal with it on my own and I became a mentally stronger person to cope.
My mother was a very busy, impatient, hard working woman. As a result, she didn’t notice my needs. She always said how blessed and lucky she was to be bringing up a boy, as she used to say “boys are easy and don’t need much care”. One thing she noticed, at a very young age was my feminine behaviour and how much I cared about my appearance. I always dreamed and fantasied about a life far more fabulous than our current living situation. I remember her worrying about my future. She constantly reminded me that she worked hard to bring me up well and I had the responsibility to grow into a good man, and not into a gay man. She said that would break her heart and she would rather see me dead.
It wasn’t a choice for me, even thinking about the possibility of being gay. Having my mum as my only hero, I have tried my best to not to disappoint her in any way.
Being religious was an escape
My family are very religious Christian Protestants. My auntie used to attend the church service every week with my eight cousins. Sometimes when I was staying with her on my school holidays, she used to take me, I really enjoyed it. Church people have a very distinct way of living, totally apart and different to my mum and other people.
I was tired of all the bullying and the stupid names people used to call me. Feeling like I didn’t fit in anywhere, I visited the church on my own. I was only 13 years old when I took part in the church service, and I started to feel good about myself. I’ve always been very intense and very dedicated to everything I do, so church wasn’t any different. Religion was an escape in that period of my life when things started becoming very confusing and scary.
I was proudly a church boy, and a very dedicated Christian. At 14 years old I was baptised and from that moment I knew life would never be the same. I was finally happy and at that point I could plan my life out to be the way my mum had envisioned, there wasn’t any other way!
Attending the church during this time was great. I finally had a break from all those thoughts, where I constantly questioned myself about my own sexuality. I had been called gay and femme boy, but at this point I had not accepted this about myself, in hindsight everyone knew before I did!
My life started to be more fun, as I had a lot of friends in the church. They never called me names or avoided me for any reason, although one of the teachings at the church was to avoid anyone who did not practice good will, which included LGBT etc.
I was very devoted and faithful, following all the rules/doctrine of the church, including what I wore and how I behaved in and out of the church. It was easy to be happy and invested because I felt like I belonged to a community, which I was very involved in.
Around my twenties things started to change
I started to feel lonely and unhappy again and it was hard to pinpoint why. I thought I had everything under control. My family was super proud of me. I had a good job, I even had a girlfriend, which was the icing on the cake flavoured “perfect life” that my mother and other people envisioned for me.
I tried very hard to find comfort in my faith and everything I was doing related to it. But the loneliness was growing more and more every day and all my dedication and faith in Jesus couldn’t help take away the pain and feeling of emptiness within me.
My new life started in this glorious city called London
Fast forward to 2004, I was in my second year at university and my studies required me to learn a second language which was English. At this time everything I felt I’d built up towards this perfect life was starting to diminish. My relationship wasn’t working out, I was sick of my job and tired of the church. I decided to have a break from everything and go somewhere out of Brazil to study English for few months. I quit the job, I stopped my studies, finished my relationship and left the country.
I chose London to be the city where I would live for a short period, to learn English and then go back to Brazil to continue with my life.
My new life started in this glorious city called London. I was totally free from the prejudice of my friends and family. I could finally find myself without any interference. On this journey to self-discovery, I discovered I was in fact gay. It wasn’t that easy to admit to myself. And it was hard to accept, but as soon as I had a mental grasp of the situation, I started having a different outlook on life.
I worked in a very popular gay bar in Soho and met so many people like me. All the happiness, contentment and acceptance in my new life made me forget the struggles from the past.
One day one of my friends invited me to a party where all the boys had to dress as a girl, and I was fascinated with the idea, that was the very first time I did drag.
Life is fabulous in Jamelia’s skin.
We were all having so much fun with all preparation, but somehow, I started to feel very passionate during the transformation process and I couldn’t wait to see what I would look like. When my friend finished my makeup and hair, he asked me to look in the mirror and I did. When I looked at myself in the mirror, I didn’t even recognise myself. I’d never felt so beautiful in my all life, and that inner beauty I discovered brought to life through that transformation changed me completely.
From that moment I became more confident. I felt liberated, I found strength, I felt fearless and that helped me discover so much more about myself. I got to know myself as a gay man and I love this man and I could relate to what I saw in front of the mirror. But I also understood and accepted that I loved to dress up as a woman and explore all the beauty of it with no prejudice.
My alter ego or my inner self is called Jamelia, and life is fabulous in Jamelia’s skin.
My own personal experiences have helped me understand myself, and I couldn’t be more grateful for my life and all the experiences I’ve had. Bad and good, they have made me who I am today.
Whilst prejudice and discrimination still exist, I cannot express in words how fortunate I am to live in a country where people embrace diversity in all its forms. To work within the #bmFamily💜💚 whose members embrace and celebrate diversity and accept me just the way I am, makes my life great.