Ilem / Venezuela
“My name is Ilem and when I was 13 years old the entire school find out I am lesbian because of a letter I wrote to one of the most popular girls in school, of course, the letter reached the hands of the school board. The truth is, at that time I haven’t even defined myself as a lesbian, and even when I have always liked women, as a kid I thought that was something that only happened to me in the whole world, it was a very distressing feeling and made me feel isolated and abnormal. But the students and teachers did know how to call me: “la cachapera” (it’s an offensive way to say “dyke” in Venezuela).
Of course, the students made me their object of mockery, the boys came to me in groups to insult me during the recess, my classmates gave me nicknames and even some teachers turned a blind eye about the derogatory comments I received at the middle of class. I was very confused and scared, I felt weak and without wheeling. As the gossip runs like powder, the rest of my family, friends and neighbors found out, as well as my parents. They were even pictures of me with rude comments on internet forums. In a few months the situation in school was unsustainable, for some reason I was not getting good grades and the school board pressed for my definitive dismissal. Even when that meant to lose a whole school year, my parents rather end that situation with a clean break.
And they were right, it definitely meant a decrease of the negative things I received and and I could get closer to ideas and testimonies about homosexuality through characters like Frida Kahlo, Leonardo DaVinci, Oscar Wilde and Walth Withman. I read about the inquisition, about Stonewall, about roman emperors and their lovers, and from Safo to Harvey Milk, they renovated my energy as I recognized myself as part of a much bigger fight. That helped me understand that there was nothing wrong with me and the love I could develop for other women would be perfectly normal. I understood that even when the LGBTI are usually related to negative things, it is a wonderful community that only searches for the deserving place that right belongs to them. Our actions are the ones who define us.
At first my parents and I did not knew how to deal with this subject, it was very hard: we had long and painful conversations, but I made an effort to be sincere and explain my feelings. Little by little they could accept me and support me. Now they are very opened and loving, they even signed for the equal marriage project, as part of a fight we are fighting in our country.
I have never hide my sexuality again, and I’ll tell you the truth, it has lead me to some problems even today, but I have received so much more love and support.
It is important to be sincere with ourselves, accepting us and recognizing our dark zones, but is also important to recognize our lightning zones and feed them, that is the reason why we want to tell you that if you are out there feeling lost, underestimated and weak, please don’t give up. If you have to stand strong to defend the equality and justice that for right belongs to you, do it, but if you have to run to put you safe, also do it; if you have to ask for help, do it, if you have to get away from insults and humiliation, please do it. Every fight we fight for our wellbeing and other’s will always be worth the pain. But whatever you do, don’t give up: mostly, at some point and in some way, things get better, even if it’s just a little.”