Izzy, a second year college student currently pursuing a Communication degree, spoke to us about her experience with how her international identity shows up in conjunction with her Queer identity. She spoke about the disconnect between her two worlds and how they have shaped her into who she is today.
In the last video of our series, you can hear Izzy’s first hand reflection about the adversity she has faced in her Brazilian culture about her LGBTQ+ identity, one that is not often recognized. Izzy identifies as Queer, which means she is attracted to people of many genders. Queer is an umbrella term that is used to encompass many different intersecting identities and orientations underneath the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Although dominant culture tends to dictate that there are only two genders, gender is actually far more complex. Queer can be a label claimed by a person who is attracted to men, women, genderqueer people, and/or other gender nonconforming people.
A Brazilian native, Izzy spends her time split between her home country in Sete Lagoas, Minas Gerais, and her host country here in America. Both of her parents were born and raised in Brazil, where the majority of her family still resides. The connection she has to her parent’s and her passport culture is a central to her identity. Though she lives here in Colorado, she visits Brazil every year, keeping her connection to her culture and traditions strong and essential to who she is as she grows.
She speaks English, Portuguese and Spanish. Because she is multilingual, her ability to code-switch, meaning the ability to switch between multiple languages within on conversation without skipping a beat or having to pause to think of the translation, occurs regularly.
When asked what her favorite part of Brazilian culture, Izzy responded, “The comfortability people have. Everyone treats everyone like they’re family and people. It’s like there’s a focus on family, but it’s not just your immediate family. It’s that aunt twice removed and the family friend you grew up with plus their family. Everyone cares about everyone.” Izzy’s point that the Brazilian community and culture are so welcoming juxtaposes her experience in how individuals who identify on the LGBTQ+ spectrum are treated.
In the video you can hear Izzy’s testimony expressing the discomfort she has felt dealing with the having to keep her Queer identity a secret from her family. Out of fear of being dejected or ex-communicated, she has chosen to keep that part of her hidden. When asked at the end of her interview if she had any advice for people who may be struggling with the same culture gap as she is with her two conflicting identities, she says, “If you can, find a second family. Find people who you trust and respect you no matter what. These are the people who will pick up the pieces where your family may falter.”
Izzy represents a new form of strength and courage to pave the way for individuals in her same situation. By speaking openly and honestly about her experience with these two identities, Izzy is able to bridge the gap between a conversation is rarely had. Her words and advice may serve to provide others in her situation better insight about how to navigate this same disconnect in their lives while still maintaining a connection to all of their communities.