Temas de Capa

“I was always in my truth”

Son to Portuguese parents, Lucas Silveira is a transgender who was born in Toronto but lived in Açores, Portugal, when he was a child. His memories from Pico are not the best, but he believes people had different mentalities back then. He loves his roots, his people and connects to them in a very deep way. Contrary to what most people might think, Lucas guarantees that both family and his Portuguese friends always showed him unconditional support. Lucas Silveira is now happy in his own skin and lives his life the best way possible, true to who he is.

 

Lucas, tell me a little bit about yourself – from all I’ve read so far, it seems you were very determined, since you were a little kid. Especially in terms of your sexuality – you always knew you wanted to be like your brothers. How was all that process to you – realizing you wanted to change, as such young age?

To begin, I was born in Toronto to Portuguese parents. My mom and dad came from Pico, Açores. I lived there from the age of 4 to 10 and when I returned to Canada we moved to Mississauga where I lived till I was 24 years old. I was born female but upon reaching my personal truth I transitioned to male. I started my process when I was 32 years old. At the same time, I began to move forward in my already locally established music career and I got signed to Warner Music, making me the first out transgender man in history to be signed to a major label recording deal. My career has moved in many directions since.

As a kid, yes, I was determined. Primarily in knowing my truth. I always knew who I truly was on the inside. That determination though didn’t extend outwardly because being transgender in those times was not even something that I had language for. And to clarify, being transgender is not about sexuality, it’s about gender identity. Sexuality is based on who you are romantically inclined towards, for example, being gay, lesbian or bisexual. As opposed to being transgender where it has nothing to do with who you are attracted to. Just like any other gender though, transgender people can also identify as gay or lesbian or bisexual.

And for me, it wasn’t that I wanted to change at such a young age, it was that I knew who I was but the world around me wouldn’t allow for me to live in my truth without the consequences of being told I was mentally ill. Not at the time. I was born in 1973 and I knew I was a boy when I was 4 years old and I would tell people but they thought I was being cute or using my imagination or that I was just a tom boy. I learned in difficult ways that I had to stop telling people and I became a very reclusive child because of it. It was only in my adulthood that I found the awareness and courage to being able to move forward and come out.

How did music help you going through the whole process of becoming – physically speaking – who you truly are?

Music was always my escape. When I listened at first and then eventually when I started to play instruments and write songs. It was my private world where I could be whoever I was and in that world, I was always in my truth. I listened to bands like The Beatles from as early as the age of 4 and spent hours in front of a tape player with my eyes closed in my imagination with that music as my soundtrack. I started to fall in love with music also because of my father who was a musician and played trumpet in our villages filarmonica. He made us listen to Elvis and Dean Martin and many others. So it was nurtured in me. And music always helped me be truly connected to myself and in that connection I found ground to stay sane through all the years of hiding who I was in fear.

What’s your connection with your Portuguese roots and how was it to live in Portugal for six years?

I am deeply connected to my Portuguese and Azorean roots. I am so proud to be Portuguese and I love my people and our ways. I didn’t have the best experiences as a child in Pico because it was a different time but I still hold a deep love for the place and my family because most of the pain I experienced there wasn’t due to them, just the circumstance of how the social systems were, which were somewhat oppressive in the 70’s and early 80’s. Pico made a huge imprint on me as an artist and songwriter because music was always so important in our culture. As was family, something that I have deep love for. I have an amazing family that has always shown me love which isn’t extremely common in a Portuguese household that has a transgender kid. They have been incredible.

 

In your case, as a luso-descendent person, how did the Portuguese community looked at your decision of doing a gender reassignment surgery?

I have to be honest and say that I was extremely lucky and blessed. I have never really experienced any negativity from my family or from any of the Portuguese friends I have. I know this isn’t always the case from many other queer friends I have, but in my experience I was blessed. I also feel that I walk through the world with a deep sense of truth and I think people find it hard to challenge what they see in front of them as a construct when I am so grounded in that truth.

Do you feel people – in general – are still ignorant when it comes to subjects like these?

Yes, I do think there is a lot of ignorance and in many intersectional ways as well. Not just about being transgender but other identities that exist in the trans umbrella like non-binary or gender fluid identities. But I do think it’s getting better. A lot better than when I came out 13 years ago. And also, it’s harder for trans women than men in a general way. So on that side of things, the experience is very different. Portuguese culture is very patriarchal and “losing” a daughter to becoming a man is easier to swallow than “losing” a son to becoming a woman. There’s way more violence and hatred on that end. So it’s something we as a society in general need to do a lot more work in accepting and moving with in love.

Having Bruce McArthur case as an example – what kind of impact do you believe these situations can have in society? On one hand, in the LGBT community itself – does the fear of assuming their sexuality increase? Do people feel discrimination and violence even more? Or it creates the opposite feeling and people became more powerful and determinate to speak up for themselves?

Bruce McArthur is a unique case that shows a lot of how society value queerness. I’m not gay so I can’t speak exactly to that piece but I can say that the media coverage of this case has been more about how he was a horrific serial killer as opposed to making it a gay issue outside of the fact that the police didn’t take the missing men more seriously, because they were not only gay men but also mainly gay men of colour. I don’t personally think that it has had an effect on how gay men or anyone feels about coming out but perhaps it may have affected how our community feels a sense of safety both within and as valued members of society by the police. I think situations like this can unite community and I hope that’s what it’s doing amongst the gay community. We need to keep each other safe, not only from the police, but from people within our own community. No one is immune to having dangerous community members and I think it’s important to remember that I guess.

                                                                                                            Catarina Balça

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