Caio Fabro, born in Brazil, is a designer and one third of Grace, a queer techno party with inclusion at its fore. Here, Caio describes growing up in Brazil, negotiating Sao Paolo’s queer nightlife scene, and bringing that experience with him to Dublin.
I grew up on a farm in the Brazilian countryside with a Catholic family. It was hard to come out or say anything because of the mentality there. I moved to Sao Paolo in 2006 when I was 17 and I lived there for seven years, before coming to Ireland. I was in the closet for that whole time. When I moved to Sao Paolo, I felt more free but I still didn’t come out. Just a few people that I was comfortable with knew, but I was embarrassed, afraid that my family would find out and how they would react.
I was going out, but I felt on the outside of the gay scene. I enjoyed it but not as I wanted. When you’re in the closet, you hold yourself back in terms of what you do or who you go out with. There was was a kind-of liberation, in terms of going out and meeting new people, people not from the countryside. I wasn’t totally out, but at least I was going out. It was a step.
I worked for five years in Sao Paolo, and then I decided to try something else. That’s when I moved to Dublin. It wasn’t my first choice, but I really wanted to travel abroad for the experience. I found out about Dublin from friends who were also going. It was more financially available too, in terms of the money you need to come here. You don’t need that much. And, if you’re queer, you have more freedom than if you’re in Brazil. You can actually be yourself.
When I decided to move I said I would embrace it. Adaption can be hard, when you leave your country and lose your roots, your friends. You have to start over a little bit, creating your own connections and making yourself comfortable. For me, it wasn’t that bad because I was with two friends but there was a lot of adaption. At first everything is amazing, but that’s just your first reaction to a new place. You have to force yourself to get used to different cultures, get a job and build a life.
When I first arrived in Dublin I still wasn’t totally open or out to everybody, but [marriage equality] was a beautiful moment. I then decided to be more myself, be more open, because this was something I couldn’t express in Brazil. Marriage equality made me realise that the freedom here is greater, I can be more who I want to be.
I was in Brazil last year. I felt able to be more myself, and I was behaving more ‘queer’, but I didn’t feel so comfortable there. The place has a long way to go. The atmosphere was very heavy because someone who doesn’t support our community has such power and voice. It’s a hard moment for us, between hate speech and how people are treated on the streets. We kill gays everyday and it’s so horrible for trans people in Brazil. You have to be hopeful that things will get better. As long as people keep fighting, there’s hope.
With Grace, the culture of a safe space is important. Queer people have to have a place where they can gather, where every type of person can enjoy themselves without judgement. Even in some queer spaces, there can be segregation between groups. The idea was always to create a space where people are comfortable and won’t be bothered for who they are.
When thinking about the night, I thought about where I went out when I was in Sao Paolo and not being able to truly be myself in that moment. I wanted to create a space where people could go and totally feel like themselves. Where you may even be in the closet but you can go out and express yourself and do what you want. In that sense, Grace reflects what I didn’t have, and what I wanted to create as well.
Rave has a background of protest, there’s always something political behind it. In Sao Paolo, you have [anti-capitalist party collective] Mamba Negra who use old buildings around the city to create an environment that’s not just about the music but about including people. Poor people, black people, gay people. When you use a space like that, when you gather different kinds of people there, it’s about more than just the party. It’s subversive, you’re going against what’s already there, you’re trying to create something different. By creating spaces that aren’t homogeneous, individuals are offered more visibility, and a greater sense of community grows.