I attended my first pride parade ever — and it proved to be a very memorable experience indeed.

Yesterday was the day after my 31st birthday, and what better way to usher in a new cycle of my life than by attending my first ever pride parade, in Alfenas in Brazil.

First ever? But like, haven’t you been out for almost seven years? …I hear you. It’s true, this was my first experience at any pride parade, and the first time I actually had the confidence to go with an open mind, clear heart and with the intention to have a good time.

All the other times I had the opportunity to go in South Africa, I always managed to talk myself out of it, be it because of feeling scared of being othered, because of inherent voices telling me that I’m not allowed to express myself as a gay man as openly and publicly, or just because I felt like the music would be too loud (which it naturally was, but that’s besides the point and one of the weaker excuses I gave myself over the years).

Sure, I was a little anxious arriving at the parade hand-in-hand with a man, especially being in a fairly conservative small town, but, I was pleasantly surprised at the turnout, the energy and the general feel of inclusivity. Surprised and excited. People were all dressed up for the occasion (my partner and I actually wore a matching outfit, including some heart stickers on our shirts and some face glitter, which you can see on Instagram) and I was thrilled to see more than just the gay community mobilized and showing support for the LGBT cause. Seriously, it was a mixed bag, which was surprising. There were families, children, teenagers, regular-ol’ straight folk and all kinds of attendees out to show their solidarity for the cause. When I think about it now, it’s easy for me to get emotional about it, having spent a lifetime feeling shameful about who I am and my sexual preference. Yesterday was almost like another coming out for me; I got to express myself openly and in a way it was a healing experience too, having been the victim of homophobic abuse in the past.

The afternoon included great music, friendly faces, a few speeches, an appearance by the head of UNIFAL (the public university of the town), as well as lots of drag performances, photo ops and general merriment. Sure, the alcohol was flowing and the drugs were all over the show, but I’m glad that my partner and I got to experience this sober, fully coherent, and in a way that made the experience about more than just a party. This year, it was really about showing up, and showing appreciation for those that fought for the rights of the community fifty years ago in the Stonewall Riots. We were able to be out in public, expressing ourselves without fear of retribution as a result of these heroes, and it is something that everyone who is part of the LGBTQ+ movement should be thankful for.

All-in-all, it was certainly an experience I will never forget. It also brought me closer to my creativity, as being surrounded by so many fabulous people in their finest gave me a lot of ideas about my writing and general creative expression moving into this new cycle of my life. For example, I woke up rather inspired this morning to start sharing some of my photography, including a picture I took at the parade yesterday showing your “everyday” Brazilian woman watching a drag performance with a flag of solidarity. In a time where the country has an openly homophobic president, this seems to have a political connotation of sorts, but you can make up your own mind about this. Have a look at the new section of the site (and to see the picture) over here. I’ll be uploading more pictures to the section very soon.

Happy end of Pride month y’all, and thank you to everyone who showed their support this year, advocating for compassion, empathy and inclusion during and outside of pride month.

– Conrad was here.

One year since starting the blog, I’m in Brazil continuing on a journey of self discovery.

I’ve been known to put a lot of emphasis on milestone events in the past, so what better way to celebrate the one year anniversary of the blog than by spending some time in a faraway location, taking a second to acknowledge everything that has happened over the last 365 days, and exploring a culture completely different to the comfortable bubble I grew used to in Cape Town.

At the moment, I’m in Alfenas, a small town in the South of Brazil, with a population of around 70 000 people. The townsfolk are calm and timid bunch, community oriented, and I enjoy the energy here. Foreigner stares aside, I have felt very welcome here, and also, have learned just how far I still have to go with my Portuguese lessons. I think I realised I wasn’t quite as good as I had hoped when I didn’t understand much while people around me in the boarding queue at the airport were talking to each other. I made it to Brazil regardless, which is good!

Last week, I took the week off from work, in order to explore São Paulo (which is massive, and features some of the most intense traffic jams you will ever see in your life), as well as some of the other towns in the Minas Gerais area. One of these towns, Varginha is renowned for its alien sightings, even going as far as showcasing a “UFO” (like, a real life one, you would expect to see in a Hollywood movie) in their city centre. I snapped a quick pic and had a good chuckle at this. I’ve heard it only took two people to see the alien for it to become a thing, and who am I to question this?

In fact, I’ve experienced quite a few extraordinary things while being here, like spending time in a public university library exploring local literature, visiting an art exhibition for one of Brazil’s most famous contemporary artists, as well as having dinner at a bakery (strange to think about, I know) that serves the most delicious treats you can imagine and sells them off as meals. I’m trying all kinds of interesting local cuisine, thanks to my partner (a Brazilian native), who I am travelling with at the moment, and of course, I’m having a cappuccino wherever I can. This is part of a personal mission explore the myth around Brazil having the best coffee in the world. So far, so good. I particularly love that they enjoying adding chocolate and cinnamon to their cappuccino’s, which is something I want to start doing when I make coffee at home.

Caffeine aside, I recently also got to experience to most incredible bookstore I have ever been in, which featured different sections, each with a unique ambiance (the art section, for example had a unique feeling, when compared with the history section, not only based on how the books were cataloged, but also in terms of the music they play in the section and how you experience the particular part of the store). I loved this, and found myself particularly impressed with the fact that the store featured so many local writers, which is not something you would traditionally find back home in South Africa. Brazil is a nation of great cultural diversity, with writers from many different backgrounds, so I am curious to know more. I’m particularly enjoying learning more about Clarice Lispector, an early 1900’s writer, who is very well known across the country.

This week, I’m doing a little less traveling, in order to focus a bit more on work, finishing up a new episode of the podcast, and naturally I’m doing a lot of writing (I’m already a few poems down, and have picked the title for my next anthology, launching in July). I think it’s a good idea to take it a bit more easy this week, as in the past ten days, I’ve covered over 10 000km between car trips, flights, Ubers, bus trips and walking. It’s certainly been a memorable journey so far, and I’m keeping an open mind about the next 10 000.

– Conrad was here.