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"He gets emotional when he drinks. He starts crying every time an animal dies on the nature shows." "I can't help it. I'm a Pisces." (Santiago, Chile)
“I came out at the age of twenty. I was trying to understand myself. It was a discovery time. I was thin and flexible. I loved to dance. I started performing in a trans show at a gay club. I wore high heels and sang Janet Jackson songs. It was wonderful. I did my own choreography. My friend Carlos designed my costumes. Carlos didn’t charge me money. He wanted me to be a success. We weren’t lovers or anything. He was more like an older brother. He was huge, and coarse, and a little bit of a bully. One night I was waiting backstage and Carlos came running into the green room. He told me that there was a fire and we needed to leave. He had been standing by the exit when the fire broke out, but he still came back to get me. We ran down a dark hallway to the emergency exit. The hallway was filled with smoke and there was a crowd of people pressed against the door. They couldn’t get it open. It was chained from the outside. Carlos lifted me up on top of the crowd, and people began passing me forward. It was completely dark. I held Carlos’s hand for as long as possible. Someone broke a window and I got pulled into the street. I was completely naked because so many people had been grabbing my clothes. When I finally turned around, I saw the whole club engulfed in flames. Over twenty people died that night. Carlos was one of them.” (Valparaíso, Chile)
“Our first house was destroyed by an earthquake in 1970. We barely made it out alive. We lost everything. I was only nineteen. He was twenty-two. We had two young babies and a third one on the way. When we found this place, it was just an abandoned lot. We built our house from the ground up. We lived in a tent and tried to save on everything. We carried wood and stones up the hill by ourselves. We collected free sand from far away. We barely slept. It took us a year to build. And we’ve been adding to it ever since.” (Valparaíso, Chile)
“The only time my mother spoke to us was when she was drunk. And she’d tell us we were unwanted. She convinced me to drink with her when I was ten. She told me that it would make me feel better. I started smoking crack when I was twelve. I never learned to read or write. I lost my entire childhood. My friends and I would break into cars, steal whatever we could, and use the money to buy more. It made me feel good and I wanted to feel good all the time. And nobody ever tried to stop me.” (Santiago, Chile)
“My mother was the boss of the whole family. Everyone asked for her opinion on everything. She built this business from the ground up. She made all the decisions, she set the budget, and she ordered our supplies. I just helped with simple tasks like collecting money. She passed away six years ago and left the entire business to me. I was lost. I was so nervous and shy. I’d never shown any initiative. I had no idea what to do. But I figured it out. I learned that I could be assertive and make decisions. I’ve completely remodeled the place. And the business is growing. We only had two employees when my mother passed away. Now I have twelve.” (Santiago, Chile)
“Being a grandfather is quite different. It’s much looser than being a parent. I don’t have to always worry about providing patterns of behavior. I just get to give her little kisses. I was allowed to borrow her this morning so we are walking through the park. It’s our personal pastime. She likes to look at the dogs and birds. Today we saw some blackbirds which was quite exciting.” (Santiago, Chile)
“One night I was talking with my wife about how perfect our life was. It was twenty-five years ago. We had four children. We’d just saved enough money to buy a new house. We felt so lucky. I remember she said: ‘What if God takes something from us?’ The next day I came home from work and found my wife screaming. She was holding our oldest son. He’d stuck his hand in the washing machine and electrocuted himself. We couldn’t revive him. We rushed to the hospital but the doctors said there was nothing they could do. I begged them to try. My friends from the church came and we all started to pray. And the doctors were able to bring him back to life. He became a case study. Today he’s 29. He has learning problems. He can’t read or write. But he has a job as a security guard. He enjoys his life. And to this day, I believe in miracles.”(Valparaíso, Chile)
“I had to leave Venezuela. I’ve lived there my entire life. My parents are buried there. But five months ago I had to leave. It just got too dangerous. One day I was attacked while walking home from the supermarket, and I woke up on the ground. I’ve had guns pulled on me several times. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I’m trying to start a new life but it’s impossible to find a job. I’ve applied to about sixty shops so far but nobody will give me a chance. They think I’m too old. I tell them to try me for just a few days, but they won’t. I did find one part time job cleaning toilets and picking up trash. These are things I’ve never done in my life. But right now I can’t afford to be picky.” (Santiago, Chile)
“When my business started doing well, I made the mistake of hiring my friends. Now I have no business and no friends.” (Santiago, Chile)
"He fell in love with me because I used to have a huge ass." (Santiago, Chile)
"I'm his only daughter. And this is his only grandson." (Santiago, Chile)
“I didn’t want to take the pill anymore and I thought I could control things on my own. That was a mistake. I started to cry when I found out I was pregnant. I was terrified by the thought of the baby being 100% dependent on me. What if I wanted to travel? Or go to graduate school? Or just get the fuck away and not talk to anyone? At first I wanted to get an abortion. I even called the hotline but I never went through with it. Now my son is my life. I’ve totally abandoned myself. I broke up with the father after a year. He has a new girlfriend now. He gets to have his life, and see our son whenever he chooses. He gets to go out. He gets to go through an emo phase and decide not to work. It’s unfair. He can play with our son then go back to his life whenever he wants. I get left with the hard part. My life is my son now. And I love him, so that’s a wonderful thing. But it’s a terrible thing too.” (Santiago, Chile)
“If I did something wrong, it was out of ignorance. Maybe I was too strict with him. I was in the army for twenty-seven years so that’s all I knew. He’s really pulled away lately. He doesn’t go to church. He doesn’t care about school. He thinks he knows everything and that we don’t understand anything about his life. So he always locks himself in his room. Recently he told me that he hated me. And I lost my temper and told him that he was no longer my son. Both of us apologized but things are still difficult. I think he’s just very uncomfortable with life. Maybe he feels like the black sheep of the family. My wife and I are professors and both his sisters are doing well. I just don’t know what to do. I’m trying to pull back now and be more lenient. I punish him less. I stopped taking away his phone when he doesn’t do his schoolwork. I don’t want him to rebel any more, but when I back off, it’s hard to be strict again and provide structure. So I just don’t know. I’m reading books to figure out how to reach him. I want him to understand that it doesn’t matter to me if he’s successful in a professional way. I just want him to have some sort of purpose.” (Santiago, Chile)
“I’m going to tell you a family secret. We hated each other in college. We were in the same history class. We argued over everything. I’d make a point in class, and she would argue the exact opposite. At the end of the year, our professor forced us to work together on our thesis project. Both of us asked him if we could choose different partners, but he refused. We made that professor the godfather of our children.” (Santiago, Chile)
“My mother was cold, harsh, and demanding. But she was the best cook ever!” (Santiago, Chile)
“It's been over a year since my divorce. I'd been married for fifteen years. I was pretty beaten down. Some days I would feel so lonely that I couldn’t even sleep. A friend of mine from work told me to download a dating app. I tried for a long time but nobody was answering me. It was making me feel worse. I wanted to delete it but my friend convinced me to keep trying. Then on January 28th, I saw her picture and gave her a ‘heart.’ And she sent me a message. I said: ‘Wow, this is really happening.’ It's like she's an angel who came from heaven to bring light to my life. I love my chocolate bonbon.” (São Paulo, Brazil)
“If there was anyone who cared about me, God already killed them. My mother died when I was eleven. She had heart problems because of all the drugs. These two tears are for her. I can’t even remember her face. I remember going to her funeral but I don’t remember her face. When I dream about her, all I hear is her voice. There’s no dialogue or anything. It’s just her voice, saying: ‘Come here, Jeff. Come here, Jeff.’ After she died, all that mattered was surviving. Nobody showed me love. Maybe things would have been different if I had parents. Maybe I’d have a place to live. Maybe I’d have accomplished something. So I don’t feel guilty for anything. Why should I? God doesn’t feel guilty for killing my mom.” (2/2) (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
“Drug dealing was delicious. I had a pistol, I had girls, I had funk. Everyone saw me as important. I helped defend the favela and maintain the rules. You couldn’t rape, you couldn’t kill, you couldn’t hit a woman without permission. Everyone knew the rules and nobody could break them. Or else you might get erased and fed to the crocodiles. I don’t have a heart. I’m cold blooded. My adrenaline goes up-- but that’s it. Afterwards it’s back to nothing. People feared me. People respected me. But then I got set up. One of the 'higher-ups' wanted my girlfriend. So he accused me of stealing. It was all lies. He even tried to say I smoked crack. They beat me with sticks. They broke my fingers. They knocked out my teeth. They took my girl, my clothes, even my dog. And now I live on the streets. I’ve got nothing left. I used to get everything for free. Now if I ask for food, I’ll get chased away.” (1/2) (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)