When Sidinei Júnior’s (22) mother was pregnant, the doctor, when doing the exams, said that he was having trouble counting his fingers. For the mother, it was a surprise when the baby was born without arms and legs.
Sidinei never saw himself very differently from other people: he went to school, skated, made martial arts… The discovery of sexuality came in his teens, at 13, when he had a crush on a boy at school.
Sidinei has been dating Marco Antônio (53) for three years. The couple met through a flirting app. Sidinei’s independence surprised Marco at the first meeting in Florianópolis, where they reside. The young man leaves the house alone, takes the bus, goes to the market, shopping and performs a series of tasks without needing help. This independent side of Sidinei is linked to the way he sees the world: “I always try to see the bright side of things,” says the young writer and youtuber.
What did the doctors say to your mother during pregnancy?
I was born in 1998, in a city in the interior of the state (SC), when there was still no ultrasound in such good qualities. The only thing they told my mother about my disability was that they were having trouble counting my fingers. The medical name for my disability is “congenital malformation of the upper and lower limbs”.
How was your childhood? How was it at school?
In kindergarten they created a chair with wheels for me to get around. Adaptations were made in schools. Unfortunately, I moved cities a lot and, with that, my school. It turned out that I never managed to take advantage of the adaptations made. We even joked that I was going to go to all the schools in the city just so that the adaptations could be made for future students who might have a disability. And yes, there were some bullying episodes and prejudice that I know that caused trauma, but today my activism is so that other people do not go through the same.
And were you very active?
Yes. I have an older sister with no disabilities and we have always been treated equally by our parents and grandparents – except for my “special needs” in locomotion and bathing, for example, so I never saw myself as different from others. So much so that my sister went to preschool, did dance, and that encouraged me to want the same. At first, my family was a little afraid of how I was going to adapt, but I ended up insisting so much that they decided to try it. After the wheeled chair, we decided to order a skateboard for my best mobility, until I got a motorized wheelchair. In time, later, around the age of 8, I even asked to take judo classes at the school where I studied, along with the dance, which I already was doing. And other physical activities due to my disability, such as physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and hippotherapy.
How old were you when you discovered yourself as gay?
I officially found myself gay at the age of 13. “Officially” because I always felt an attraction to men, but I never questioned myself about it, since I also had a certain crush on schoolmates girls. However, at the age of 13, for a male schoolmate who went to sleep at my house in full celebration of my birthday, I started to feel a much greater physical attraction. First, I had my spine surgery recently, and I needed to lie down for a while, and I went to lie on his lap. Then he asked me for a massage, and kept stroking my arms, even when I wanted to lie down next to him at bedtime. In the morning, when his parents went to pick him up, I started to miss him almost immediately, I couldn’t explain. That was when a friend of mine at the time, who was openly bisexual, asked me if maybe I was not gay and was in love with him. And it was the first time that I confronted myself and wondered about it. Since then, I have never felt anything romantically for women; only by men.
Did you meet your boyfriend through a flirting app, how was the first date?
It was awesome. I met him at his work, around the time of his break. I went home from there alone, with my motorized wheelchair and adapted buses here in the city. From there, we went to a bakery near his work; we chilled, talked and got to know each other beyond what we had already talked about through the app, just firming up the feeling that we already had for each other.
How do you see the issue of accessibility in Brazil for people with disabilities, in the mall, restaurant, cinema, etc.?
I am a person who, outside the pandemic, usually goes to the malls in the city. Because Florianópolis is a tourist city, there is wonderful accessibility at these points. Cinemas are a bit more complicated, since I only went to establishments where the place for a wheelchair user is very far ahead, almost having a stiff neck when looking at the screen, and to access any other seat it is necessary to climb the stairs. In Concórdia (SC), where I was born, it is much more difficult to go out into the street. Most of the streets are still cobbled, which makes it difficult to walk with my motorized wheelchair, and it is also a city with many hills. Some buildings of commercial establishments use the excuse that it is too old to have any kind of accessibility, and others simply did not think about the possible customers with disabilities who could come in to buy something. So, yes, many things have already changed, there are extremely accessible places, but they don’t think much about how the disabled person will get there, like all the sidewalks we pass along the way, all the buses we will need to take, etc. It is not much a question of which place is accessible or not, but the entire route and the entire city to be adapted for its disabled population.
And, in your opinion, what does the LGBT community need to do for people with disabilities?
More accessible LGBT bars and clubs, relationship apps have accessibility for the deaf and/or blind, promote debates among LGBT people with disabilities to deconstruct some fetish issues or to think that we don’t have sex with other people, etc.
You fight with two flags, PWD and LGBT. Do the causes come together or is there prejudice between them?
Yes. It is difficult for a great part of the activist movement of people with disabilities to be made by the relatives of these people, who may have some other prejudice, such as against LGBT, for example. In the meantime, the LGBT movement is still very much centered on the standard, white, cisgender and non-disable gay people.
What are your dreams?
My biggest dream is to succeed in the careers of writer and youtuber. I already launched a book, called “Destino Fatal”, which is a fanfic of the films “Final Destination”. I recognize that I need to make videos for my YouTube channel again for it to work. I also really want to go back to my singing lessons, and maybe throw the songs I’ve been writing for a long time into the world. All of this was stopped due to the pandemic, everyone at home. I’m a little ashamed to make my videos and train my voice. But they are certainly plans that I want to put into practice in 2021.