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The capixaba Vinícius Rezende Costa Freitas saw the amount of his Instagram followers increase by 267% in the last five days. While resting his 6′ 5″ and 95 kg body on one of the cardboard beds at Tokyo Olympic Village, the singer Anitta, in Western time zone, was scrolling her finger on the screen of her cell phone when she came across a photo of the beach volleyball player on Instagram. “I love beach volleyball”, Anitta raised the ball in a comment below the image, to which an opposing person energetically reacted with a slash: “He is from the valley[dos homossexuais]”. “He dates a man”, drew a third virtual passerby. ” “I love taking a walk in the valley”, the girl from Rio finished the round.
Still without the verified sign, the blue seal on social networks and no proposal for agency of the Mynd8 (the one who signed a contract with the volleyball player Douglas Souza), Vinícuis Freitas became the most wanted gay in the country.
Born in Vitória, Espirito Santo [Brazil], on June 5, 1995, the 26-year-old Gemini started playing volleyball at 12 years old of age. He migrated to the sands after receiving an invitation from his friend Fernando Sturaro. He was Brazilian U19 champion and called up for the U21 team, spending a period of training in Saquarema, a Brazilian municipality in the state of Rio de Janeiro, located in the Meso region of Baixadas Litorâneas, also known as Região dos Lagos.
Although he has invited Anitta to enjoy his company in Japan, any other relationship with the singer that is not friendship is the result of the reader’s imagination: Freitas is indeed dating a man and cultivates a monogamous relationship.
When Anitta made the famous comment, were you online?
I was not online. Due to the time difference, I was sleeping and when I woke up I had numerous messages and notifications. I think I arrived in Tokyo with approximately 9,200 followers and gained around 24,600 followers on Instagram.
Has any agency or brand already contacted you to advertise? Do you want to work as a digital influencer?
Not yet. I never intended to work as a digital influencer, so it’s something new to think about. I am open to think more about this idea!
And you are dating the doctor Rafael Helmer, right? Is it a monogamous relationship or does Anitta or another man stand a chance?
Yes, we’ve been dating for just over two years. We met through mutual friends. We have a monogamous relationship. The thing with Anitta is just small talk, because we admire her a lot as an artist. And a third person in our relationship is not in our interest.
Since when you’ve been openly gay?
Since I was 20 years old.
At that time, you were already playing professionally, right? How did the family react?
My family is very religious and didn’t react very well. I suffered a lot. But I hold on a lot in God and the sport to stay strong. They still don’t accept me, but they learned to respect me and give my space. It’s not how I wanted it, but it’s just what I need. I still live with them. It’s hard to expose myself, talk about my orientation, because everything that get exposed spills over to them. But I do it, because I am aware that it is a way to fight, and so I hope that, in the near future, people and families will change their mindset and so that no one will suffer anymore from this ingrained intolerance.
Have you ever felt guilty about being gay because of religion?
A lot! For many years. For us who grew up in the church, the process is very painful. And when I was able to see that God is different from religiosity, I was able to free myself from that weight. God loves us a lot and accepts us for who we are.
Do you still attend church? What religion do you practice?
I don’t consider myself religious, I don’t have a defined church, despite attending the Evangelical church. I’m looking for an inclusive church to exercise my faith. But I also don’t limit myself to knowing other segments of religion, I identify a lot with Kardecism as well.
And in sport, you being gay, how was and has been your relationship with colleagues and the general public?
I feel welcomed by all of them. Including my team, who played a key role from the beginning so that I could be myself and find the best of me.
You already have more than 20 titles in your career. Have you ever had the opportunity to participate in any LGBT tournament?
Not yet. I was recently invited to join the US gay league in indoor volleyball, but that’s not part of my plans at the moment.
Any unforgettable moments in your career?
I have had many unforgettable moments in my career, but one especially I will always remember. Once, competing on an Brazilian circuit stage, in a game worth a bronze medal, I was victim of homophobic attacks coming from a fan in the bleachers. Those noises affected me somehow. But thank God people mobilized to end what was happening. It is sad that we are still susceptible to these prejudiced attacks, but on the other hand I am hopeful, because in other times no one would reprimand this attitude.
Do you still live in Victoria? Is it a city where you feel safe, walking holding hands on the street with your boyfriend?
I live in Vitória and, despite being a city with many LGBTQIA+ and relatively safe, you can’t feel totally safe anywhere and show affectionate attitudes.
In recent days, you have become a big name for LGBT representation within the sport. Do you intend to take on the role of spokesperson for the category? Is being an activist part of your plans?
It’s a huge responsibility to represent people, and even a community. I didn’t think I could ever achieve that. But I do want to give a voice to people who identify with me and who face problems the same as mine or worse. We have to gain more space, respect and equality within society. And whatever I can do to cooperate with it, I will.
Trans people in sport is always an issue that comes with a lot of controversy. You have any thoughts about that?
I think that, if the competent bodies in this area analyzed and defined that they can play with people of their gender, this must be respected. Trans people needs to have space and opportunity within the sport and in any area they want.
About Tokyo, what are your impressions of the LGBT+ community in the country?
I think that during the Olympic Games, our union as a community has been very clear. I see everyone giving voice and strength in this moment when the eyes of the world are turned to whoever is here. I am very happy and hopeful for this.
And how do you evaluate the sport under the Bolsonaro government?
I really want to talk about it. I think there could be more encouragement and more thinking about public policies in sport to keep athletes competitive, provide more support, create more opportunities. Sport manages to repair a lot of damage in society and deserves special attention
In your point of view, what is urgently needed to fight LGBTphobia in Brazil?
I think the effectiveness and drafting of laws that protect us in cases of homophobia, in addition to education and social awareness.
You are already vaccinated, right? Returning to Brazil, what are your plans? Paris 2024 Olympic Games?
Yes, I am vaccinated with two doses of Pfizer. Returning from Tokyo, my plan is to resume competitions within the world circuit and Brazilian circuit with my new partner Luciano de Paula. I have many goals in my career and for sure Paris 2024 is the biggest one. After the Tokyo games, I will continue my preparations to fight for this spot.
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