Handball team made up of gays and lesbians packs dreams and organizes the Cup

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As striker or central, Bruno Costa was the owner of the youth handball team in São José dos Campos (110 km from São Paulo). With the dream of joining the Brazilian national team, the athlete saw his move to the junior category, when he turned 18, as a mere formality.

There were no problems with his teammates. But with him, yes.

“On the court, I’ve always been a professional. Outside, I live my life without worrying about other opinions. When I got to the juniors, there was a barrier with the coaching staff. They said that if I wanted to continue, I would have to compete for my spot with five I understood it to be a way of leaving myself out of the corner,” he says, now 28 years old.

Bruno is a homosexual and never wanted to hide his orientation. To continue in the sport, he went to Jacareí (80 km from São Paulo). Suffered shoulder and ankle injuries and withdrew. But the desire to play handball never passed away. He rediscovered the sport thanks to Fadas, the first team in São Paulo formed for the LGBTQIA+ community.

Once a week, they train on a rented court in Vila Mariana, in the south of São Paulo. They practice for the friendlies that appear and the invitations to play tournaments in other states. The objective is the Queer Cup, a competition to be organized by them in São Paulo next year. It should have been 2020 or 2021, but the Covid-19 pandemic didn’t allow it.

“We verified the existence of a repressed demand of people fanatical about handball, wanting to play. Like football, handball has a stigma of prejudice for being a violent sport, of contact”, explains lawyer Rogério Dervanosk, 32, creator of the Fairies.

The collective is part of an expanding movement: that of team sports aimed at gay and lesbian people.

“It’s two letters, the G [de gays] eo L [de lésbicas]. The others are missing. We have football, volleyball and handball tournaments,” he adds. He himself was a player for PampaCats, a team from Rio Grande do Sul with athletes in these three sports.

Dervanosk was one of the organizers of the first Queer Cup, in 2018, a handball competition made for the LGBTQIA+ public. In the same year, he moved to São Paulo and decided to create a handball team. He created a banner and spread it on Instagram. He thought that few would introduce themselves. In his own words, “messages rained.”

Fadas is composed of 28 players who pay monthly fees to keep the team running. This means paying court, uniform, balls and allowance for the coaching staff. There is a waiting group of 40 people. When a “holder” advises that he cannot go, the reservations are notified.

“The idea of ​​inclusion is long overdue. These are people who in other spaces were left out for having a different orientation. Here we recognize each other. The most important thing is to have fun”, analyzes physician Matheus Giannini, 30. Accustomed to Acting in handball since the age of 10, he was an athlete for Legendários, a collective LGBTQIA+ in Rio de Janeiro. When he moved to São Paulo in 2019, he found Fadas.

They have real fun in training. Laughter is interspersed with cheers of encouragement and joy when a goal happens or one of the two goalkeepers (the only women in the squad) makes a difficult save.

“Thank God that [equipes LGBTQIA+] they’re expanding because it’s been hidden for a long time. Before it was oppressor. Nobody talked openly about it. Here is a place where we can be who we are, without fear of reprisals or of suffering any kind of prejudice. It’s welcoming to be in a sport that we love so much”, celebrates data engineer Luciana Bertolotto, 31, one of the goalkeepers.

The explanation for acting in this position in handball is the same given so often in football. “It’s the place that nobody wants. Goalkeeper or goalkeeper always play”, he adds.

Nobody wants them is something Fairy players have experienced or witnessed. Sometimes not overtly. It can happen in matches, in individual appointments. There are those who have heard phrases in public, in front of other people, the aggressor would not have the courage to say.

“I’ve heard it, yes. It doesn’t affect me. I think it says more about the other person than about myself,” says Giannini.

Fairies usually make friendlies not only within the community but also against rivals defined by the expression “straight team”. There was never any problem in these clashes. But Dervanosk is amused to note that when his team is ahead on the scoreboard, the opponent behaves on court as if it were a World Cup final.

The technical level is another aspect that athletes like to emphasize. They have fun, form new circles of friends, but the Fairies also exist to compete and win.

Two players are part of a department created by the Brazilian Handball Confederation to encourage the inclusion of minorities. It is estimated that there are ten teams formed by the LGBTQIA+ community in the country. Less than the 60 in football, but, as those responsible are always saying, it is an expanding process.

Those organizing championships and collectives, such as Dervanosk, have heard several times the assertion that initiatives like this, exclusively for gays and lesbians, create bubbles instead of challenging prejudice. He may agree with principle, but not reality.

“It’s a matter of self-esteem. We want to break this bubble and have straights playing here, but we need this environment. There are people who see this as prejudice. We would be isolating and excluding ourselves. But society excluded us for a long time. we need to show this society that we play and play well. For that, we have our space, our place to speak,” he says.

“I’ve always played football my whole life. I was raised in a very hostile environment. This movement was created for us to be who we are. Not afraid to scream, to have a more effeminate voice, to be called ‘faggot’ or to listen terms that have always been used against gays to belittle us.”

Incorporating heterosexuals into the team and having Faerie players on other teams is a process, they believe. And it’s Bruno Costa’s ultimate goal. Because time may have passed, and he is no longer the juvenile of São José dos Campos. But the dream didn’t die.

“What I still want is to reach the Brazilian handball team.”

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