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Brazilian athlete goes viral after exposing alleged homophobic attacks

Brazilian athlete goes viral after exposing alleged homophobic attacks

Anderson Melo via Instagram
Instagram (@andersonmelo92)

Anderson Melo has filed a police report alleging that he was attacked by attendees yelling out homophobic remarks during a match.

simbernardo

Over the weekend, Anderson Melo — an out, gay, professional beach volleyball player in Brazil — shared a heartbreaking Instagram post sharing his experiences of being allegedly attacked by a group of attendees who yelled out homophobic remarks at him during a match taking place on Thursday, Mar. 14.

Melo shared an Instagram carousel with a black-and-white picture of him sitting down and reflecting on what he had just experienced. The post also featured six videos (recorded as camera footage from the match) where a group of loud attendees can be heard shouting homophobic remarks at Melo.

In the videos shared via Instagram, attendees from the audience are heard shouting things directed at Melo in Portuguese (Brazil’s official language). Those alleged homophobic remarks included calling Melo the f-word, questioning if he’s a woman or a man, claiming that he wears female panties, and saying that he’s very feminine and the equivalent of the English word “s*ssy.”

From one video to the next, Melo is seen looking back and trying to identify who was shouting out those things at him. Nonetheless, those attendees seemed to keep shouting those remarks, and their alleged voices were captured in six separate videos. The shared videos also exposed how, when the opposite team scored a point, these audience members are heard cheering that the “f-word” was losing the match. In the end, Melo and his match partner, Lyan, did lose the match 0-2 to the competing duo Fabiano and Luizão.

Melo wrote an emotional and powerful message in the caption of his Instagram post. “I don’t know if people will read my entire caption given that I’m not a world-renowned athlete,” he wrote in Portuguese. “I’m not sure I’ll be heard in the way I’d like to be. But I just know that I’m a grounded [person]. And, for the first time [in my life], they took away my smile and my words. But I’ll try.”

“I took time to write this because I needed to digest what happened in that court. In the environment I love the most, I suffered continuous homophobic attacks. And, for the first time in my life, I [wasn’t able to] react. I couldn’t believe what was happening, and I kept remembering my mother — how scared she was to see me suffer because of being gay. Unfortunately, she wasn’t here to protect me, and no one else [either].”

According to CNN Brasil, Melo’s mother passed away in August 2023. The athlete wrote that he’s very much still mourning her loss, which made this situation even worse. “I felt completely disturbed. I don’t understand why people were doing that,” he continued in the caption. “An environment made for people to appreciate athletes and cheer for their favorites, of course… but not necessarily for them to try to belittle, swear, debunk, or ridicule someone. So I lost the game, but I didn’t lose my strength to come here and share with you all an explicit crime.”

For context, according to Brazilian law, it is illegal to attack a person using homophobic remarks. Similar laws have been created for attacks based on a victim’s gender, race, and religion, to name a few.

“I’ve filed the police report but I still don’t know what my next steps are,” Melo wrote in the caption. “But, certainly, the first [thing to do after] the police station is to get myself together as an athlete and as a citizen, and to be proud of the son that my mother raised with so much love.”

He concluded, “I take a lot of pride in being who I am, the way I am. And just like me, everyone has the right to be respected. This matter should not be left in vain. I ask for help from local authorities, the [Brazilian Volleyball Confederation], my fans, and my friends so that this isn’t repeated with anyone else. May God and my mother bless me so that this nightmare doesn’t last so many nights and so many days.”

Fortunately, even though Melo isn’t (as he described) a world-renowned player, his emotional Instagram post went viral and started to reach various high-profile Brazilian celebrities, athletes, journalists, activists, and organizations who are amplifying his experience and calling out this situation.

On Sunday, Mar. 17, all professional beach volleyball players with matches set for that day entered the court with signs that read, “Homophobia is a crime.”

Brazilian pop star Anitta commented on Melo’s post, “May they be punished. I hope you feel embraced.” Sasha Meneghel, a successful model (and daughter to legendary TV host Xuxa) wrote, “This is absurd! I’m speechless with these videos.” Sports news anchor Fernanda Gentil commented, “Huge absurd!!! May they be punished!!!”

We hope that Melo is comforted by this wave of love and support being sent his way. A lot of LGBTQ+ people have similar experiences in the world of sports, and it’s a shame that this could still be happening in professional environments with grown adults.

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Bernardo Sim

Editor

Bernardo Sim experiences and explains queer multiverses. Born in Brazil, he currently lives in South Florida.

Bernardo Sim experiences and explains queer multiverses. Born in Brazil, he currently lives in South Florida.