Growing up gay in Brazil was tough, according to Rodrigo Francisco, 43, who moved to Cork two years ago and said he is enjoying the more liberal attitude and culture that exists here.
Rodrigo is currently working at the Cork International Hotel as a kitchen porter, where he won an award for ‘Staff member of the month’ in December 2020.
“I really enjoy working there as part of the team, I feel part of the family, the work environment is good and the staff and bosses are amazing.”
Rodrigo is also an English student, perfecting his second language at one of the English schools in the city.
Originally from São Paulo, Brazil, Rodrigo said he was Brazilian by blood, but Irish by heart.
“I love my country and my people but I also like Ireland and my life here.”
The Brazilian said he had a difficult time growing up in Brazil as a gay man and said he had experiences as a young man he would like to forget.
“I suffered a lot in my country since my teenage years for being gay and unfortunately that is also a problem in my family. I was the victim of serious bullying and violence for being who I am during my whole life. I was afraid of dying because of that and I dón´t miss this kind of life at all.”
Rodrigo, who is living on the northside of the city, first came to Ireland in 2005 to visit his relatives in Tipperary.
“I started studying English when I was 10 years old. I fell in love with the language and after this, I got the chance to visit my family in Ireland in 2005. I visited Cork and though, someday I will move to this country and I am going to live in this town.”
Chatting about Cork, Rodrigo has much more positive sentiments to share.
“I am mad about Cork city. I do like the atmosphere here. The nature, parks, coffee shops, theatres, film festivals, food, libraries and mainly people and the cultural life are the things I enjoy the most here.
“I have loads of amazing memories in this town and also in the country. Some of them are when I worked as a volunteer in Cork Midsummer Festival and in the Pride week, singing with Sacred Harp Singers of Cork and also when I worked as a barman at Indiependence Music Festival and Electric Picnic.”
Comparing Cork to São Paulo, Rodrigo said people were more open-minded here.
"In my opinion, Cork people are unique. They are easygoing and I love the way they are. They look like Brazilians because they are happy, chatty and are always up for a laugh. What makes them special for me is that they try to talk to you for no reason, starting a random conversation talking about the weather for example and their Corkonian accent is really cute. I am mad about accents.”
The Brazilian also has a strong passion for the arts and has volunteered with the Cork Midsummer Festival in the past.
“I love storytelling, film and the arts.”
Rodrigo, who studied broadcasting at university level in Brazil, also worked as an amateur actor for eight years.
“I love acting. Even though I am older now, I would like to take it up as a hobby and do some theatre here in Cork.”
In his spare time, Rodrigo enjoys walking the city and visiting the city parks as well as a newfound love for rollerblading.
“I got chatting to some people who were rollerblading during the pandemic and I ended up buying a pair for myself. I love the freedom of rollerblading, I love the outdoors and it is very gentle exercise.”
go said he doesn’t miss Brazil at all and he has not been home to visit since moving. The Brazilian said he is very content here in Cork.
“There are a lot of things that keep me in Cork. The cultural life, the language, the people and my freedom.
“Everything I want is staying in this country and living in Cork for good. Everyone has dreams and I realised mine was living abroad and studying English. But I can also say that my biggest dream is staying in the country for the rest of my life, developing my English skills even more and trying a job as a production assistant in Cork.”