Global Awareness recently had the opportunity to talk with Taina (they/them), a 25 year old au pair from Brazil about their experience as a member of the LGBTQ au pair community, how others can become more informed and what we can all do to be good allies. Here is what they told us:
When did you become an au pair?
This is my second time as an au pair. I was 19 years old the first time and lived in the NY suburbs (2016-2018) and stayed for two years there. Now I live in WA after returning to do the program again in 2022.
What is your own coming out experience?
My natural family didn’t have the best reaction since my family was conservative and religious. I found that acceptance with my host family back in 2016. I was nervous and scared, but my host family said, “we love you as you are and you don’t need to pretend to be anything but who you are.” It was beautiful. After that I felt comfortable to be myself and I went to the gay parade in NY. I posted a picture of me there in Instagram and came out to more friends and I found a lot of support. The support from the host family in NY and here in WA is beautiful. During my interview the next time as an au pair, I told the host families and asked if they were comfortable having a queer au pair. My family made me feel welcomed and comfortable when I revealed this.
What are some of the myths you think exist for what or who in au pair should be?
This is a personal experience, but when you see pictures of au pairs, they tend to be feminine stereotypes. I expect nails done, long hair and a stereotype. Au pairs are all different and so more au pairs making themselves seen and heard will show the differences. Gay au pairs and black and brown au pairs should all put themselves out there to represent.
Do you feel your sexual orientation has affected the way people in the Au Pair community treat you?
No, not at all. The only thing is when I’m in a group and most are cis gender, they might not get me 100%, but in general no. People in our community treat me just the same.
Are you a member of any LGBTQ groups back home and if so what did they do that made you feel most supported?
I’m not part of any groups in Brazil that have support meetings, but most of my friends are part of the community, so having friends who understand how life is for us gives me my support. My friends are super gay! 😉
Who are your hero’s and sheroes?
Elliot Page who a few years ago was brave enough to come out publicly as a lesbian and he’s now out as a transgender man. I look up to him a lot.
What are three easy things a family can do once they find out that their au pair is a member of the LGBTQ community?
Explain and teach the kids that people are all different. Stay informed. Ask for pronouns.
How can a community counselor support members of the LGBTQ community in cluster events or group activities?
If there are things happening in the area, let us know – pride events, for example. Highlighting supportive communities in the area that they could be a part of would also help.
What are your thoughts about how to support a host child who is questioning their identity?
As an au pair, do the same thing as a host family would. Research, stay informed and support that child the best you can.
What are the terms or phrases that people should use or lose?
People saying “that’s so gay” is not ok. “You drive like a girl” is just sexist, so lose that too.
How can the general public best be allies to the LGBTQ community?
If people are well aware of the fact that we in a society exist as a minority and have to go through some uncomfortable situations – a good ally would be one who is aware of what we go through and help in the fight against homophobia. Also, know what the letters mean and understand the differences. Ask about pronouns and don’t say, “I’m confused.” People being informed is a great help.
What are the best resources to find the businesses in the community that support the LGBTQ community?
I watch for the pride flags. I see that and I feel safe.
What are other books movies and online resources you recommend for people who want to learn more?
I like to look for people on social media that are like me – lots of people on TicTok represent. “Love, Simon “is an amazing movie too. I look for profiles on instagram to follow for people to share their stories. I got my first chest binder, for example, after seeing examples on TicTok. I’m happy to help if any want to know more about that.
What do you do for fun?
Bingo every Wednesday with my extended family! One of my host aunt’s is my age and we go weekly to this and then we karaoke after. It’s a blast!
(Taina, Brazil – L; Nicol, Colombia – R)
Have a question for Taina? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will anonymously get your question answered. Watch this blog post for that Q&A.