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“If Rotterdam is masculine, I'd say it is trans-masc.”

Interview; Lucía Lodi (she/they)

By; Isa Schulting (she/they)

I recently had the pleasure to interview Lucía Lodi (she/they) about her life and involvement within the Queer scene of Rotterdam. We met initially because of the collaboration for the Queer Sex Education workshop earlier this year! Enjoy some snippets of our conversation :)

I: How would you introduce yourself?

L: So of course this changes depending on the context. But my name is Lucia, some people also call me Lu, which is just the nickname short for Lucia. I identify as a non-binary trans femme with a good amount of fluidity, gender fluidity, both in identity, but also, especially in expression. I think that for me changes a lot. I'm Brazilian, and I identify strongly with the Latinx community, especially now that I live in the Netherlands, especially after immigrating. Yeah, I think that's mostly it. I work horeca and do workshops. I'm also studying to become a gender and sexuality counsellor.

I: From what I remember at the Queer Sex Ed presentation you also spoke some Dutch. Do you have any connection to the Netherlands?

L: No, so I immigrated to the Netherlands in 2014 and have been living here since. I can speak a good amount of Dutch actually, but it's not my first or second language. I say that I have two first languages, which are Brazilian Portuguese and English. I was raised kind of half and half in those countries, five years in the States, and the rest in Brazil. But as a really young child, I also learned how to read and write in English and through experiencing different cultures all that was easy for me to maintain it.

I: A good friend of mine here is Brazilian and I don't know much about Brazil except that I like eating tapioca.

L: Amazing yes. As for the Netherlands, I've lived kind of half and half between Utrecht and Rotterdam. I first came to Rotterdam, though I was already studying in Utrecht. Later, I moved to Utrecht where I stayed for four or five years. And then with the pandemic, me and my partner decided to move in together in Rotterdam. My current partner, with who I’ve been together for more than five years, was the one who opened the doors of the Queer scene here. I already was part of the Queer community of Utrecht for a long time and they really helped me in my journey, but I'd say that the Queer community of Rotterdam is really where I still feel most at home.

I: How was moving from Brazil an eye-opening experience?

L: I mean there were some things that I think immigrating, in general, will always be eye-opening in some ways because it's liberating. You come to a place where nobody knows you, you can reinvent yourself, and you can figure out what you want, and what you don't want. And in that sense, yeah, I always joke that I only found out I could be trans and a lesbian when I came to the Netherlands. I don't understand the rules of society, so it gave me a lot more freedom to explore and make up my own rules and make up my own identity. So in that sense, I think coming here really allowed me to explore a lot more. Which doesn't mean that the Netherlands is so tolerant.

I: In what sense does the Queer community of Rotterdam feel so comfortable?

L: I can relate when it comes to values and how things are done. Especially the cooperative aspects that I believe exist a lot in the Rotterdam Queer community, of course, this is generalizing and you can't speak for everyone, but most of the Queer collectives will work together instead of trying to compete with each other. And go to each other's events and enjoy each other's music or, at least try it and always be willing to help out.

I: Cute, yeah it shouldn’t be a competition.

L: No, exactly. And unfortunately, sometimes it really happens like that. But the origins of the Queer community of Rotterdam kind of all come from the same place. And it hasn't been that long ago. The Hangout 010. That was the first big, I could say Queer focused place for Queers in Rotterdam. And a lot of the community that exists now either will come from there. So for example, Klauw, a lot of the members did go to the Hangout back in the day. But also the people of Queer Rotterdam, the main organizers got together in 2018 through a call with Non, my current partner. And also one of the big initiators I think of the Queer scene in Rotterdam was the Gender Bender Queer party. You can really see things evolve from there. And I think it really was an amazing seed that I was able to witness. It didn't all go perfectly, but you could still see the seed and how it grew and how now you know, there's so much that you can do as a Queer person in Rotterdam, and so easy. Yeah, six years ago that wasn't the case. Eight years ago also not.

I: What type of Queer projects/collectives have you been involved with?

L: In Utrecht, I started the 2QT support group which stands for Queer Questioning Trans, not necessarily in that order. And it was a support group that I started at Savanna Bay, also a very big centre for Queers. It’s a feminist/Queer bookshop. The support group there basically in their office at the back of the bookstore and they were gentle enough to allow me to use it and really supported me in that. So I ran the support group there for years, like three years almost. Starting at the end of 2017 and I only stopped at the beginning of 2020 with the pandemic.

I: Is it a coincidence that QT sounds like cutie?

L: No, it's kind of on purpose. So it became a play on words of being 2QT and being cute. What happens before we leave is a round where I ask what was the cutest thing of the night. Because for me, also this play on words and the lightness of calling things cute also helps, allows us to talk about really heavy stuff sometimes - we can talk about trauma, about gatekeeping, how horrible and difficult life can be when you're trans or nonbinary. But we're able to make fun of it. We're able to laugh about things. We're able to exist in a light space where we acknowledge each other's neurodiversity. Cause there were a lot of neurodiverse people who came there as well. It was always very light and it kind of created a little community of its own and people became friends through it. And yeah, I'm completely full of memories of really amazing memories of that support group.

I: I get that impression from you! Super approachable and with a touch of humour.

L: Yeah. And that's really what my intention is because I do believe that that's also when it comes to something vulnerable, like talking about sexuality, talking about gender. That's what helps you be able to open up. That's what helps you. Be able to really ask vulnerable questions that you might not have the courage to ask at a different moment or in a different space.

L: Also, I'm the internal caretaker of Queer Rotterdam where I also lead the support group section, kind of, of my own support group, but I also tend to slightly supervise the other support groups that are happening. Roodkapje also has its own, I think queer community related to it, the artists and everything. And I guess I just know a lot of people. I know the people from the Queer Gym.

I: What is your understanding of or first interaction with the concepts of gender and/or sexuality?

L: I think I mostly came when I was younger. I was basically raised to be a man in Brazil, which has a lot of like Latin American machismo, even if it's softer than in other countries, which is what I hear, it's still very much of a macho culture, Which makes it hard. Being someone who was not a man, I failed at that a lot. I had a girlfriend's family tell my girlfriend that I wasn't man enough for her, which they were right <laugh>, it was not a nice comment, but the reality is they were correct. Later, studying feminism as someone who was interested in feminism because I wanted to be a "really good ally”, that's where a lot of realisation about gender came out. As for sexuality, been a thing for me since, I don't know, since I was 15. With my first girlfriend, we did talk about gender even though we didn't use those words, but we talked about gender roles especially and why these things have to be man and woman and bunch of things that now we look back and like, oh yeah, no, we've totally been non-binary if that where it existed back in 2001. A lot of the language wasn't there, so then how to describe your experience? I remember when I was 13 I told my therapist that I thought my life would be better as a girl, but the idea of trans-woman wasn't a thing. You had “travesti” in Brazil, now a reclaimed identity. They are very marginalized and especially back then. I think all of my major girlfriends were queer in some way.

I: What would you consider the ‘Queerest’ Dutch city?

L: Yeah, that's a funny question. I personally think it's Rotterdam. I think it has the most diversity when it comes to the queerness of like yeah you have a collective like Klauw, you have the Queer Rotterdam, you have others. And because it's non-competitive and they all help each other out a lot. The ideas of normativity that will come sometimes from having a very structured scene can sometimes really be dissipated. I don't know, I think like cities being Queer is less about the city and more about the people.

I: It’s also a more diverse city, including several communities and perspectives.

L: There's some diversity that also comes from there. The Hangout, which still exists, always had a lot of kids of colour that came from working-class backgrounds. And I think there's just a bit more of a structure to Queerness in Rotterdam, which is very collective. The ‘most’ Queer is always a funny question because 'most' implies that there's something. But from a personal perspective, it is the city that has more non-normative Queers or Queers that are happy pushing against normativity. I'm also biased cause I love Rotterdam.

I: Maybe a bit of an arbitrary question, but would you consider the city gendered?

L: I think in the past I've thought a bit about that but I'm not sure I feel like that anymore. I do think some cultures do pick up, like having elements that we consider gendered, but it also really comes from where you're from. Like in a Latin American perspective, most of Europe is quite feminine or at least the men tend to be more feminine and the woman tends to have more possibility to be more masculine. Dutch women tend to be taller, they have deep voices all things that for a Latin American would be considered gendered. But the reality of it is that I don't think it has, I don't think the city does.

I: I read a study about the masculine identity of Rotterdam, considering its working-class port industry and ‘rough’ architecture…

L: I think then in a context having to reinvent itself after the war, honestly a very trans experience. So if Rotterdam is masculine, I'd say it is trans-masc.

I: <laugh> This is gonna be my favourite quote. I guess we can consider the city a whole transformative, maybe non-binary space. Playground.

I: Okay. Not to keep you much longer. I'm interested in would you describe as home and how does it feel?

L: Home is where the heart is. It also means that it's complicated as an immigrant because yes, Rotterdam is my home. Rio is also my home sometimes. And how do you go from there? Yeah, home is a feeling above everything else about belonging. And I think especially this year I've been really carving a place for myself in Rotterdam and being more involved in the community and doing community work, making connections, making friends, getting professional connections as well. I'm starting to explore parts of me that I haven't been able to in a long time. A place that feels like home is a place where you can expand your being where you're not just this or that, but your full self can really start coming out. My friendships, my nerdiness, my artsiness, my everything can just really start finding places for it. And of course, I do live with my partner and I think we created very much a nice little home for us. It's very grounding. To develop, to bloom, to go and be.

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