To tell the next story, pages and pages would not be enough, as there are so many things, experiences, facets of the person I am about to introduce. And even with so many words, I probably wouldn’t be able to fully convey the extraordinary energy she emanates.
This is Glow.
As we sit down to chat, because I love earrings, I see immediately the ones she wears, absolutely original. And Glow explains to me that she made them with a 3D printer and a special biodegradable resin made from corn and sugar cane. She has already won me over.
She tells me that when I get to know her story, I will also understand how the idea and this art form came about.
Glow was born in Brazil, in São Paulo. Her best childhood memory is her grandmother’s farm, near a river, surrounded by nature, with no contact with the modern world. A memory that probably greatly influenced her current sensitivity to the environment.
With about 6/8 years, she starts to live alone with her mother, as her father leaves Brazil to work in Portugal and other countries.
Her parents opened some businesses, stores that sell magazines, books, but also small food products. Unfortunately, their various commercial attempts always ended in failure.
But it is precisely through books and illustrations that Glow has her first contact with art that immediately impresses her.
Her childhood will be in Brazil, but around the age of eleven she reaches her father, who meanwhile has another family in Portugal and will live with him, his new wife and daughter in Ribatejo.
It will not be an easy coexistence.
Glow tells me something that impresses me a lot, and in the course of our interview, she repeats it often. What impresses me most, actually, is that she says it with a smile and serenity.
She tells me that her parents are “emotionally independent” people, whereas she was an “emotionally dependent” person. She has always sought her parents’ approval, the classic “slap on the back” at her choices, a “good” said at the right time, but that often didn’t come.
A period of self-discovery also begins for Glow. She starts to question her gender identity. And she also starts to express this moment of discovery through a new way of being and presenting herself. But she has to deal with a very conservative environment, especially in a small village, where her own father, as a foreigner, was discriminated against.
Glow’s reaction will be to stop expressing herself as she would like, to try to protect herself.
Around the age of 15/16, she faced a new challenge: she decided to enroll in digital marketing and advertising university. She begins to get to know the marketing and audiovisual environment and begins to experiment with new forms of expression through images and sounds that become a new instrument for Glow and a new way of talking about herself.
During this period she also began to write poetry. She also starts to frequent the circle of poets in Santarém and one of her poems will also be chosen to be included in a book.
It’s a way for Glow to express her feelings, those feelings she learns too early to hide. She defines herself as a lonely child. But she doesn’t say this with bitterness or anger towards her parents. On the contrary. She explains that in the beginning there was anger, but now there is an understanding of what it was, that she understood that each of us is done her way and that her parents are independent and couldn’t give Glow the approval she needed. Then, at some point, she stopped and understood that the support she needed had to be sought from within herself.
A big change happens when Glow is sixteen. On the way home to her father and wife, she strikes up a conversation with the two that leads to a discussion. At this point, Glow asks to stop the car and goes down, in the middle of the road. They lived 40 km from Santarém and the way home was still quite long. Her father thought he would find her at home, but Glow will never go home. She is going to take refuge with a friend where she will live for a while.
It is during this period that Glow begins to question herself about her “Modus Operandi”, especially questions about how she really wanted to be seen by others, what was the image of herself that she really wanted to give.
At the end of high school, another change, this time dictated by the heart. In love with a boy, she follows him to Peniche where she works in a workshop. “I would never do that again,” she tells me. And she doesn’t talk about working in a garage, because work doesn’t scare her, but about moving to another city to follow someone, because choices always have to be made for oneself and not for others.
At this point, Glow realizes she needs a different environment, a bigger city in which she feels free to express herself. And that’s when she arrives in Lisbon, about seven years ago. And it’s here in Lisbon that she starts with many experiences, some of which are quite decisive for her future choices.
In the beginning, it’s working in a nightclub bar where Drag Queens shows take place. A discovery. Glow begins to be fascinated by this world and decides it might be just the way she needs to express herself. She decides to start doing little street shows. A real change for Glow which at the time still wore men’s clothing. But for these performances, she wears the role of a drag queen, a stage dress, a wig. And every day dressed like this, she walks between her house and the area where she performs her show.
And that path Glow remembers well, but most of all, she tells me, she remembers the humiliation she felt as she walked it, every day.
This phase of her life, Glow sees it as a moment of reflection. The work was extremely tiring, from 10 pm to 7 / 8 am to earn €25, per night and not per hour. But Glow tells me this gave her a new perspective on life. It also allowed her to have a first contact with the LGBT community (acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender, ed.).
Then it will be the turn of a job in a gay bar for a strictly male audience, where every night there was a “special theme” to follow. Glow makes a point of explaining to me how it worked because first impressions can be negative. And she confesses to me that she herself had a lot of prejudices about it. Once again she works at the bar. But every night she witnesses the routine of this place that impresses her a little at first, but then makes her think. Looking at the incoming audience, she understands how many people there are who need a “secret” place to express themselves freely, without being judged.
Glow starts to question herself about her personality, starts asking herself a lot of questions, she learns to be proud of her body and realizes that she doesn’t know anymore how much of Drag Queen Glow really is and how much she is just a character. Therefore, Glow leaves the role of Drag to think about it.
She leave for Spain, where she works at the reception of a hotel opened in an old convent.
In the meantime, she also starts recording podcasts about everyday issues that are often taboo.
And especially in this period she meets her father again.
For Glow, it is an important turning point. She explains to me that for all these years it was as if she couldn’t go on, precisely because that part of her life and her relationship with her father had been suspended. Seeing him, talking to him, for Glow was a way to close a cycle. She is no longer angry, she accepted them. Her parents simply cannot show their affection for her the way she would like. Glow remembers, for example, when, chosen from the cycle of poets in Santarém, her father did not come into the room to support her, but she knew he was happy for her. She sometimes talks with her mother by phone, but she hasn’t seen her in the last thirteen years. They want tat she is okay, and she knows it.
Glow is at the height of her artistic expression: she shoots videos on Instagram, she starts to take on a feminine style. With the arrival of the pandemic, she begins to feel more isolated. Until discovering a space in Lisbon for Voguing meetings. (In the 1920s in New York, the LGBT community found refuge in the so-called Ballrooms. Far beyond a simple party, it was and still is a welcoming space, a safe place where these people who daily lived on the margins of society could, at less for one night, feeling good about themself. The Voguing has its origins in the New York Ballrooms of the 1920s, having been created by the queer Latino and black communities of Harlem. They used the movement used by the models in the pages of Vogue, and also influenced by ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and gymnastic movements, ed.) And in these Lisbon environments, Glow also begins to discover dance, a new artistic expression.
And here is the Glow that we see now, a great woman, the result of all these experiences.
Today, she is also very dedicated to environmental issues and it is from this new dispute that the Glow Oficina is born, in which she is dedicated to creating sustainable art.
For Glow, art should be “waste free”, a totally sustainable art. She says that to reduce the impact on the planet we must be the first to change. And Glow tries to do it through its creations, with donated or used clothes, through new eating habits. But Glow’s art has many facets.
In her last house in Alfama, Glow starts with posters on various topics hanging on her porch. Her idea is to make her house a living art gallery. And she shows me the work inspired by the work of Linn da Quebrada (Brazilian artist) and her first performance dedicated to the myth of Lillith (the first woman, before Eve, born like Adam and not raised by his rib, ed). Through a traveling exhibition in her home, including paintings, videos and images and sounds, Glow tells that story.
But something is still missing. Glow buys a 3D printer and starts making objects with recyclable materials. And she goes back to writing poetry. Today, she tells me, she understood that none of her forms of expression, to keep herself free, can be a source of salary.
Now she sold everything, bought a camera to film her life, and sent in an application to volunteer in Italy. At the moment when you are reading her story, Glow is in Catania, where she is dedicated to social support for the people in difficult situations.
She has many projects, but she’s going to think about it day by day, maybe a performance that encompasses all her arts.
Before leaving, she tells me that it’s no use waiting for others to change, we’re the ones who change and it’s this change that counts. Only by our actions, we impact the society, much more than building a character on social media.
Today Glow tries to live in a lighter way, not expecting too much, not asking too much of herself, remaining proactive and continuing to tell her truth.