Marcos Costa

Photographer
L'ART D'ALLIBERAR-SE
Location: Barcelona
Nationality: España
Biography: I am a photojournalist based in Barcelona. Graduated in audiovisual and multimedia communication and photojournalism.
Public Story
L'ART D'ALLIBERAR-SE
Copyright Marcos Costa 2022
Updated Jul 2021
Location Barcelona, Spain
Topics Arts, Arts & Entertainment, Community, Culture stories, Discrimination, Documentary, Freedom, Gender, Immigration, Migration, Photography, Photojournalism, Racism

THE ART OF FREEING ONSELF

GERALD AND HIS PROCESS OF INTEGRATION THROUGH ART


He was only 21 years old when Gerald left behind everything he had ever known and embarked on the most important journey of his life. His fears and insecurities did not stop him from wanting to cross the Atlantic Ocean and reach Europe. He was totally convinced. The day had come to start writing his own destiny.                   
CHAPTER I: A LONG DISTANCE TRIP                  
For Gerald's parents, it wasn't unusual. "They accepted it. For them it was the normal path. It was the logical step." Their son wanted to follow in the footsteps of his siblings. They had it normalized. Like them, young Martinicans had three options: "either you found what you wanted to study there, or you went to work, or you went abroad".

Martinique is a volcanic island in the Caribbean. It is smaller than the island of Mallorca. Its population, mostly catholic, has experienced numerous eruptions of Mount Pelée. The last one was in 1902 and caused the destruction of the old capital of the region. For this reason it has moved to Fort de France, a coastal town located in the center of the island and protected from the crater by 80km of the Carbet mountains.

Gerald had a happy childhood. He got along well with his family although, with the female figures - his mother and sister - he always had a special connection. Still, there was one aspect that no one knew about. He was afraid to be. And he had no choice but to withdraw into himself and go unnoticed. Like one time when he went to a neighbor's house, a friend of his father's, and he could hear that "he didn't want faggots in his family. That if he did he would kick him out of his house."
The craving burned inside him. He was tired. He wanted to leave the Martinique where he was born. He wanted to get some fresh air. He wanted to travel. He wanted to know and get to know himself. He wanted to "experience what he had inside".
CHAPTER II: AN INHOSPITABLE PLACE
Like all roads, his was not easy either. He landed in a city in the east of France called Nancy. It had a cold, closed character with racist overtones. "It was quite a shock" compared to Martinique. There, people greeted him as he passed. Here, he was alone. He began his studies in informatics. Those for which he left home. But he ended up losing interest because he realized that sitting in front of a computer for eight hours during the day was not for him. "It was such a shock on a social and emotional level" that he wasn't ready to meet guys or hang out in the gay bars. He would have to wait for a whole year.
Just as he left Martinique for Nancy, he left Nancy for Paris. He wanted to get to know the "metropolitan France", together with his brothers - who had been living there for a few years.
In the Parisian capital he began his professional career as a dancer. Although he had already learned all the choreographies of Michael and Janet Jackson as a child, he wanted to take a step forward. It was at that time that he started to meet guys from class and through the internet. It was then that his sexual awakening began.

Creole is a language spoken throughout the Caribbean. But, depending on the colonies, it has some influences or others. It is a language created by the slaves so that the colonists could not understand them. For a time, it could not be spoken outside the home. "The same thing happened as with Catalan". Today, as Martinique belongs to France, it is not officially recognized but, for me, "it is my native language",  
CHAPTER III: A FORGOTTEN PASSION
As a child, Gerald didn't have much of a connection with his father. Their interests were totally disparate. One liked mechanics and soccer, the other was interested in cooking and dancing. They had nothing in common. Except one: sewing. In her family, the person who sewed was her father. He always made her mother's dresses and skirts. When he started making patterns and sewing, Gerald would stand by and watch. To watch carefully. Her passion for sewing must have come from those few moments they shared together.
It wasn't until days before her wedding to David - to whom he has been married for four years - that he made bow ties that would stand out from the rest. In the end she sewed "two for each of them and one for each dog". During the celebration, they caused a furor among the guests. From then on, his friends began to ask him for bow ties. More and more. That's how the Pink Monkey clothing brand was born.
Gerald's goal —with his clothing brand— is to give it back its true essence. "I think in this society, to normativize everything, we've been put into a binary system. It's not women's clothes and men's clothes. It's clothes: a piece of fabric that has been sewn together."

"I don't have any finished studies. I only have the high school degree. I couldn't teach in a high school." Academic training opens doors for you, but, in art, especially in dance, the most important thing is to have talent. "If you're good, you're good.
CHAPTER IV: A NEW COURSE
Fed up. I was fed up with Paris. He wanted to look for another place to live. His friends spoke highly of Canada. Some of them lived there and sold it to him very well. Especially with dancing. They were doing very well. Her destination, however, was far away from that country.
One morning he received an email. There was a school in Barcelona that was looking for people —Europeans— to learn Spanish and study professional dance. All the plans that had been made began to wobble because of the appearance of this new path in Gerald's life.
Everything went very fast. The email. The nerves. The auditions. The fears. The decision. When he returned to France -from the auditions in Barcelona- he intended to take his things and go back to Barcelona.
At least for a long period of time.
CHAPTER V: A PERFECT EVENT
It was only a few hours before five o'clock in the afternoon and Gerald's nerves were beginning to show in his demeanor. His friend Ruben's apartment was a hustle and bustle of people coming and going. The sound of heels clicking on the parquet floor of the dining room marked the time remaining for the presentation of his clothing brand.
A mirror leaning against one of the walls presided over the room. It had a heavy, robust and sincere look. Through it one could breathe an atmosphere of community that flooded every nook and cranny of the room.
It was time. Everyone had their suit, their makeup, their hairstyle. And, little by little, the apartment regained its usual silence. The stairs were uneven and covered by a thin layer of light coming in through the windows. Walking down them in six-inch heels could be considered a risky sport.

The Madame Jasmine's bar was waiting for them when a lady, in her seventies, passed them as she looked them up and down.
-Are you artists? -she asked intrigued.
Empowerment would be something like this.

Two rounds later, everyone took their places. The cameras were already rolling when there was a deafening silence. Suddenly, a voice came out of the loudspeaker.
-"The show is about to start," he shouted.
Jimmy James' voice provoked a wave of shouts, cheers and applause that filled the entire Rambla del Raval. It was at that moment that Gerald shed the nerves that had accompanied him all day and began to enjoy himself like a child.
CHAPTER VI: A NEW BIRTH
Geri Lavatza -Geri is the short of Gerald and Lavatza comes from Lavazza coffee capsules- was born a few years ago, in Barcelona. It was a dark night. Gerald was invited to a friend's Drag party to perform as a farewell - he was soon to move to the UK. That night, on stage, Geri shone like never before. It was the first time she had ever performed Drag. But not the last, far from it. It was at that moment that she realized that this was her thing. From then on, the nights in Barcelona stopped being so dark. But just as it takes a butterfly a few days to emerge from the chrysalis, Geri was not born overnight. Many years had to pass before she showed herself to society. A lifetime, literally.

Gerald began to explore his feminine side as a child. As if it were a game. He started borrowing his sister's clothes when no one was home. He always left them folded and in place. As if nothing had happened. It was a secret. His secret. But his sister could notice it. She knew it was him who took the clothes on the sly.
As a child, he always explored that part of him that he didn't know, without asking himself why. Now, looking back, he understands the process he went through. Like many other people, he considers himself a gender fluid person. He doesn't feel totally male or totally female because he "had both inside".  
CHAPTER VII: A CHOSEN FAMILY
Para Gerald, PLUMA es una familia. Son amigos. Son compañeros de trabajo. Son sus hermanas. Aquellas a las que acudir cuando necesitas ayuda. Te aceptan tal y como eres. “En ningún momento me sentí desplazada por ser negra”.
Se conocieron hace tres años, en una fiesta que organizaron sobre las Spice Girls. En aquel entonces no había ni una sola Drag negra en Barcelona y, en consecuencia, Geri fue la candidata perfecta. Aún así, tuvo que ganarse el puesto demostrando que tenia talento. Le dieron una oportunidad y la supo aprovechar. Des de aquella fiesta, no ha parado de hacer shows por Barcelona. “Estoy encantada. Destrozada pero contenta”.
CHAPTER VIII: A FUTURE TO COME
It happened from one day to the next. The world stopped dead in its tracks. The people of Barcelona locked themselves in their homes and the venues where Geri used to perform were deserted. Silent. The COVID-19 pandemic was here to stay. At least for quite a long time. Gerald went from being busy to having nothing to do all day. And with him, the whole city.

That silence and calm helped Gerald to put his life in order. To project himself into the future. To set goals that would motivate him. Pink Monkey - the genderless clothing brand - and drag were at the top of that list.
He had so many artistic facets that it was not easy for her to visualize herself in the future. Still, he didn't see it as an impediment but as an opportunity. He had absolute freedom to choose the direction he was most passionate about.                                                   
   

L'ART D'ALLIBERAR-SE

GERALD I EL SEU PROCÉS D'INTEGRACIÓ A TRAVÉS DE L'ART


Solament tenia vint-i-un anys quan Gerald va deixar enrere tot el que havia conegut fins aquell llavors i va emprendre el viatge més important de la seva vida. Les seves pors i inseguretats no li van frenar a voler creuar l'oceà Atlàntic i arribar a Europa. Estava totalment convençut. Havia arribat el dia de començar a escriure el seu propi destí.
CAPÍTOL I: UN VIATGE DE LLARGA DISTÀNCIA    
Per als pares del Gerald no va ser gens rar. "Ho van acceptar. Per a ells era el camí normal. Era el pas lògic". El seu fill volia seguir els passos dels seus germans. Ho tenien normalitzat. Igual que ells, els joves martiniquesos tenien tres opcions: "o trobaves el que volies estudiar allà, o et posaves a treballar, o te n'anaves fora".

Martinica és una illa volcànica afrancesada del Carib. La seva grandària és menor que el de l'illa de Mallorca. La seva població, majoritàriament catòlica, ha viscut nombroses erupcions de la muntanya Pelée. L'última va ser l'any 1902 i va provocar la destrucció de l'antiga capital de la regió. Per aquesta raó s'ha traslladat a Fort de France, una ciutat costanera situada en el centre de l'illa i protegida del cràter pels 80km que ocupen les muntanyes de Carbet.

El Gerald va tenir una infància feliç. Es portava bé amb la seva família encara que, amb les figures femenines —la seva mare i la seva germana— sempre va tenir una especial connexió. Així i tot, hi havia un aspecte que no coneixia ningú. Tenia por de ser. I no tènia més opció que tancar-se en si mateix i passar desapercebut. Com una vegada que va anar a casa d'un veí, amic del seu pare i va poder sentir que "no volia marietes en la seva família. Que si fos així el faria fora de la seva casa". L'ànsia li cremava per dins. Estava cansat. Tenia guanyes de sortir de la Martinica que ho va veure néixer. Volia airejar-se. Volia viatjar. Volia conèixer i conèixer-se. Volia "experimentar el que tenia per dins".
CAPÍTOL II: UN LLOC INHÒSPIT
Com tots els camins, el seu tampoc va ser fàcil. Va aterrar en una ciutat situada a l'est de França anomenada Nancy. Tènia un caràcter fred, tancat i amb tints racistes. "Va ser un xoc bastant gran" en comparació amb Martinica. Allí la gent saludava en passar. Aquí, estava sol. Va començar els seus estudis d'informàtica. Aquells pels quals se'n va anar de la seva casa. Però va acabar perdent l'interès perquè es va adonar que estar assegut davant d'un ordinador vuit hores durant el dia no era per a ell. "Va ser un xoc tan gran en l'àmbit social i emocional" que no va estar preparat per a conèixer nois ni per a freqüentar bars d'ambient. Hauria d'esperar fins a un any sencer.
Tal com se'n va anar de Martinica per a anar a Nancy, se'n va anar de Nancy per a anar a París. Volia conèixer la "França metropolitana", al costat dels seus germans —que cap a uns quants anys que estaven vivint allí—.
En la capital parisenca va començar la seva trajectòria professional com a ballarí. Encara que ja de petit s'aprenia totes les coreografies de Michael i Janet Jackson, volia fer un pas cap endavant. Va ser en aquells dies quan va començar a conèixer a nois de classe i a través d'internet. Va ser en aquells dies quan va començar el seu despertar sexual.

El Crioll és un idioma que es parla en tot el Carib. Però, segons les colònies, té unes influències o altres. És un idioma que van crear els esclaus perquè els colons no els poguessin entendre.
Durant una època no es podia parlar-ho fora de casa. "Va passar el mateix que amb el català". Actualment, com Martinica pertany a França, no està reconegut oficialment, però, per a mi, "és la meva llengua nativa".
CAPÍTOL III: UNA PASSIÓ OBLIDADA
De petit, el Gerald no tènia molta connexió amb el seu pare. Els seus interessos eren totalment dispars. A un li agradava la mecànica i el futbol, a l'altre li interessava la cuina i el ball. No tenien aspectes en comú. Excepte un: la costura. En la seva família, la persona que cosia era el seu pare. Sempre li cap als vestits i les faldilles a la seva mare. Quan ell es posava a fer els patrons i a cosir, el Gerald es quedava a mirar. A observar amb atenció. La seva passió per la costura li havia de venir d'aquests pocs moments que compartien junts.No va ser fins a dies abans de les seves noces amb David —amb qui fa quatre anys que es van casar— que va confeccionar uns corbatins que destaquessin de les altres. Al final va cosir "dos per a cadascun i una per a cada gos". Durant la celebració, van causar furor entre els convidats. A partir de llavors, els seus amics, li van començar a demanar corbatins. Cada vegada més. Així va ser com va sorgir la marca de roba Pink Monkey. L'objectiu del Gerald —amb la seva marca de roba— és tornar a donar-li la seva veritable essència. "Crec que en aquesta societat, per a normativitzar tot, ens han posat en un sistema binari. No és roba de dona i roba d'home. És roba: un tros de tela que s'ha cosit".

"Estudis acabats no tinc cap. Només tinc el batxillerat. Jo no podria ensenyar en un institut". La formació acadèmica t'obre portes, però, en l'art, sobretot en el ball, el més important és tenir talent. "Si ets bo, ets bo".
CAPÍTOL IV: UN NOU RUMB
Fart. Estava fart de París. Volia buscar un altre lloc on viure. Amics seus li van parlar molt bé del Canadà. Alguns d'ells estaven vivint allí i li ho estaven venent molt bé. Sobretot amb el tema del ball. Els funcionava molt bé. El seu destí, en canvi, es trobava molt lluny d'aquest país.
Un matí li va arribar un correu. Hi havia una escola a Barcelona que buscava gent —europea— per a aprendre espanyol i cursar uns estudis professionals de ball. Tots els plans fets es van començar a trontollar per l'aparició d'aquest nou camí en la vida del Gerald.
Tot va ser molt ràpid. El correu. Els nervis. Les audicions. Les pors. La decisió. Quan va tornar a França —de les proves fetes a Barcelona— tènia la intenció d'agafar les seves coses i anar-se'n de tornada a Barcelona.Almenys per un llarg període de temps.
CAPÍTOL V: UN ESDEVENIMENT PERFECTE
Faltaven poques hores per a les cinc de la tarda i els nervis començaven a fer-se visibles en el comportament de *Gerald. El pis del seu amic Rubén era un anar i venir de gent. El so dels talons colpejant el parquet del menjador indicava el temps que quedava per a la presentació de la seva marca de roba.
Un mirall recolzat sobre una de les parets presidia la sala. Tenia un aspecte pesat, robust i sincer. A través d'ell es podia respirar un ambient de comunitat que inundava tots els racons de l'estada.
Era l'hora. Tots tenien el seu vestit, el seu maquillatge, el seu pentinat. I, a poc a poc, el pis va recuperar el seu silenci habitual. Les escales eren irregulars i les cobria una fina capa de llum que entrava per les finestres. Baixar-les amb uns talons de quinze centímetres es podria considerar un esport de risc.

El bar d'ambient anomenat Madame Jasmine els estava esperant quan una senyora, d'uns setanta anys, es creua amb ells mentre els observava de dalt a baix. —Que sou artistes? —va preguntar intrigada. L'apoderament seria alguna cosa semblant a això. Dues rondes més tard, tots es van posar en els seus llocs. Les càmeres ja gravaven quan es va fer un silenci eixordador. De sobte, una veu va sortir de l'altaveu.
—"The show is about to start" —va cridar.
La veu de Jimmy James va provocar una ona de crits i aplaudiments que van omplir tota la rambla del Raval. Va ser en aquest moment quan el Gerald es va despullar dels nervis que l'havien acompanyat durant tot el dia i va començar a gaudir com un nen.
CAPÍTOL VI: UN NOU NAIXEMENT
Geri Lavatza —Geri és el diminutiu de Gerald i Lavatza ve de les càpsules de cafè Lavazza— va néixer fa pocs anys, a Barcelona. Era una nit fosca. El Gerald va ser convidat a una festa Drag d'un amic perquè actués, a manera de comiat —ben aviat s'anava a viure al Regne Unit—. Aquella nit, sobre l'escenari, Geri va brillar com mai ho havia fet. Va ser la primera vegada que feia Drag. Però no l'última, ni de bon tros. Va ser en aquell moment quan es va adonar que allò era el seu. Des d'aquell moment, les nits a Barcelona van deixar de ser tan fosques. Però, igual que la papallona triga uns dies a sortir de la crisàlide, Geri tampoc va néixer de la nit al dia. Van haver de passar molts anys abans de mostrar-se a la societat. Tota una vida, literalment.

Gerald va començar a explorar el seu costat femení des de petit. Com si es tractés d'un joc. Va començar per posar-se la roba de la seva germana quan no hi havia ningú a casa. Sempre la deixava doblegada i en el seu lloc. Com si no hi hagués passat res. Era un secret. El seu secret. Però la seva germana ho notava. Sàvia que era ell qui agafava la roba d'amagat.
De petit sempre va explorar aquesta part d'ell que no coneixia, sense preguntar-se molt bé el perquè. Ara, tirant la vista enrere, entén el procés pel qual va passar. Com moltes altres persones, es considera una persona de gènere fluid. No se sent totalment home ni tampoc totalment dona perquè "tenia els dos dins seu".
CAPÍTOL VII: UNA FAMÍLIA ESCOLLIDA
Per a Gerald, PLUMA és una família. Són amics. Són companys de treball. Són les seves germanes. Aquelles a les quals acudir quan necessites ajuda. T'accepten tal com ets. "En cap moment em vaig sentir desplaçada per ser negra".
Es van conèixer fa tres anys, en una festa que van organitzar sobre les Spice Girls. En aquells dies no hi havia ni una sola Drag negra a Barcelona i, en conseqüència, Geri va ser la candidata perfecta. Tot i això, va haver de guanyar-se el lloc demostrant que tenia talent.
Li van donar una oportunitat i la va saber aprofitar. Des d'aquella festa, no ha parat de fer espectacles per Barcelona. "Estic encantada. Destrossada però contenta".
CAPÍTOL VIII: UN FUTUR PER VENIR
Va passar d'un dia a un altre. El món es va parar en sec. La gent de Barcelona es va tancar a les seves cases i els locals on Geri solia actuar es van quedar deserts. En silenci. La pandèmia de la COVID-19 havia arribat per a quedar-se. Almenys durant un temps bastant llarg. El Gerald va passar d'estar ocupat a no tenir res a fer en tot el dia. I amb ell, la ciutat sencera.

Aquest silenci i aquesta calma va ajudar al Gerald a posar ordre en la seva vida. A projectar-se en el futur. A marcar-se uns objectius que li motivessin. Pink Monkey —la marca de roba sense gènere— i el Drag encapçalaven aquesta llista.
Tenia tantes facetes artístiques que no li va resultar fàcil visualitzar-se en un futur. Tot i això, no ho va veure com un impediment sinó com una oportunitat. Tènia absoluta llibertat per a triar la direcció que més l'apassionés.
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