By Pujanee Galappaththi
This week, we spoke to a very familiar face in the fashion industry – Tymeron Huban Carvalho. Carvalho is a designer by profession and a model by passion. He was titled Asia’s Top Fashion Male Model of the Year in 2016, Mr. Sri Lanka Supranational in 2018, and Mr. Supranational Asia 2018.
As a proactive member of the local LGBTIQ community, Carvalho and his partner Stefan Andre Joachim have become somewhat of an “it” couple amongst Colombo’s high society.
We asked if there ever was a difference in treatment and/or acceptance as a model while being a visible member of the community, and he said: “Yes, definitely. I have been treated well as well as badly. I have been booked for jobs because of my identity as a person. Comparatively, there was more acceptance than hate. I have been through much more so these experiences will not make me any less.”
Carvalho believes it is not obligatory to reveal one’s sexual orientation. “A simple example is that not every heterosexual announces their orientation, nor are they compelled to tell their parents and families. So I don’t see the necessity. But if it’s a must and a person is comfortable saying it out loud, it’s their personal choice, so is not saying it,” he said.
However, speaking of visibility, Carvalho said he believes that it is important to seek or provide support to members of the community. “You can only be helped if an issue has been communicated to another on your part. This however should happen on your own terms. In my case, I never came out. My mother found out, my relatives and friends afterward. As you know now, I am living my life with my beautiful partner and four kids, so things do eventually work out.
We also asked Carvalho what he thinks is the biggest issue with respect to the lack of acceptance of the LGBTIQ community in Sri Lanka, and to this he said: “People are confused about what it is because of all these different names and definitions. It is definitely rocket science for many who don’t know. As you know, most problems in the world are caused by ignorance or limited knowledge. I suppose, if you see a LGBTIQ person, try to get to know them as a person and not in terms of the label they fall under.”
He further added that one of the biggest challenges when interacting within the community is labelling and discrimination and the judgment that goes with it. “We know discriminating LGBTIQ persons is unacceptable.
Similarly, we shouldn’t be labelling and splitting ourselves up.”
Speaking on what activism means to him, Carvalho stated: “I don’t believe in this flag-waving activism, just because those tactics will not work in countries like ours. Our country is more community-oriented. I have seen heterosexual individuals helping gay/lesbian couples like their own family. Living life as an example for younger LGBTIQ generations is the best form of activism. Through that, they get to learn more and help others regardless of their sexuality.”
We wanted to know what it was like to be in the spotlight, so we asked Carvalho what it was like being in a relationship that’s always under the spotlight: “Well, it’s sometimes fun and sometimes hard. We are quite often being asked unnecessary, cringeworthy questions, but I guess it’s normal. It is the same in any relationship or marriage between popular people.”
Finally, Carvalho gave a few words of advice to his fellow queer community: “Just be yourself. Don’t let any TV shows or fictional characters influence your actions. Your sexual orientation isn’t the main highlight of your life, and you are not different from others just because you are LGBTIQ. Do not think just because your parents are worried about you being open about your sexuality, they are against you. It’s just that they don’t want anyone hurt you. Like you needed all this time to realise what you want in life, they need some time too. And being LGBTIQ doesn’t mean you need to be open to everyone’s bed. Last but not least, don’t label/judge anyone.”