Maurício Silvia is a 22-year-old gay college student living in São José, Brazil. In many ways, he’s just like any other guy his age. He enjoys hanging out with friends, watching TV, and going on dates. But there’s one thing that sets him apart from many of his peers: Maurício is blind.
“I lost my vision when I was only a month old,” he explains. “I was born prematurely when my mother was six months pregnant. In the incubator, I burned my retina and my optic nerve because of the lights.”
Maurício recently hosted a Q&A on Facebook where he encouraged people ask him all the questions they’ve ever had about what it’s like to be blind.
From how he wipes his butt (“I don’t know about other blind people, but I trust my sense of touch. I can tell when it’s all good.”), to how he picks out what to wear each morning (“I choose my clothes according to the fabric.”), to how he cooks (“I just use the microwave, mostly.”), Maurício answers everyone’s dumb questions so hopefully they can stop asking them.
“I think information is the best way to fight prejudice,” he says. “I love answering these kinds of questions because I feel like I am making a contribution to my own community and I like making people feel comfortable, so don’t be afraid to ask.”
Here are some highlights from the Q&A…
On being both blind and gay:
Being blind and sexually active is too much, right? People don’t understand how this is possible, and explaining it is always embarrassing or complex. So, yeah, there’s always someone asking how I have sex, and how I know what I like. I actually think it’s important.
On dating and relationships:
I think people are a little biased, yes, but I have more trouble finding someone. I consider myself a very receptive person, but I don’t feel like going beyond college and a few night outs or taking my social life to the next level to find someone. So my relationship issues are pretty much the same as most people, I guess.
I feel attracted by the voice and by what I can feel about the person’s physique, but I don’t mean to be shallow. I’m also attracted to their life history. I had a list of things I thought were attractive about guys. I sent it to my friends, but I lost it. It was just something silly, with things like being able to play the guitar, having enough hair, being taller than me, etc. But for real, I feel attracted to what I can absorb and observe, in every possible aspect. Nothing special.
On the word “blind”:
I’m not offended by the word “blind” because that’s how we define ourselves. I don’t really like terms like “person with disabilities,” because it makes it sound like I could leave my disability somewhere. Prejudiced attitudes always offend me more.