ActivismOpen LetterPoliticsSex & Gender

marielle franco’s partner on how their love won in a homophobic society

March 30, 2018
688 Picks

In the wake of her death this past March 14th, Rio-based municipal activist Marielle Franco‘s life and legacy has been recounted for its journeys, hardships, and triumphs. Making countless waves in Feminism and human rights movements across Brazil- she sought the betterment of her society all the way up until the end of her life.

Her life, however, still lives on through the eyes of her supporters, her team, and most importantly in the eyes of those closest to her. In the eyes of Monica Teresa Benicio-Franco’s  partner of 13 years- the loved they shared was one of a lifetime, 1,000 times stronger than the bullets that got between them; and in an open letter shared with Vanity Fair, she reflects on the perseverance and determination of their love in the silencing, homophobic environment they called home.

The letter, “Goodbye, the Love of my Life”, is much more than a farewell- it is a stripping-down of a love like any other, forced to shape shift and break down walls that never should have been built.With Benicio’s words is a subtle call to action, through a call to recognition and legitimizing the love these two women shared- against the climate of Brazilian politics.

With potency and clarity we’re introduced to yet another side of the revolutionary, and as Marielle Franco rests in peace, we remember her influence and use her tools as a template to never looking back.

Read Monica Teresa Benicio’s powerful remembrance “Goodbye, Love of my Life” below:

**«I love you as you love certain dark things, secretly, between the shadow and the soul (Pablo Neruda)» .
That’s how my story began with Marielle, in secret, for us too. To the point of not being able to identify what that nameless feeling that guided us was. For years we have not been able to live our life in freedom. We feared social prejudices, we feared the reaction of our friends and our families, we feared above all our fear. Could two women, born in the favelas, live together? There were many reasons to stay away and only one pushed us forward: love. We could not live separated from each other. We rented a small apartment near Maré, with the little money we had available. We only had a sofa bed and a wardrobe but it was enough for us as it was our space, our retreat. After strong and long social pressures, Marielle and I broke up and resumed many times. So for thirteen years. The obstacles between us were many. We fought for the same causes, we had the same dreams and the same hopes for a better world. We had the same origin, born and raised both in the Maré. Years later we found out that our parents were friends. Were our destinies marked, since the day of birth, as the Brazilian artist Cazuza sings? Exaggerated! Just like our love was. According to the astrology aquarium and lion are complementary signs. She was a lion, I am an aquarium. The stars are right, we were complementary. She was fire and I air: together we were an uncontrollable fire, aligned on everything, intense, singular and complete. When we finally realized our dream of living together my life became chaotic: she was very disorganized while I am methodical and I follow my work schedule. She taught me to slow down a bit and I helped her to live better in her chaos. At home it was sweet and calm, it allowed me to take care of her. The strongest woman I have ever known. Every day he faced the world with an open face, shaking everyone’s hands. No matter how hard his days were, he always came home with a splendid smile. He did it for me. I was waiting for her at the door. We kissed and hugged as if it were always the first date. He told me: “It’s nice to come back and find you here.” It was not a habit, we really missed each day. Every morning greeting and separating us was difficult. A kiss was never enough. She came to the door, then came back, we kissed two more, three times, then she went out. To say goodbye has never been easy. It is not even now.
«So I love you because I can not love otherwise that way, in this way that I am not and you are not, so close that your hand on my chest is mine, so close that you close your eyes with my sleep (Pablo Neruda) » . **