A week ago, Brazilian Olympic volleyball star Douglas Souza had 260,000 followers on Instagram. Now, after posting videos showing him doing the samba on his bed, modeling his Olympic uniform and lip-syncing a drag performer’s songs, he has grown that number to 1.6 million. Not bad for a “skinny little boy from the interior of Sao Paulo.”
Souza, 25, is a member of the Brazilian men’s team trying to repeat as gold medalists in Tokyo. He’s also doing is as openly gay, after coming out publicly in 2020.
“I want to be remembered as the first homosexual to play volleyball at a high level in Brazil,” he said. “I want to be a mirror for everyone who feels non-standard. I am non-standard. I’m also extremely thin. If I, a skinny little boy from the interior of Sao Paulo did it, so will you. That’s how I want to be remembered.”
In a sign of how comfortable he is being out, in one video from Tokyo he jokes that his teammates are “hotties.”
Souza’s coming out was organic. He said he knew he liked boys from a young age and accepted it as natural. He left home at 14 and returned with a boy he was dating and didn’t think anything of it.
“I don’t know exactly when I started to openly declare myself as a homosexual,” he said in an interview this month. “It was like I said — I have never denied anything to anyone. I have always been very transparent in life. So, I don’t know, forever. There is no age to talk about when I asserted myself to people. I’ve always been.”
The key thing Souza wants people to know is that “people’s awareness is very important for people to understand that we are the same as everyone else. We don’t want any kind of privilege. We want to be treated equally, have the same rights and opportunities.”
On the court, Souza is a stud, winning the best spiker award at the 2018 World Championship and a key part of the team that is one of the favorites in Tokyo. If he wins the gold again, let’s hope he sambas and lip-synches on the court.
You can follow Souza along with his 1.6 million fans on Instagram.