Congratulations to Rafaela Silva, a Judo athlete who won Brazil’s first gold medal at the Rio Olympics on Monday! The black lesbian martial artist, has been with her partner, Thamara Cezar, for three years.
She came out as a lesbian to Globo Sports, a Brazilian media outlet. According to OutSports, the Globo interview “discusses how [Thamara] is Silva’s press agent and social media manager and the love they have for their three dogs, they call their kids.”
The two met through a love for Judo. However, Thamara was not as skilled in the sport and is instead working on a degree in physical education. She is also focused on managing the athlete’s interviews and social media accounts and taking care of the couple’s home so that Rafaela could focus on winning.
In the interview, Rafaela also shares how important Thamara’s support was as she trained for the Olympics. “She was there every day and knew how I was feeling, when I was sick when I wasn’t,” Rafaela said. “Everything I needed, she was there to do it, so she is also very important in this victory.”
Rafaela, who doesn’t know how to cook, joked, “I don’t know how to do anything but fight.”
While celebrations are definitely in order, Rafaela’s story is bittersweet. As a black Brazilian who grew up in a Rio slum, her success is amazing. However, she has also had to face racism from her fellow countrymen. When she failed to gain a medal in the 2012 London Olympics, she endured racist comments.
“I insisted judo is my life [after 2012],” the 24-year-old said in a press conference on Monday. “People told me: ‘The place for you is as a monkey in a cage,’ but my place is in sports, in judo.”