For five years, Brazilian student Talles de Olivera Faria was made to feel uncomfortable at his university for being himself. But he had the final say as he strut across the graduation stage — in a dress and heels.
The 24-year-old student recently graduated from the Instituto de Technologia de Aeronáutica (ITA), one of the most prestigious engineering schools in Brazil that functions with the support of the country's Air Force. During his time at school, De Oliveira Faria said he experienced a great deal of homophobia.
The red t-shirt dress he wore had "ITA Aeronáutica and its traditions" written in glitter glue letters with bullet points that read: "homophobia, racism, psychological violence and abuse of authority." He said in a recent interview that he knew he'd be wearing a dress at graduation since his third year.
"Since I was 12 years old, I had always heard wonderful things about ITA," he wrote on his page. "About how it was the best university in the country, the possibility of receiving money during graduation, and the amount of opportunities that would open up after graduating from the institution. ITA was my big dream. Little did I know it would be the biggest disappointment of my life."
After the graduation, the administration asked to meet with De Oliveira Faria about his claims about homophobia. "They listened and told me that some of the claims I spoke about they were already discussing," De Oliveira Faria said. "But I told them: 'I don't trust your work, I don't think it will change anything.' So I'm going to continue doing what I think I should do."
Watch the de Oliveira Faria receive his diploma above.