Belo Miguel Cipriani, author of Blind: A Memoir and Midday Dreams, took the time to chat with Living Out about his recently published memoir. The book chronicles the time leading up to, and after, an assault which left him without his vision. His story is touching and empowering and we got to see more of that during the interview.
What was the most difficult part of writing a book? Which chapter was the hardest to write?
The hardest part to write about was the part with the assault because I had to put myself back at the event not just once but multiple times as I edited the story. It took months to write down and edit the scene of the assault and part of it was because it was hard to relive that event over and over.
What sort of gay experiences did you have prior to meeting Jesus, Carlos and Rodrigo? Why were they so important to your growth and change as a young gay man?
I think that all of what was happening before the Internet and I came out before the average age. It was hard to find any other teenager who was looking for someone like me.
You end Chapter 22 with the powerful quote, “Maybe all blind people have an ‘S’ on our chests that we simply can’t see.” Could you elaborate more on this?
I think it goes back to the fact that blindness is really tough and back then there was not a lot of technology available. There is a more conscious society now and I wanted to remind blind people that there is good in their life and that its there but we may not always see it.
Has writing your memoir added to your acceptance of losing your sight and living as a gay blind man?
The day my book was published and I held it my hand was the day I forgave my attackers. I was able to put it in a drawer in my past and it was very monumental.
What does being blind mean to you? Do you think of yourself as disabled?
You know, sometimes I feel empowered but there are moments of frustration. I think being blind means you have a different outlook on life.
Which was harder to write, your memoir or Midday Dreams?
All of them. Relating the memoir was challenging not only physically but also emotionally.
What was your inspiration for writing Midday Dreams?
I met a woman who was from there and she could tell by the way I spoke Portuguese that I was not from there. She told me she had a brother who 20 years ago left there. I never saw this woman again and years later her moving story came to mind and I decided to write a story along similar lines.
What projects do you see yourself working on in the future?
A lot of books, a follow up to Blind and working on fiction novels. I like to keep myself writing and sometimes I get stuck and switch to another project.
Who is your favorite author?
My favorite author is Amy Tan. It meant the world to me that she endorsed Blind. That was a big part of my career as a young writer.
What advice do you have for those who read your book who may have a disability themselves?
I think that you get so caught up in what you cannot do that you don’t recognize what you can do. And in those moments of frustration you can realize what it is that you can do and push forward.
October is National Disability Awareness Month and I want to encourage people that when they think about a disability to not make assumptions or make up rules of how things should happen and take time to do research.
By Alexis Capitini