For his first two weeks in Brazil’s Congress in February, David Miranda was too scared to take the microphone. Far-right firebrand Jair Bolsonaro, known for homophobic and racist outbursts and policy pledges had just assumed the presidency. Miranda, a gay black man, was feeling the pressure. “I was shaking,” he tells TIME. “That place is not built for people like us.” Miranda, 33, stands out among Brazilian Congressmen—three quarters of whom are white, compared to just 44% of the broader population. He grew up in Jacarezinho, a mostly-black Rio favela with high rates of violent crime and police brutality. When he was five, his mother died and he moved in with his aunt and her children. Miranda left home at 13, wanting to “get to know the world,” and he worked shining shoes and cleaning for six years.