It’s Pride time again, and São Paulo’s LGBT community, plus the ‘simpatizantes’ who make up the simpático ‘S’ in ‘GLS’ (a Portuguese equivalent for LGBT) will be out in force on Avenida Paulista for the city’s 17th annual Pride Parade – the Parada Gay, on 2 June. The 2013 theme is ‘Never again in the closet! Unity and awareness in the fight against homophobia’ (‘Para o armário, nunca mais! União e conscientização na luta contra a homofobia’).
It’s an apposite one, given the 2013 appointment of the homophobic pastor Marco Feliciano as the president of Brazil’s congressional Human Rights and Minorities Commission.
A grassroots, nationwide movement has sprung up against Feliciano, who has said, ‘love between people of the same sex leads to hatred, crime and rejection’, and who claims that thanks to spiritual assistance, ‘many’ members of his congregation, affiliated to the Assembleia de Deus evangelical church, have stopped being gay.
The #FelicianoNãoMeRepresenta (‘FelicianoDoesNotRepresentMe’) hashtag quickly mutated into variations like #LaerteMeRepresenta (‘LaerteRepresentsMe’), referring to the much-loved trans cartoonist Laerte Coutinho, one of the leaders of a new, parallel ‘Extraordinary Commission on Human Rights and Minorities’ (Comissão Extraordinaria de Direitos Humanos e Minorias) that was born on 25 April 2013 with a mass meeting at SP’s Praça Roosevelt.
‘In a way, the Feliciano episode has been a good thing,’ said SP councilman Nabil Bonduki, speaking at the public meeting. ‘We’ve had to organise, mobilise and create a counter-movement’. Speaking at the same meeting, the national congressman Jean Wyllys, who rose to fame, incredibly, by winning Big Brother in 2005, said, ‘I’d rather my sexuality were of no consequence. But it is. It’s stigmatised. The only way I have of rising above that stigma is to embody that identity –but I’d prefer it if I didn’t have to.’
We’d be surprised if there isn’t at least the odd effigy of Feliciano bobbing about around one of the twenty or so floats that are set to cruise along Avenida Paulista, ending up at Praça Roosevelt during the 2013 Pride parade which culminates in a concert, at 7pm at Praça da República, with the lesbian singer Ellen Oléria, winner of 2012’s reality TV singing competition, The Voice Brasil.
The numbers reported for SP’s Parada Gay have reached a giddy 3 million in previous years, though figures of that kind are best taken with a large pinch of salt. But even if the numbers wheeled out annually sound a bit over-enthusiastic, there’s still an awful lot of pride – yes, and prejudice – about.