More than 3 millions of Brazilians sent a defiant message to right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, at the country’s first Pride parade since the ardent homophobe took office in January: They won’t go back into the closet, no matter how hard he tries to roll back the rights they’ve gained.
Bolsonaro, who won Brazil’s presidential election last October, once said that he’d rather have a dead son than a gay one and, at another point in his past, compared same-sex marriage to pedophilia.
As president, he has made homophobic jokes during state visits to other countries and gleefully celebrated an openly gay congressman’s decision to flee the country amid death threats from Bolsonaro supporters. His government has implemented or attempted to enact a slew of anti-LGBT policies from the very beginning.
That such a figure now occupies the Palácio do Planalto, cast a long shadow over the annual Pride festivities in Brazil, 50 years after the Stonewall Riots in New York City, which inspired this year’s theme. And it inspired Brazilians, even those who have celebrated Pride from its beginning, to turn out in force.
Overall, the parade took on the air of celebration rather than protest, and despite Bolsonaro’s blatant homophobia, there was reason to cheer. This month, Brazil’s Supreme Court voted to criminalize homophobia, a move that activists had long sought in the hopes of limiting anti-LGBT violence in a country some human rights observers regard as one of the deadliest in the world for queer people.
Crowds swarmed the Avenida Paulista in São Paulo
for the first Pride parade since the election of Bolsonaro,
right-wing homophobe, as the Brazil’s president