For many foreign observers, Brazil still conjures up a collage of exotic images, ranging from the camp antics of Carmen Miranda to the bronzed girl (or boy) from Ipanema moving sensually over the white sands of Rio's beaches. Among these tropical fantasies is that of the uninhibited and licentious Brazilian homosexual, who expresses uncontrolled sexuality during wild Carnival festivities and is welcomed by a society that accepts fluid sexual identity. However, in this cultural history of male homosexuality in Brazil, James Green shatters these exotic myths and replaces them with a complex picture of the social obstacles that confront Brazilian homosexuals. Ranging from the late-19th century to the rise of a politicized gay and lesbian rights movement in the 1970s, Green's study focuses on male homosexual subcultures in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. He uncovers the stories of men coping with arrests and street violence, dealing with family restrictions, and resisting both a hostile medical profession and moralizing influences of the Church.
Green also describes how these men have created vibrant subcultures with alternative support networks for maintaining romantic and sexual relationships and for surviving in an intolerant social environment. He then goes on to trace how urban parks, plazas, cinemas and beaches are appropriated for same-sex erotic encounters, bringing us into the world of street cruising, male hustlers and cross-dressing prostitutes. 24 halftones, 6 maps, 10 line drawings, 5 tables