"Gays Have Taken the Paulista!" Queer Protest and Placemaking in São Paulo

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Joseph Jay Sosa


Focusing on queer protest cultures in downtown São Paulo, this article investigates how urban spaces function as a “national stage” for the public dramas of political crises that took place between 2010 and 2018. In the culture war debates over sexual minority and gender identity rights that pervaded national politics in this period, protest served as a key venue to articulate not only queer visibility but queer political affect. The key to these protests is their site-specificity. The street is not just the site where protest takes place—rather
it is an important ideological construct within Brazilian society and political imagination. Drawing on performance studies with an emphasis on the choreography and design of protest, this article examines how protest as a genre of street occupation frames queer lifeworlds as it presents them to the national public. LGBT people’s struggle over and attachments to distinct locations in São Paulo, such as Paulista Avenue, become operationalized as part of the message of protest. Because of São Paulo’s concentration of news media, the streets of São Paulo’s downtown district play a distinct role in transmitting nationalized sentiment. 

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Author Biography

Joseph Jay Sosa, Bowdoin College

Joseph Jay Sosa is assistant professor in the Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Program at Bowdoin College. He can be reached at jsosa@bowdoin.edu.