Rio is the gay capital of Latin America. There’s no law against homosexuality in Brazil. During Carnaval, thousands of gay expatriate Brazilians and foreign tourists fly in for the festivities. Cross-dressers steal the show at all Carnaval balls, especially the gay ones. Outside Carnaval, the gay scene is fairly subdued. The most gay-friendly street in town is Farme de Amoedo in Ipanema, with cafes, restaurants and drinking spots.
You may hear or read the abbreviation GLS, particularly in the entertainment section of newspapers and magazines. It stands for Gays, Lesbians and Sympathizers, and when used in connection with venues or events basically indicates that anyone with an open mind is welcome. In general the scene is much more integrated than elsewhere; and the majority of parties involve a pretty mixed crowd.
The Rio Gay Guide (www.riogayguide.com) has information for gay and lesbian tourists, including sections on Carnaval, nightlife and bathhouses. Its more up-to-date Twitter feed (@riogayguide) lists the night's big parties and other events.