LGBT Travellers

Latin America’s largest and most visible gay community supports a dizzying array of options, day and night. There are not only gay bars and discos but also restaurants, cafes and even a shopping center – Shopping Frei Caneca, known as ‘Shopping Gay Caneca,’ which has a largely gay clientele.

Rio is often touted as Brazil’s gay capital, yet you almost never see overt displays of affection in the streets. In São Paulo, PDA (public display of affection) is rather commonplace, at least in certain neighborhoods. These include the area just north of Praça da República, which tends to be more working class; Rua Frei Caneca just north of Av Paulista, which attracts an alternative crowd; and Rua da Consolaçao in Jardins, largely the domain of Sampa’s upscale LGBT community.

In 1997, São Paulo’s first Gay Pride parade drew a meager 3000 people. In less than a decade, it has grown into the world’s largest pride event, attracting nearly three million. That growth is a testament to the profound change in cultural attitudes toward homosexuality in Brazil, but also Sampa’s long tradition of tolerance. Indeed, most of the crowd are simpatizantes – LGBT-friendly straights.

During Pride week, the city’s gay and lesbian venues are packed to the gills in the lead-up to the big parade, which traditionally takes place on a Sunday, usually in mid-June. There are also political meetings, street fairs, concerts and other special events.

For nights out, don’t miss the bars surrounding Feira Benedito Calixto in Pinheiros on Saturday afternoons after the street fair; the corner of Frei Caneca and Peixoto Gomide in Baixo Augusta, where the early-evening pre-party at the otherwise nondescript lanchonete (snack bar) Bar da Lôca spills into the streets; and Bella Paulista, the 24-hour restaurant where everyone ends up after the clubs close. Hot bars and clubs include Club Jerome, Barouche and the perennial mixed superclub, D-Edge. For roaming parties, try Lunatica (www.facebook.com/festalunatica).

Important country-wide resources include:

  • ABGLT (Associação Brasileira de Lésbicas, Gays, Bissexuais, Travestis, Transexuais e Intersexos; www.abglt.org) The Brazilian Association of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transvestites, Transexuals and Intersexuals.
  • ACAPA (Associação Brasileira de Gays, Lésbicas, Bissexuais, Travestis e Transexuais; www.disponivel.uol.com.br/acapa) The Brazilian Association of Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, Transvestites and Transexuals.
  • Mix Brasil (www.mixbrasil.org.br) The largest Brazilian LGBT site.