A Fag by Any Other Name

Social Concerns over Same-Gender Sexuality and Self-Image in Porto Alegre, Brazil


  • Benjamin Junge State University of New York, New Paltz




Homosexuality, Homophobia, Brazil, ethnography


This paper examines concerns over self-image during conversations about same-gender sexuality -- ranging from ‘fag jokes’ to assertions of the rights of lesbians and gays -- among low-income Brazilians in the southern city of Porto Alegre. Applying sociolinguistic insights to the analysis of four ethnographic case studies collected in 2002-03, I consider how speakers referencing non-normative forms of sexual desire, identity and practice draw from a range of available discourses of gender and sexuality -- including those of machismo, science and medicine, and of sexual rights -- and how negotiation between these discourses becomes subject to gendered concerns about self-image. Within this purview, I also examine inter-personal dynamics and discursive proficiencies which encourage the perception that a speaker might be homophobic or anti-gay, and the rhetorical steps taken to minimize this likelihood. Implications for understandings of language, same-gender sexuality, and homophobia are addressed.

Author Biography

Benjamin Junge, State University of New York, New Paltz

Assistant Professor, Dept. of Anthropology


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How to Cite

Junge, B. (2011). A Fag by Any Other Name: Social Concerns over Same-Gender Sexuality and Self-Image in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Gender and Language, 4(2), 221–255. https://doi.org/10.1558/genl.v4i2.221