A Fag by Any Other Name
Social Concerns over Same-Gender Sexuality and Self-Image in Porto Alegre, Brazil
Keywords: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.
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