Brazil’s far-right President, Jair Bolsonaro, has again whipped up homophobic sentiment with his most recent comments on COVID-19.
At a press conference on Tuesday at the Presidential Palace in Brasilia, Bolsonaro suggested Brazil couldn’t grind to a halt in its efforts to slow transmission of the coronavirus.
“I regret the deaths. I really do. But all of us are going to die one day,” he told journalists, according to AFP. “There is no point in escaping from that, in escaping from reality. We have to stop being a country of fags (maricas). We have to face up to it and fight. I hate this f****t stuff”
“Maricas” is a slang Portuguese term for gay men, which is best translated as “sissies” or “fags.” Some media outlets have translated it as “sissies” but others have gone with “fags.”
Bolsonaro’s comments come despite Brazil having the second-highest COVID death rate in the world. With over 162,000 deaths, it is second only to the U.S. It has had over 5.7million reported cases, and health experts believe that could be a serious undercount of the true number. Bolsonaro was diagnosed with the virus in July.
Prior to his own diagnosis, he had reportedly mocked staff who wore facemasks, saying they were, “coisa de viado”. Another homophobic slur, this roughly translates as “for fairies”.
Related: Brazil’s Bolsonaro said masks were “for fairies” – before he got COVID-19
Bolsonaro has a history of homophobia. Back in 2011, he said in an interview with Playboy, “I would be incapable of loving a gay son”, suggesting it would be better for such a son to die in a car accident.
In 2018, during a filmed interview, Bolsonaro said, “Yes, I’m homophobic – and very proud of it.”
Last year, Bolsonaro spoke out about allowing Brazil to become a “gay tourism paradise.”
Bolsonaro is a major ally of President Donald Trump. He remains one of the few, major world leaders to not yet offer congratulations to Joe Biden on becoming President-Elect.
Related: Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro slams nation’s gay tourism as affront to “families”
Six U.S. bars serving the LGBTQ community are among the businesses to receive grants from advocacy organization HRC (Human Rights Campaign) to help them survive the pandemic.
Across much of the world, gay venues are struggling to survive. Trading conditions were tough before the pandemic. Lesbian bars, in particular, have fallen in number dramatically over the last decade. Now, with lockdown restrictions in many areas, the situation is dire.
HRC has patterned with broadcaster SHOWTIME to launch its ‘Queer to Stay’ grant initiative. It announced the ten queer-run recipients of it ‘LGBTQ+ Business Preservation’ grants last week. The successful businesses were selected from a huge number of applicants. The exact size of the grant has not been revealed, with a HRC spokesperson telling the Bay Area Reporter only that it’s, “five figures.” Each business will receive the same amount.
“We must preserve affirming, welcoming community spaces for LGBTQ+ people – including young people who may not have supportive families or communities at home,” said HRC President Alphonso David in a statement.
“HRC is thrilled to be partnering with SHOWTIME to support LGBTQ+-serving businesses in order to ensure that they can continue to provide a space for LGBTQ+ people to express ourselves freely, find community and be our authentic selves.”
The bars and clubs to receive grants were the following.
The Alibi Lounge, New York
The Alibi Lounge in Harlem is one of New York City’s only last remaining black-owned LGBTQ venues. It’s been in danger of shuttering since the start of the pandemic.
“The award is great recognition for the hard work that we do every single day,” its owner, Alexi Minko, told GayCities. “In a pragmatic way it will help with everyday, common expenses for a small business (rents, salaries, we had to pay sales tax on the 21st for instance).
“We also have a fundraising campaign on GoFundMe called “Everyone Needs An Alibi“. We have been humbled by the level of support! Supporting a small local business is investing in the long-term future of a neighborhood, especially when the small business is black gay-owned in a minority-dominated area!”
Related: NYC’s last Black-owned gay bar fights for survival
Pearl Bar, Houston
The Pearl Bar is Houston’s only lesbian bar. It posted a message about the grant to its Instagram last week, saying, “It has been a hard road getting through this, but between our community and this ‘Queer to Stay’ initiative, we are excited to open slowly starting this weekend.”
Bar owner Julie Mabry said in a statement, “We deserve to spend our money where we are treated with respect and welcomed from the moment we walk in the door. Even through this pandemic, it has become more obvious than ever that there is still a lot of hate in this country and I think now more than ever we need to protect our safe spaces.”
El Rio, San Francisco
El Rio has a history going back to 1978 when it was opened in the Mission district by Malcolm Thornley and Robert Nett as a Leather Brazilian bar. They retired in 1997 and the bar was taken over by Dawn Huston. General manager Lynne Angel told Bay Area Reporter that El Rio brings together, “an extremely diverse intersection of communities in San Francisco,” and that “the heart of our community includes LGBTQ+ communities of color and their friends.”
The bar is currently closed, as per San Francisco city restrictions. Huston told BAR, “Currently, we are in hibernation mode and plan to use the funds to maintain ourselves until we can safely reopen.”
Herz is the only lesbian focused space in Mobile, Alabama.
“We are so grateful for the grant as it has allowed us to make some much-needed repairs, as well as meet the demands of the business that would have otherwise been extremely difficult to meet,” manager Rachel Broughton told GayCities.
“With recent hurricanes, curfew, and bar closures we have seen a significant decline in business and we’re not sure when the curfew will be lifted in our area. The grant from HRC and SHOWTIME has made all of the difference in the world!
The bar would still welcome more funding via a new Crowdfunder it’s launched.
My Sister’s Room, Atlanta
My Sister’s Room has been Atlanta’s premier lesbian bar for almost a quarter of a century.
“Being one of the most diverse bars in the country where everyone is welcome makes a huge impact on our community. People want to come where they see a reflection of themselves,” said owners of My Sister’s Room Jennifer Maguire and Jami Maguire to the Georgia Voice.
“People have been coming to My Sister’s Room for years for gatherings, community, or in times when they need a friendly face. They know that they have a place to come home to. We hope to continue the legacy another 25 years.”
Blush & Blu, Denver
“Distinct drinkery” Blush and Blu is the last remaining lesbian bar in Denver, Colorado (compared to 15 years ago, when there were around five bars catering to queer women).
“We are so proud to be selected as a recipient of the #QueerToStay business preservation initiative!” the bar said in on Instagram. “Thank you @HumanRightsCampaign and @Showtime for putting a focus on LGBTQ+ businesses as we navigate these uncertain times.”
Besides the aforementioned bars and clubs, four other businesses received grants: Amplio Fitness in Rocky Rover, OH; Doyenne barbershop in Charlotte, NC; Freed Bodyworks – a wellness and yoga center – in Washington DC; and SalonBenders, a hair salon in Long Beach, CA.
Someday (hopefully) soon, quarantine practices will be phased out, and we’ll be free to travel around the world.
On Reddit, users are listing their favorite saunas, prompted by a guy asking for steamy recommendations.
“Maybe you’re like me — deprived of human touch since the pandemic and reminiscing about your past ways,” the original poster wrote, kicking off the conversation. “While gay saunas are not for every guy, I miss going to safe places to meet men and just feel liberated.”
Related: In response to coronavirus, gay sauna refuses entry to people who are ‘too hot’
Here are the saunas commenters recommended, illustrated with Instagram pics geotagged at each location.
The Babylon, Bangkok, Thailand
Der Boiler, Berlin, Germany
Sauna Sitges, Barcelona, Spain
Sauna Paraíso, Madrid, Spain
Related: Guys reveal their best and worst bathhouse experiences