“I’m going to the gay parade because my dad’s gay,” I heard from outside my window as I woke up two Sundays ago. My neighbor’s 16 year old grandson repeated this to whoever passed through our beco (alley) in Rocinha. My friends and neighbors had been buzzing about the gay parade for at least two weeks prior. People, who claimed to be homophobic, gushed about how much fun they had had and how much beer they had drunk at last year’s parade. Carros de som blasted their announcements: “Come out of the closet and come to the 2nd Gay Parade this Sunday!”
It was scheduled to start at 10am. The street only began to fill up around 2pm. Gay and transgendered television celebrities interviewed some of the more colorful members of public in the street before they ascended the sound truck/float. I ran into a friend who told me that Rocinha’s dono‘s (don’s) best friend was trans and had been on the sound truck earlier. Mobile vendors sold shots of tequila, honey-sweetened cachaça in plastic tubes, and ice cold beer. As I danced to Lady Gaga and Brazilian brega (“cheesy” music) coming from the sound truck, I wondered if the inclusion of “parade” was a misnomer for this street party.
As dusk descended, silver confetti rained down from the truck and someone announced that we were going to start moving. We began to mobilize in front of the truck/float, walking, dancing, and sashaying down the main street of Rocinha. We, the public, were the parade. The only audience-public not to parade were those who watched, beer in hand, from their terraces or windows.
After the S Curve, we descended down Via Appia towards the stage at the bottom of the hill. The party continued. As a friend and I went in search for a bar bathroom, we encountered two young men in the “movimento” armed with semi-automatic weapons. They each wore V for Vendetta Guy Fawkes masks. “You’re really pretty, like Madonna or Lady Gaga,” one told my tall, platinum blond friend “Are you actually a girl?” “Yes,” she answered, “And are you actually a boy?” He laughed and lifted his mask briefly. We returned to the thousands dancing in front of the stage, crammed with shirtless pretty boys showing off their bodies and dance moves to brega and the inevitable funk carioca.