i UNIVERSIDADE FEDERAL DE SANTA CATARINA PROGRAMA DE PÓS-GRADUAÇÃO EM INGLÊS
Fábio Santiago Nascimento
SEXUAL/SOCIAL ‘BORDERLANDS’: MEN’S NARRATIVES OF MASCULINITY AND SAME-SEX DESIRE IN BRAZIL Tese submetida ao Programa de PósGraduação em Inglês da Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina para a obtenção do Grau de Doutor em Inglês: Estudos Linguísticos e Literários – Área de Concentração: Estudos da Linguagem. Orientadora: Profa. Dra. Débora de Carvalho Figueiredo
To all those who are resilient and go against the grain.
In many ways this dissertation is a result of both the contingencies of my personal life as a male sexual subject and my academic journey across disciplinary boundaries, which started 10 years ago at Universidade Federal de Santa Maria (UFSM) in Southern Brazil. Back in 2004, I used to hold many ‘truths’ about my selfhood, other people and the world around me. Suddenly this perfect world started to tumble down when I experienced intimacy with other men and personal crises that forced me to think about my subjectivity, desires, hopes, goals and my own place in the world. At that time, when I started the English Major, language was the main motivation for my career choice because English was so pervasive in my life since childhood and the American culture was very alluring to me. However, I had some surprises on the road and I am indebted to several people who have helped me along the way. During my first academic year, I was introduced to the field of Discourse Analysis by Amanda Scherer, one of my professors, and it really got my attention. I remember a conversation we had after class, in which she suggested reading some books by Norman Fairclough. Amanda, a French discourse analyst, was well aware that Anglo-Saxon discourse analysis would best fit my academic interests as an English Major student. At that time, I was already working as a teaching assistant at the English language courses offered by the REWRITE – Reading and Writing Research and Teaching Lab (LABLER in Brazilian Portuguese), helping senior colleagues prepare their classes, learning how to design teaching materials and observing their interactions in classroom. During this initial training, I received great support from Roséli Nascimento, another former professor of mine, who was advising me and two other senior students. Roséli and her strudents incited my curiosity when they mentioned concepts and theories such as “functional grammar”, “discourse”, “multimodality”, “language as social practice”, which were unknown to me at that time. I became determined to understand those strange ‘things’ they were talking about and thus started borrowing some books from the library, colleagues or other professors. In the beginning, everything was very
ii confusing and abstract, but my passion and knowledge started increasing as time went by. I wanted very badly to attain some sense of authority and become knowledgeable like the senior and Master students I used to interact with at the lab. I was mesmerized by the sociolinguistic theories that were introduced to me and which offered me the possibility of social critique and transformation of my ideological beliefs. For those reasons, I decided to apply for a scientific initiation scholarship and assist the lab’s coordinator, Désirée Motta-Roth, in her own research. Désirée is a centerpiece in my formation as an applied linguist and discourse analyst. With her, I developed a very complex relationship characterized by mixed feelings of respect, admiration, friendship, trust, worry and constructive conflict. During my years as a research assistant, I learned that doing research is a challenging collective endeavor that demands focus, discipline and passion. From that point, I got involved with several overwhelming though satisfying academic activities such as presenting papers at conferences, collecting and analyzing data, writing research reports, organizing curricula, publishing articles, revising books and, most of all, learning how to write in academic English. This experience definitely made me realize I wanted to become a scholar. In 2009, I started my Master’s degree at UFSM and another experience during that time opened up new avenues of academic scholarship to me. When I took my first course on gender studies with Vera Pires, still at UFSM, I was fascinated to realize that language also (re)enacts and helps naturalize gender roles in different societies. At that time, I published my first article on gender and discourse analysis in the classroom (Nascimento & Socoloski, 2010), which was my very initial movement towards broader intellectual horizons in the Humanities. This change of scope in my scholarship continued when I started my doctoral studies at Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC), in Florianópolis. At UFSC, I was introduced to queer theory by Eliana Ávila, which resulted in the publication of a book chapter on gender performativity and melancholia (Nascimento, 2014a) and developed a deep interest on gay, lesbian and queer studies. In addition, several informal debates with my supervisor, Débora de Carvalho Figueiredo and one of my housemates, Diogo Oliveira, helped me realize the relevance of economic class for (socio)linguistic research in Brazil, which ultimately turned my attention to issues such as globalization, postcolonialism and (queer) Marxisms. I would even say that I am very
iii fortunate to have had Débora as my supervisor because of her friendship, her belief in my ideas and the freedom she gave me to take intellectual risks. Other people who have also indirectly contributed to this work are Susana Borneo Funck, a feminist scholar in literary studies who became an inspiration to me; Viviane Heberle, who encouraged me to pursue my academic goals with perseverance; my colleagues at UFSC, Claudia Mayer, Marcelo Spitzner, Thayse Madella, Pedro Rieger and Renata Dalmaso, who shared with me an idealistic streak and a sense of camaraderie; and Michael Kimmel, who kindly accepted to sponsor me as a visiting scholar at the Department of Sociology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook for a year. At an institutional level, I am indebted to the two major research funding agencies in Brazil, National Council of Technological and Scientific Development (CNPq) and Coordination of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES), which have provided me with financial support for most of my academic years and made possible my trip to the U.S. as a visiting scholar during my doctoral studies. At a more personal level, I am grateful to several people who have helped me to deal with practical matters during these five years, especially Acácia Rosar, and my American friends Arthur E. Houde, Karen Grier and Caroline D’Abramo, who became a second family to me and made my time in the U.S. more pleasant in many ways. Three most important acknowledgments go to my mother, Mediatrix Santiago, and my sister, Ana Paula, who have always urged me to fulfill my dreams and given me endless love over the years, and Andre, my best friend and lover.
v ABSTRACT This dissertation explores narratives of men who have sex with men (MSM) as spaces for the negotiation of conflicting meanings and for the reproduction of ways of experiencing masculinity and sexuality. From a queer linguistics approach, which combines critical discourse analysis (Fairclough, 1992) with insights from materialist queer theory (Floyd, 2009), the research investigates the construction of male identities and the recontextualization of certain social practices related to sexuality (such as ‘coming out’) in the life narratives produced by MSM. In order to achieve these objectives, five narrative interviews conducted with MSM in Florianopolis-SC were analyzed thoroughly with the aid of analytical categories proposed by van Leeuwen (2008) for the representation of social actors and their actions. In terms of discursive practice, the analysis demonstrated that the overall context of the telling and the degree of affiliation (Stivers, 2008) between the researcher and interviewees towards the narrated event determined the narrative length, structure and the degree of access of the interviewer to the narratives. In terms of social practice, the analysis showed that MSM produce either narratives of heteromasculinity in which they perform specific ideals of masculinity of the Brazilian culture or narratives of homomasculinity in which they perform as ‘normal’ gay men and oppose their selves to the pathological figure of ‘bicha louca’ (crazy faggot’). Furthermore, the analysis indicates that those performances are accompanied by a process of reification of same-sex desire in discourse and the reproduction of a neoliberal ideology characterized by freedom and individual responsibility. Overall, the study reveals the pervasiveness of the closet as a social structure in Brazil and suggests the need to queer the institutions, which depends on economic justice brought by social programs that empower working class queers. Key-words: masculinities, same-sex desire, interview narratives, queer linguistics Number of pages: 172 Número de palavras: 51033
vi RESUMO Esta tese explora as narrativas de homens que fazem sexo com homens (HSH) como espaços para a negociação de significados em conflito e para a reprodução de formas de experienciar a masculinidade e a sexualidade. A partir de uma abordagem de linguística queer, que combina a análise crítica do discurso (Fairclough, 1992) com ideias da teoria queer materialista (Floyd, 2009), a pesquisa investiga a construção de identidades masculinas e a recontextualização de certas práticas sociais relacionadas à sexualidade (tais como “sair do armário”) nas narrativas de vida produzidas por HSH. De forma a atingir esses objetivos, foram analisadas intensivamente cinco entrevistas narrativas conduzidas com HSH em Florianópolis-SC com o auxílio de categorias de análise propostas por van Leeuwen (2008). Em termos da prática discursiva, a análise demonstrou que o contexto da fala como um todo e o grau de afiliação (Stivers, 2008) entre o pesquisador e os informantes com relação ao evento narrado determinaram a extensão da narrativa, a estrutura e o grau de acesso do entrevistador às narrativas. Em termos da prática social, a análise mostrou que HSH produzem tanto narrativas de heteromasculinidade, nas quais eles performam ideais de masculinidade específicos da cultura brasileira, quanto narrativas de homomasculinidade, nas quais eles performam como homens gays ‘normais’ e se opõem à figura patológica da ‘bicha louca’. Além disso, a análise indica que essas performances são acompanhadas por um processo de reificação do desejo pelo mesmo sexo no discurso e justificadas por uma ideologia neoliberal caracterizada pelo direito à liberdade e responsabilidade individual. De modo geral, o estudo revela o papel do armário como uma estrutura social generalizada no Brasil e sugere a necessidade de subverter as instituições sociais, o que depende de uma justiça econômica resultante de programas sociais que empoderem pessoas queer das classes trabalhadoras. Palavras-chave: masculinidades, desejo homossexual, entrevistas narrativas, linguística queer Número de páginas: 172 Número de palavras: 51033
viii LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 1 – NYC Pride 2014 sponsored by MasterCard..........................60 Figure 2 - Calvin Klein ad featuring actor Mark Wahlberg (“Mark Marky”) ..................................................................................................68 Figure 3 - Proud parenting campaign .....................................................69
ix LIST OF TABLES
Table 1 - Education and annual earnings of North-American domestic couples ................................................................................................... 61 Table 2 - Overview of the interviewees’ situations .............................. 78 Table 3 - Narratives and conversations in the interviews ...................... 90 Table 4 – Overview of the representations of same-sex desire in the narrative interviews ............................................................................. 126
x LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS CDA CTG IBGE IPEA HIV LGBTIQ MSM SUS UNAIDS
Critical Discourse Analysis Gaucho’s Tradition Center Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics Institute of Applied Economic Research Human Immunodeficiency Virus Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersexual, Queer Men who have Sex with men Brazilian Unified Health System the joint United Nations programme on HIV/AIDS
xi LIST OF APPENDICES
Appendix 1 – Term of agreement…….......………………………… 178 Appendix 2 - Receipt of project submission ……….……………… 180 Appendix 3 – Stages of evaluation of the project .…….…………… 181 Appendix 4 - Socioeconomic questionnaire …….………………... 182 Appendix 5 – Transcription conventions.…………...……………… 183
xii Contents ACKNOWLEDGMENTS _________________________________ i ABSTRACT ____________________________________________ v RESUMO ______________________________________________vi INTRODUCTION _______________________________________15 1 STUDIES ON MEN AND SAME-SEX DESIRE AND THE CONSTRUCTION OF MASCULINITIES IN DISCOURSE____28 1.1 THE STUDY OF MASCULINITIES AND SAME-SEX DESIRE: AN OVERVIEW_______________________________28 1.2 REVISITING THE CONCEPT OF HEGEMONIC MASCULINITY_______________________________________33 1.3 BEYOND THE CLOSET? THE SOCIAL REGULATION OF SAME-SEX DESIRE ___________________________________39 1.4 OVERVIEW OF STUDIES ON MASCULINITY AND SAMESEX DESIRE IN BRAZIL ______________________________ 41 1.5 DISCOURSE, MASCULINITY AND SEXUAL DESIRE: TOWARDS QUEER LINGUISTICS ______________________43 2 WHAT IS QUEER ABOUT QUEER THEORY IN BRAZIL? THE QUEER MATERIALITY OF MALE SAME-SEX DESIRE 51 2.1 QUEER THEORY: A BRIEF OVERVIEW ______________52 2.2 QUEER TROUBLE: CRITICAL ASPECTS OF QUEER THEORY ____________________________________________55 2.3 QUEER THEORY AND MATERIALISM _______________57 2.4 COMMODIFYING DESIRES: HOMONORMATIVITY AND THE PRIVATIZATION OF SEX _________________________65 2.5 QUEER MEETS BRAZIL: RETHINKING NORTHERN THEORIES ___________________________________________71 3 DESIGNING THE STUDY OF MASCULINITIES AND SAMESEX DESIRE IN MEN’S NARRATIVES ___________________ 73
xiii 3.1 SCOPE OF THE STUDY ____________________________73 3.2 DOING QUALITATIVE RESEARCH: COLLECTING NARRATIVE INTERVIEWS ____________________________74 3.3 ANALYZING NARRATIVES AS RECONTEXTUALIZED SOCIAL PRACTICES __________________________________79 4 ANALYZING MEN’S NARRATIVES AS SOCIAL PRACTICES IN THE CONTEXT _____________________________________81 4.1 INTERVIEWING AS A DISCURSIVE PRACTICE: MEN’S NARRATIVES IN THE CONTEXT _______________________81 4.2 NARRATIVES AS SOCIAL PRACTICES IN MEN’S DISCOURSES ________________________________________89 5 BETWEEN THE LOCAL AND THE GLOBAL: TENSIONS IN MEN’S DISCOURSE AND SEXUAL IDENTITY ____________94 5.1 “IT WAS LIKE I WAS A HOUSE HUSBAND”: REPRESENTATIONS OF MALE IDENTITIES IN MEN’S DISCOURSES ________________________________________94 5.2 “THEY DON’T KNOW HOW TO PUT THEMSELVES INTO THEIR RIGHT PLACE”: REPRESENTING THE HOMOSEXUAL AS ‘THE OTHER’ ____________________________________114 5.3 SUMMARY ______________________________________122 6. NEOLIBERAL PLEASURES: SAME-SEX DESIRE IN MEN’S DISCOURSES _________________________________________125 6.1 UNSPEAKABLE DESIRES: REPRESENTATIONS OF MALE HOMOSEXUAL DESIRE ______________________________125 6. 2 “NO ONE HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH WHAT PEOPLE DO INSIDE FOUR WALLS”: THE CONSTRUCTION OF A NEOLIBERAL HOMONORMATIVITY IN MEN’S DISCOURSES ____________________________________________________136 6.3 SUMMARY ______________________________________143
xiv 7. RETHINKING SUBJECTIVITY AND RESISTANCE: CONTRIBUTIONS, LIMITATIONS, IMPLICATIONS AND SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH ____________146 7.1 CONTRIBUTIONS ________________________________ 146 7.2 LIMITATIONS ___________________________________ 150 7.3 IMPLICATIONS AND SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH _________________________________________ 150 REFERENCES _________________________________________152 APPENDICES ________________________________________166
15 INTRODUCTION I would like to start this text in a ‘queer’ style. Stylistically, the traditional ‘norm’ in academic writing is to produce ‘objective’ descriptions of ‘reality’ and any subjective, personal or experiential intervention in the production of knowledge is seen with suspicious eyes, bringing the risk of loss of academic ‘credibility’. The queer style that I refer to lies exactly at an undefined, blurring space between those two styles, in an academic narrative that is not plain, ‘normalized’, objective. For me, it is hard, almost impossible, to diminish or efface my voice when I propose to examine narratives produced by other men using theories about gender, sexuality and language that have influenced the ongoing formation of my own subjectivity in profound ways. Hence, I take as a point of departure in this dissertation my own life narrative to introduce my critical study of narratives of men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM)1 in Brazil. As bell hooks highlights in a personal interview2, critical thinking has a transformative power as it enables people to forge creative ways to deal with their problems. I have the same feeling. Critical thinking made me aware that power has been insidious in my life since my childhood and so I have tried to master my own power to reconstruct myself and help people transform their own lives in positive ways. At a very early age, I felt the burden of masculinity on my childish body. Although I do not remember myself as a ‘sissy’ boy, one The term men-who-have-sex-with-men refers to “any man who has sex with a man” (UNAIDS, 2006, p. 1), thus encompassing a variety of sexual identities, including those who (occasionally) have sex with men but do not self-identify as homosexual, gay or bisexual. Although the term has been widely used in the medical and social research literatures, the implications and characteristics of its usage as a dominant identity have become critical to a range of social debates over selfhood, health, community and justice. Given the influential and problematic role of the category, Boellstroff (2011) argues that MSM is a “scientific and bureaucratic coinage” mainly for purposes of HIV/AIDS surveillance and behavior change, which made gay even more exclusionary and framed “men” and “sex” as stable and selfevident, therefore prediscursive (p. . As a consequence, the category MSM has contributed to the medicalization and depoliticization of homosexuality, contributing to the “hiding” of certain persons and practices (p. 305-306). Despite being fully aware of these problems with the term MSM, in this dissertation, I nonetheless use the category etically to refer to a network of men with different self-identified sexual identities (homosexual, heterosexual, gay, bisexual, etc.), which cannot be framed solely in terms of “gay” or “homosexual”. 2 Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQUuHFKP-9s. Retrieved on: November, 4th, 2014. 1
16 of my aunts would repeat to me: “Man up. C’mon, speak with a thick voice!”. At that time, I could not understand why she did that to me, but I felt misplaced and inadequate as if I were failing at doing something. In some way, she was trying to teach me how I should be. Yes, she did that with her best intentions. From that point on, things became clear to me. I realized that I belonged to a “man’s world” and therefore I would have to perform the gender role prescribed to me the moment I was born and identified as a boy. My father, a working-class ‘breadwinner’ man in a small town of Southern Brazil, projected many of his personal dreams and future expectations in my gender performance as an adult. My father was aware of the importance of education in one’s life (probably as a sign of social distinction), but nonetheless embraced a very traditional notion of masculinity based on physical prowess and the pursuit of public power. In some way, he tried to construct my masculinity as an extension of his own. I remember the times I used to spend with him at my grandfather’s ranch during my childhood years and his attempts at ‘training’ me on how to do things which, according to him, would be important for me in the future: riding a horse, managing cattle, fixing fences, slaughtering and butchering sheep, etc. Contrary to my father’s efforts to make me a ‘real’ man, I grew up as a tiny boy with a rich imagination who was curious about the world and loved to read books and create paintings. In relation to the boyhood standards of my social context, I was queer 3. However, sexuality was not (yet) an issue in my life and the main source of my queerness was my masculinity. At school, I do not remember myself as a target of homophobic acts, but I remember some episodes with a colleague of mine who suffered constant bullying because of his ‘soft, delicate’ voice. Even though I did not participate in those acts and was friends with him, I secretly nurtured an idea that he was ‘inferior’ in some way because of the dreadful treatment he received from the other boys.
As I point out in Chapter 3, the term “queer” has multiple meanings and interpretations. Regarding this matter, in this text, I do not use queer as a simple substitute to ‘gay’ or as an ‘insult’. Instead I use queer to refer to a a complex set of sexual behaviors, desires and performances who deviate from heterosexual gender norms. 3
17 Masculinity turned out to be a real problem to me when I became a teenager. Sexual experimentation with my peers at that time made me uncomfortable due to an increased desire to explore and feel the body of other boys. I had no clue about what was going on with me, but the possibility of my schoolmates perceiving me as ‘gay’ somehow terrified me. Being aware that something was going ‘wrong’ with the ‘natural’ development of my sexuality, I started to try hard to do the things that other boys did, such as teasing and harassing girls. Most of all, I was trying to convince myself that I was a ‘normal’ boy like them who was just going through a ‘normal phase’ in my sexual development. When I was 16, after an attempt to date a girl and one peculiar experience on a sex district of my hometown with one of my uncles, I ‘realized’ that my queer sexuality was not just a ‘normal phase’. I realized I was a ‘homosexual’, a member of a category of people whom I despised. Growing up in a small town, my view of male homosexuality was very limited, or even worse, stereotypical. Labelling myself ‘homosexual’ meant a ‘degrading, unhappy’ future for me and a source of shame for my family. On the other hand, hiding my true desires made me feel increasingly guilty for I was deceiving the ones I loved. Thus, I decided to come out to my mother first, and then my father later. Coming out to my father was not a traumatic experience in my life and surprisingly his attitude was not completely negative as I expected. Even though he pointed out that homosexuality was not “a bad thing at all” and emphasized ‘positive’ examples of gay men he met in his life, my father nevertheless secretly cried and blamed my mother for ‘turning me up gay’. After coming out and assuming a ‘homosexual identity’, I started yearning for romantic/sexual experiences. During this time, I faced several constraints and difficulties. As I lived in a small town in Brazil, there were no venues for LGBTIQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersexual, Queer) people (such as bars, saunas, sex clubs, etc.) and the few openly gay men who lived in town were somehow despised by the townsfolk, considered sick, perverts or even inverts (one of them even had a female nickname). In addition, during my teenager days my parents were facing severe financial problems that limited my leisure time at some local bars/nightclubs, and having a personal computer with Internet access was something quite expensive for the majority of the Brazilian population at the time. Furthermore, any
18 random sexual encounter was not followed up because of my fear of disclosure, which I saw as a source of shame to my family. I had my first homosexual encounter only two years after coming out, when I moved to a larger city to attend college. Notably, this new set of conditions triggered a series of personal crises in my life, which undermined my sense of a coherent ‘gay’ identity and forced me to theorize my own self and my conceptualization of other people’s subjectivities. This brief personal narrative is an example of the tensions and contradictions that many (young) men face in their lives regarding the construction of their masculinities and their engagement in same-sex practices. Contrary to traditional views on identity, which define it as an inborn, fixed and unified ‘core’, the narrative depicts a never-ending process of construction of the self as marked by fragmentation and contradiction. As Hall (2005, p. 12) points out, in late modernity identities are increasingly fractured and multiple, constructed across different and intersecting discourses and practices, in a process of ongoing change and transformation My personal narrative portrays a constant tension between the conflicting selves or identities I have assumed in the course of my life: a middle-low class young man raised in a provincial town who longed to live an ordinary life, dreaming of building my own (‘normal’ queer) family and performing a conventional masculine identity socially valued by my parents in Southern Brazil; but, at the same time, a young gay man living in urban Florianopólis, who has traveled abroad, pursues an academic career, engages in gender, gay/queer scholarship, has participated of LGBTIQ networks in Brazil and Long Island-New York (sometimes even performing as ‘drag’!) and experienced different kinds of romantic/sexual relationships and troubles of intimacy with male sexual partners. Considering men’s narratives as constructions of gendered and sexual selves, this research takes a critical approach to the study of masculinity and sexuality. From this perspective, masculinity is regarded as “a constantly changing collection of meanings that we construct through our relationships with ourselves, with each other, and with our world” (Kimmel, 2005, p. 25). In this sense, masculinity is not a single, definitive, natural expression of one’s biological sex, but a set of performances, embodiments and constructions, which are constantly
19 (re)created and challenged by people in different contexts. In other words, even though we cannot deny that masculinity may be related to certain features of the human body or ways of using the body, it is nevertheless a product of a set of cultural assumptions 4. Following the same perspective, human sexuality, desires and relationships can also be examined as historical situated practices, which are shaped by social institutions as a means of social regulation (Foucault, 1978b). From such perspective, sexuality is not only a powerful instinct, drive or energy originated from the body’s ‘natural’ biology and which must be controlled or contained (Freud, 1930), but a set of practices, behaviors, rituals, beliefs, identities and ideologies, which vary in different sexual cultures. This has been illustrated in the framework of sexuality proposed by Gayle Rubin (1984), in which contemporary sexuality is described as a hierarchical system of value/signification5 interwoven with discourses of hate, crime and fear disseminated in the U.S. during the late 1970’s through the 1980’s, which still remains as an organizing principle of sexuality in Western societies. Our ideas about the male penis, for instance, are socially constructed. In her article “Does size matter”, Susan Bordo (a feminist philosopher in the area of body studies) argues that men’s ideas about the penis derive from social interactions such as those between father and son, guys in locker rooms and also from the bodies of cultural icons (adult male porn stars). The humongous penis is a cultural fantasy celebrated in the media (e.g. gay male erotica) and literature (e.g. romance novels). In media discourses, penis size has been equated to manliness (Bordo, 1992, p. 23) and, in fact, penile augmentation has become an increasingly booming business catering to solve men’s insecurities. Evidence that very large penises are socially constructed is the fact that “many cultures have been somewhat ambivalent about them” (p. 24). In some cultures, as Bordo explains, the large penis functions as a symbol of reproductive fertility. However, in Ancient Greece, a highly masculinist culture, “small and taut” genitals were favored as symbols of self-control in terms of sexuality. 5 Rubin’s sexual system is a continuum based on general social discrimination between what is considered ‘good sex’ and ‘bad sex’ (1984, p. 154). Good sex is natural, organic, healthy and it is performed by heterosexual, married, monogamous couples at home (in private) with the primary aim of reproduction. In contrast, bad sex is illegitimate, abnormal, sinful, unnatural, usually performed in public spaces (at parks, on streets, at love hotels, at sex dungeons) involving homosexuals, transvestites, cross-dressers, transsexuals, sex workers and crossgenerational partners who may be engaged in sadomasochistic and fetishist sexual practices. Between these poles, lies a major area of contest, which divides public and expert opinions (represented by psychologists, psychiatrists, sexologists, philosophers, etc.). This area of contest between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ sexualities is characterized by social debates around themes such as promiscuity, masturbation, abortion, contraceptive methods, unmarried heterosexual couples, homosexual monogamous relationships and homosexuals in bars and bathhouses. 4
20 The organization of sexuality as a cultural specific system is the outcome of a wide range of social and historical factors such as regulations, political interventions, cultures of resistance, kinship and family systems, economic and social organization (Weeks, 1986). According to Weeks, the ‘natural’ conception of kinship based on the taboo of incest, present in different societies across history, has served as a mode of regulation of sex (p. 23-24). In the same way, different conceptions of family and its patterns of organization have affected sexual life in terms of reproduction and divorce rates, age of marriage, rules of inheritance, social welfare and cohabitation laws (p. 25). Regarding the influence of economic changes on sexuality, the formation of gay and lesbian urban communities such as those formed in New York and San Francisco in the late 1960’s has been considered a product of history. Historians like D’ Emilio (1983) argue that the transition from a rural society, in which the nuclear family was the central mode of economic production, to a wage labor one allowed individuals to explore their erotic desires more freely. Sexuality, from then on, became a way of establishing intimacy and pleasure, instead of a means of procreation, a paradigmatic change that provided the grounds for the emergence of a sexual political consciousness. Even though Brazil and North-America present some similarities in terms of a ‘gay liberation movement’, there are nevertheless important differences between their political, economic and cultural contexts that produce distinct conditions for the experience of same-sex relationships and embodiments of masculinity. In Brazil, the formation of gay/queer subcultures is a product of a gradual and complex process involving multiple factors (Green, 1999, p. 268). According to Green’s historical account, different cultural expressions were at play in this process. Starting in the 1950’s, early expressions of queer subcultures paved the way for a discussion on gender and sexual dissidence in Brazil such as: drag balls and costume contests with bonecas (transvestites), the appropriation of Carnival by homosexuals as an opportunity for playing with gender, the publication of home-crafted gossip magazines and the popularity of bonecas as expressions of high femininity in show business. Later on, by the mid-1970’s, ideas from the international gay movement, indigenous critiques of machismo and homophobia, the emergence of leftist political movements and the increasing number of upper-middle class gay consumers provided the
21 grounds for the emergence of social movements centered on a ‘gay identity’. Despite the emergence of modern forms of sexual expression in the country from then on, family systems, traditional gender roles and economic/social organizations still play a pivotal role in the shaping of sexual subjectivities in Brazil and Latin America in general. Murray (1995, p. 33) points out that Latin American men, regardless of their sexual orientation, tend to live with their families of origin until they marry or, if they do not marry, many of them continue to live in their childhood homes indefinitely. Family also holds an important economic function for workingclass people in Brazil because “the economic survival [of the family members] depends on the permanence of an individual in the family domain until they get married (and, in many cases, after marriage, due to their lack of housing)” (Marsiaj, 2003, p. 140). In this context, the visibility of same-sex relationships and the possibilities for the emergence of a collective consciousness of sex politics are much more limited for gays, lesbians (and trans) from the working classes. Two recent studies demonstrate the complex dynamics of exclusion, stigma and shame in the lives of Brazilian MSM regarding the intersection of same-sex desire, masculinity, social class and race. Furlong (2011) analyzed the performances of masculinity of queer men in Rio de Janeiro in order to verify which performances were allowed, tolerated or forbidden in different neighborhoods of the city. The study consisted of 83 semi-structured interviews, conducted between 2008 and 2010, through photo-elicitation (a method of interviewing in which the researcher asks the respondents to talk about a set of photographs) and participant observation. Furlong’s study showed that although the upperclass neighborhoods of Rio de Janeiro’s ‘zona sul’ are seen and advertised as gay-friendly and characterized by a tolerance of queer performances, they still reproduce systems of exclusion and prejudice based on race, class and gender. In his words: “The southern region of Rio de Janeiro is considered a space for white, rich, fashionable and
22 masculine men. On the other hand, it is considered an intolerant space for poor, black, kitsch and effeminate men.” (p. 257) 6. Miskolci (2013) conducted an online ethnography with men who search for same-sex encounters in chat rooms in São Paulo, Brazil. Specifically, the participants of his study were men who called themselves “Machos” and “Brothers” – a common slang at some online spaces in Brazil to refer to men who engage in same-sex practices, but consider themselves “discreto” (“discreet”, able to pass off as straight) and “fora do meio” (not part of the Brazilian gay scene). In order to carry out his investigation, Miskolci actively participated in online interactions in the field as a strategy to gather 13 semi-structured interviews and to observe the lives of four men with whom he developed a close relationship in the course of two years. The social profile of the men he observed is white, middle-upper class, college educated, working in professional careers considered somewhat traditional (lawyers, physicians, executives, etc.), raised in Catholic families and originally from small or mid-sized Brazilian towns. Miskolci’s study is relevant because it exposes the complex dynamics and the instabilities in the relationships established by those men and the contradictions in their search for the embodiment of and desire for a “heterosexual masculinity”, described in the Brazilian popular culture as ‘homem de verdade’ (‘a real man’). However, his study does not include MSM from working classes and/or currently living in small towns. In addition, neither of the two studies (Furlong, 2011; Miskolci, 2013) explicitly points out the ways heterosexual masculinity, social class positioning, racialized “others” and sexual scripts are constructed and reproduced through language. In Brazil, the media has been giving increasing attention to emerging issues on masculinities and sexualities. At the time I was writing this dissertation, a TV show in a major Brazilian network showed a performance of men who “burned their underwear” while claiming for new rights regarding their ‘male identities’. Some of the rights they were claiming for were: “the right to cry”, “the right to earn less than their women”, “the right to fail in sex”, etc. This performance, Original quote: “A Zona Sul do Rio de Janeiro é considerada como um espaço de homens brancos, ricos, na moda e masculinos. Por outro lado, foi considerado um espaço intolerante para homens pobres, negros, fora da moda e efeminados”. 6
23 of course, purposefully recalled the now classic demonstration of women burning their bras during the famous 1968 Miss America protest7 in Atlantic City against the strict gender norms they were subjected to. Indeed, patriarchy is not only oppressive to women (as we used to think in the past), but it is also oppressive to men themselves, many of whom are unable to achieve the ideals of manhood expected from them (hooks, 2004, p. 31). In terms of sexual identities, there has also been a recent portrayal in two Brazilian soap operas of same-sex romance: a secret affair between a married, presumed ‘heterosexual’, middle-aged man and his young athletic male lover, and the ‘lesbian kiss’ of two elderly women, which caused public controversy among viewers who criticized the depiction of same-sex intimacy on the screen. Despite the attention given by the Brazilian media to contemporary gender/sexual issues and emerging subjectivities, it has failed to address and raise awareness about the rise in hate crimes against LGBTIQ people and the countless cases of sexual violence against women8. According to reports from the Bahia Gay Group, one of the oldest organizations for the defense of human rights in the country, every two days a gay, lesbian or transvestite is murdered, totalling 130 deaths a year. Since the publication of the report Epidemic of Hate by the same group, jointly with the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (Mott, 1996), there has been no official report or discussion in the Brazilian mainstream media about this urgent social
The feminist protest was organized by New York Radical Women and included about 400 women who tossed a collection of feminine symbolic products (such as pots, mops, fake eyelashes, etc.) into a trashcan. The demonstration drew worldwide media attention to the Women’s Liberation Movement. The bra-burning trope was a consequence of an analogy drawn by a reporter covering the event between the feminist protesters and Vietnam War protesters who burned their draft cards and it became a catch-phrase of the feminist era. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miss_America_protest. Retrieved on May, 30 th, 2015. 8 Despite some achievements for the feminist movements against gender violence, such as the Maria da Penha law and the recent law on femicide, which impose stricter penalties to domestic violence and women’s assassinations by men, police reports and data from the Brazilian Unified Health System (SUS) show that the number of rape cases in the country has increased by 168 percent from 2009 to 2013. Source: http://www.correiobraziliense.com.br/app/noticia/brasil/2013/04/02/interna_brasil,357919/regi stros-de-estupro-aumentaram-168-em-cinco-anos-no-brasil.shtml. Retrieved on: November, 11th, 2014.
24 problem. Even worse, most of the perpetrators of the hate crimes remain unpunished. As we can see, the debate and the movements for the rights of Brazilian sexual minorities have produced a tension between old, traditional, local identities and new, contemporary, global identities. As Denis Altman (2013) has pointed out, gay has gone ‘global’. Western gay images, symbols, concepts and lifestyles have spread across most parts of the world, transforming the ‘native’ understandings of gender and sexuality of some societies (p. 138). In the past, bichas (faggots), sapatonas (dykes), travestis (transvestites), bofes (macho men who presumably take the sexual role of penetrators) and other marginalized sexual identities apparently occupied and engaged in pre-established and strictly defined sexual relationships, sexual roles and social spaces in Brazil’s cultural imaginary (see Parker, 1994; Green, 1999). However, the development of international human rights, especially LGBTIQ rights (epitomized by the image of the Stonewall riots in New York in 1969), has allowed those identities to assimilate and ultimately recreate traditional gendered and sexual roles in Brazilian society. Again, at the time I was writing this dissertation, there was a case highly covered by the Brazilian media that exemplifies the process mentioned above. It concerned a collective wedding ceremony with several couples, including a lesbian couple, set to take place at a Gaucho’s Tradition Center (CTG) in the state of Rio Grande do Sul (RS), in Southern Brazil. This type of socio-cultural organization is characterized by strict gender norms and ideals of manhood and femininity that date back to the 18th century. Women are usually dressed up as prendas, wearing fancy dresses and make up, while men are dressed up as gauchos, wearing leather boots, baggy pants, shirt, scarf and a kind of ‘cowboy’ hat. At gaucho balls, men are always the ones supposed to invite women to dance and the songs celebrate the courage, virility and strength of the gaucho manhood, while at times depreciating or mocking women, thus reaffirming the power of the males over the females. Given the importance of CTGs as spaces for the reproduction of traditional cultural values in RS-Brazil, some locals saw the same-sex wedding ceremony as a threat to those values. Consequently, one resident set fire to the center in order to prevent the ceremony from taking place there. As a result of the efforts from activists, the CTG’s
25 boss and the district attorney, who defended the rights of the LGBTIQ population, the collective ceremony took place at the city’s courthouse, gathering attention from the national media and government officials and receiving ovation from the public 9. My initial reaction to the event described above was to criticize the lesbian couple’s choice of venue for their wedding ceremony, which I saw as both embarrassing and awkward for themselves and ‘disrespectful’ of other people’s cultural norms. However, as I further reflected upon the issue I reviewed my position. I realized that my reading of the event was essentialist, assuming people can choose between a ‘homosexual identity’ and a gaucho identity 10. Most homosexual men and women (and transgender people as well) all over the world reproduce (or at least would like to) heterosexual performances, discourses and ideologies because heteronormativity is (still) the dominant mode of being and relating. In Southern Brazil, especially in the countryside, children are usually trained from a very early age to perform as gauchos and prendas (e.g. boys learn how to ride horses, dance at balls, prepare barbecues while girls learn to sit gracefully, to do household chores and dance at balls as well (usually allowing their male partner to lead the dance). Successful performances of gaucho identity are a great source of pride for parents. Not surprisingly, local homosexual men and women reiterate this tradition because it becomes an intrinsic part of their ‘selves’. In this process, the traditional ‘normalizes’ queer people at the same time that queer identities renovate the traditional (which runs the risk of losing its status of ‘tradition’, causing social distress). Considering all the above, this dissertation examines Brazilian men’s narratives as spaces for the negotiation of conflicting meanings 9
Source: http://www1.folha.uol.com.br/cotidiano/2014/09/1515804-apos-incendio-em-ctgcasamento-gay-e-celebrado-em-forum-no-rs.shtml. Retrieved on: November, 11 th, 2014. 10 Butler (1993, p. x), for instance, rejects the notion that someone chooses to perform an identity, which implies a pre-existent subject who does the choosing. On the contrary, she argues that a matrix of (gender) relations serves as the basis for the constitution of subjects. This matrix is not a set of impersonal structural forces such as Culture, Discourse or Power, which still maintain a humanist view of construction. In her view, construction is a “process of reiteration by which both “subjects” and “acts” come to appear at all” (p. 9). Hence, the repetition of acts over time (e.g. gaucho’s gendered acts and homosexual acts) materializes (fragmented) subjects, producing an effect of fixity, naturalness or rather, the illusion of a ‘coherent identity’.
26 and for the reproduction or disruption of ways of experiencing masculinity and sexuality. This process is characterized by a constant clash between traditional local identities and new global identities, as well as by the possibilities of desire available to men who occupy different social classes. In this work, each narrative provides a unique perspective on the different ways of living as a man available for males who desire other males in the context of the Brazilian society. The research aims at providing answers to the following research questions: 1. How do Brazilian MSM represent themselves as male social actors and their own actions in personal narratives? 2. How do they recontextualize certain social practices related to sexuality (such as coming out, dating) in their life narratives? 3. In which ways do they negotiate conflicting discourses and identities in storytelling? The dissertation is divided into 7 chapters. Chapter 1 provides an overview of studies on masculinities and same-sex desire, a discussion of key-concepts and a theorization of masculinity, same-sex desire and discourse. Chapter 2 provides a theoretical discussion on queer studies in dialogue with historical materialism. Chapter 3 describes the methodology adopted in the study. In Chapter 4, I analyze and discuss men’s narrative interviews as discursive practices and provide an overview of the narrative themes that emerged from the interviews. Chapters 5 and 6 report the critical analysis of the identified narratives. Finally, in Chapter 7, I point out some contributions, implications, limitations of the study and directions for further research.
28 1 STUDIES ON MEN AND SAME-SEX DESIRE AND THE CONSTRUCTION OF MASCULINITIES IN DISCOURSE When we think about the supposed natural aspects of masculinity, we usually employ language, but because language already contains so much cultural baggage, it is impossible to think about masculinity without wondering what kinds of cultural assumptions are already at play just by talking about the seemingly natural. (Reeser, 2010, p. 12) This chapter provides a theoretical overview of studies on men, masculinities and same-sex desire, departing from research on a global scale (Section 1.1) and later focusing on studies carried out in Brazil (Section 1.4). Throughout the chapter, I also revisit some key concepts used in the research, such as hegemonic masculinity (Section 1.2) and the notion of gay ‘closet’ (Section 1.3). Finally, in section 1.5, I explain the relations among masculinity, same-sex desire and language.
1.1 THE STUDY OF MASCULINITIES AND SAME-SEX DESIRE: AN OVERVIEW The institutionalization of the Feminist movement in the 70’s in the U.S, which challenged social, political and economic gender relations, brought serious consequences to men, putting their power position in society at risk. In this context, some scholars assumed that there was also a need to study the place of men in the gender order, founding a new area of studies called ‘men studies’, which investigates the social construction of masculinity in different institutional contexts (family, work, school, etc.). Although the foundation of the area was a remarkable step towards the denaturalization of masculinity as a biological, innate quality, the scope of the area of men’s studies in the 70’s was very limited, focusing on the investigation of white, middleclass male practices (Edwards, 2006). Considering the need to adopt a more inclusive approach to the study of masculinity, in the 80’s scholars started to examine more closely the experiences of Black, Latino, Asian,
29 working-class and gay men11, as well as the link of masculinity with crime and violence (Kimmel & Messner, 1989). Despite the increasing number of studies about men in those two early decades, the study of masculinities only became a consolidated area of research in the U.S. in the 90’s (Heilborn & Carrara, 1998). This period of time also marks the beginning of what Edwards (2006) calls the “third wave” of studies on masculinity which, mainly informed by post-structuralism (including queer theory, see Sedgwick, 1990, Butler, 1993), criticized several dichotomies (such as sex/gender, body/mind, heterosexual/homosexual) that reinforce essentialist views on gender and sexuality. Currently, three leading researchers on men and masculinities in the global North are Michael Kimmel, Raewyn Connell and Jeff Hearn. Kimmel is an American sociologist who has published extensively on gender relations, masculinity and men’s relation to Feminism. He is the editor of the journal Men and Masculinities and the executive director of The Center for The Study of Men and Masculinities at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. In his book The Gendered Society (2000), the author examines gender difference as a result of gender inequality across a wide range of social institutions around the world such as the workplace, family, school, politics. Two other important publications by Kimmel are Manhood in America (1996), in which he offers a detailed account of the changes in masculinity across American history, and Guyland (2008), in which he investigates young men’s lives in the US. Connell is an Australian social scientist who has carried out research across a variety of fields such as gender studies, education, political science and history. Her 1995 book, Masculinities, is a now classic work in the field of men and masculinities and has been used across a wide range of disciplines, providing a critical feminist analysis
A pioneer study on the sociology of masculinity and same-sex desire was carried out by sociologist Martin Levine in the late 70’s in New York’s growing gay community of Greenwich Village. Levine was interested in the emergence of the “gay clone” – a new kind of gay hypermasculinity that challenged the notion of gay men as “failed men”. His work was edited and posthumously published as a book (Levine, 1998) by his friend and colleague Michael Kimmel.
30 of men’s life histories that emphasizes the role of individual men in the reproduction of relations of domination. Hearn is a British sociologist who has conducted research on men in different areas such as management, organizations, social welfare, reproduction and men’s violence. In his book, Men in the Public Eye (1992), he provides a pioneer discussion on public patriarchies - men’s positions of power in different public domains such as organizations, the Armed Forces, offices - and the process of publicization of men’s private lives (e.g. fatherhood, sexualities, procreation, marriage, etc.). Hearn argues that the deconstruction of traditional and new masculinities in the public and private domains is a theoretical, political and personal endeavor for both men and women, which is necessary for the achievement of material and discursive changes in unequal gender relations. Kimmel, Hearn and Connell also edited the Handbook of Research on Men and Masculinities (2005), which provides scholars with an overview of studies on masculinities across various disciplines and approaches, primarily the social sciences. Concerning the topic of this dissertation – masculinity and same-sex desire -, three chapters from the handbook raise some relevant issues for the purposes of this research. Edwards (2005) explores the contradictions between masculinity and homosexuality. One contradiction is the term gay liberation, which is ambiguous as it does not clearly define what is being liberated (a sexual desire, a sexual identity, a sexual community, or all three?). Drawing on Walter (1980), the author notes that, at a basic level, gay liberation emphasizes the act of coming out, which works across three interconnected stages: (1) accepting one’s own (homo)sexuality; (2) experiencing it with others of the same kind; and (3) announcing it with pride to the rest of the world. However, he finds another ambiguity in this process because coming out is represented either as a matter of personal choice or an act of political affirmation that presumes the freeing of an essential, inner, asocial self (p. 56). In the context of this research, I assume that this apparently predictable process of liberation, synthesized as a coherent ‘coming out’ discourse, is in fact complex, fragmented and contradictory, which requires looking at (homo)sexual subjects beyond the notion of the closet (see Section 1.3 futher down).
31 Another relevant issue concerning masculinity and same-sex desire is the situation of men in the Third World. Morrell and Swart (2005) point out that for many men in the Third World, two realities coexist: a traditional, rural reality and a modern, urban one. The authors argue that these men are positioned in a continuum between outright rejection of their family of origin and independence with residual connection (occasional trips to visit the family in rural areas). In this context, both realities produce a simultaneous effect on identity (p. 104). Despite the deep impact of globalization on men all over the world (e.g. global ‘gay’ identities), the authors call attention to the need to address issues such as changes in masculinities, gender equality and sexual diversity by considering indigenous knowledges, in order to allow men to make sense of new possibilities in the context of local conditions (p. 101). This need is also stressed by Gutmann and Vigoya (2005), who observe that scholars from Latin America, in contrast to scholars who conduct research about Latin America, have been concerned with developing and adapting theories to explain the specific cultural processes in different parts of the region, helping deconstruct generalizations about Latin American men usually found in studies conducted by researchers from the global North. Hegemonic ideas about masculinity are complicated when applied to the context of the global South. For instance, Ratele (2014) argues that research on masculinities in South Africa requires the analysis of ‘hegemony within marginality’. South Africa occupies a marginal position in the global capitalist order. In a society burdened by severe social problems (such as unemployment, poverty, high rates of HIV and gender violence), research and intervention targeting men in the country has tended to conceive African masculinity as a ‘problem’ and reinforce a strong aversion to African culture (p. 32). In addition, traditional masculinities in South Africa have been mistakenly conceived as hegemonic (for a discussion of Connell’s concept of hegemonic masculinity, see Section 1.2 further down), dismissing the specific lived experiences of men and boys and “the colonial history of land dispossession, Apartheid’s regime resettlement of black population in rural ‘homelands’, urban influx control, and migrancy ‘home’” (p. 39). For these reasons, Ratele suggests a “tradition-sensitive” approach to the study of South African masculinities, one that explores local hegemonic masculinities in a world of “dislocation, homelessness”. In
32 such a world, tradition is a way of reasserting a sense of belonging and a claim to authority, which highlights the constructed, changeable, hybrid shape of masculinities in the global South (p. 41). Tradition is an integral part of the self in marginal worlds and it is transformed and appropriated by ‘modern’ global (sexual) identities, as I illustrated through the case of the ‘lesbian wedding’ in Southern Brazil12 (see Introduction, p. 24). In addition to the complex situation of masculinities in the South, there is also a research gap in the field of men and masculinities regarding the study of dissident male sexualities. Currently, the majority of sociological inquiry on masculinity and same-sex desire still focuses exclusively on the lives of ‘gay’ men. Nardi’s book (2000), for instance, is a collection on the subject of gay masculinities that provides a discussion on several aspects of the lives of gay men such as: gay youth and masculinity (Mutchler, 2000); gay men’s friendships with straight men (Fee, 2000); gay male domestic violence (Cruz, 2000); masculinity and risk (Linneman, 2000); religion in the lives of gay Latinos (Rodriguez & Ouellette, 2000); the “buff agenda” of HIV positive men (Halkitis, 2000); working-class gay men and masculinity (Barret, 2000); and gay female impersonators and the construction of gender hierarchies (Schacht, 2000). On the other hand, a large body of research on men in the health sciences has investigated HIV and sexually transmitted diseases and prevention among MSM (which also includes gay men, but not exclusively). Even though the shift from an identity-based research (gay) to a behavior-based one (having sex with other men) somewhat emphasizes the fluidity of men’s sexual experiences, most studies still failed to examine MSM’s sexualities as complex processes affected by local conditions, cultural frames, gender-sexual scripts and racial/ethnic identities13. 12
Ratele also uses a South African gay wedding as an illustrative case in his article. A recent qualitative investigation on the influence of masculine socialization on black MSM’s risky sexual behaviors is reported on Malebranche et al. (2009). One interesting finding of the study is the “low self-love” mentioned by many participants, which is related to two concepts: (1) a sense of disempowerment among Black men associated to their historical oppression; and (2) lack of love from a biological father or a Black male role model. The study is relevant because it offers an intersectional analysis of MSM that demonstrates the ways same-sex sexuality is intertwined with race, gender and class issues. 13
33 Brignol (2013) conducted an epidemiological study on HIV infection among MSM in Salvador, BA, Brazil that reinforces the need to consider dimensions of “vulnerability” of MSM regarding HIV and syphilis infection, such as social, cultural, political, institutional and individual realms of human experience (p. 96). However, her use of terms such as “sexual identities” and “spaces of gay sociability” are rather confusing. She indicates that social stigma is one dimension of vulnerability in the lives of MSM because most of the participants of her research do not disclose their “sexual identity” to people whom they are living with (p. 97). By making such claim, she fails to acknowledge that many MSM voluntarily choose not to reveal their same-sex experiences because they either do not associate (homo)sexual practices with identity or do not consider themselves homosexual men since they are living with a female partner. In addition, the term “spaces of gay sociability” is misleading because some MSM do not attend those commercial places (such as saunas, bars, nightclubs, sex clubs, etc.), which they consider part of the ‘gay scene’ (meio gay), but prefer to have sexual encounters or meet potential sexual partners at ‘cruising areas’ (such as public restrooms, parks, beaches, etc.), or online. In view of this scenario, research on men and same-sex desire (including studies on men’s health) needs to pay attention to the ‘invisible’ sexual lives of some MSM, which constitute quite difficult objects of investigation. According to a recent UNAIDS (the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS) report (2012, p. 5-8), MSM is a specific group most affected by HIV transmission because fear, stigma and discrimination make people avoid using health services and discourages the adoption of individual behaviors and self-care as well as care in relation to other people. In this dissertation, I do not specifically explore the sexual practices of MSM (e.g. condom use), rather I focus on the discourses that emerge from their life narratives, and which construct them as male sexual agents.
1.2 REVISITING THE CONCEPT OF HEGEMONIC MASCULINITY One major development in the study of masculinities was the introduction of the concept “hegemonic masculinity” (Connell, 1995). It
34 has been cited in hundreds of publications around the world, in different areas of knowledge, and it has been the focus of much debate in the area of masculinity studies. In Connell’s words, “hegemonic masculinity is not a fixed character type, always and everywhere the same. It is, rather, the masculinity that occupies the hegemonic position in a given pattern of gender relations, a position always contestable” (1995, p. 76). In other words, hegemonic masculinity focuses on the relations of power between men, exploring the interplay between axes of social difference such as gender, race and class in men’s lives. Based on different critiques to and definitions of hegemonic masculinity, Christensen and Jensen (2014, p. 62-63) offer three major clarifications of the concept. The first major conceptual clarification regards its usage as a fixed, transnational model, which underscores the historicity of gender and changes and contradictions in the experience of masculinity (Connell & Messerchmidt, 2005, p. 838). In order to clarify her usage of the concept, Connell has acknowledged that hegemonic masculinity may refer to the lives of a minority of men and does not describe exactly the characteristics of actual men (ibid.). In view of such limitations in the term, Beasley (2008) suggests that it should be regarded as “a political ideal or model, as an enabling mode of representation which mobilizes institutions and practices” (p. 94). Besides this shift of focus, the author also argues that hegemonic masculinity should be seen as hierarchical and plural in order to take into account local level experiences and “to highlight the ways in which different hegemonic masculinities are negotiated and even resisted” (p. 99). Conceptualizing masculinity, therefore, requires a greater focus on the symbolic, the analysis of representations and discourses, a focus on local/cultural practices, as well as in constructions of masculinity and the complexity, fragmentation of identities. Based on this premise, in this research I adopt the term cultures of masculinity (Edwards, 2006) to refer to the cultural and local ideals of masculinity (e.g. gaucho masculinity) that are reproduced in men’s discourses. Given the discursive and cultural dimension of hegemonic masculinity, a second major issue is its relation to the concept of hegemony, coined by cultural Marxist Antonio Gramsci (1971). According to Gramsci, hegemony is the dominance of the ruling class over the working classes based on persuasion as a strategy to create consent and make bourgeois class interests appear to be common
35 interests. Hegemony, in this sense, is not a one-hand, top-down exercise of power, but requires the active participation of subaltern groups in the maintenance of social order. It is dynamic and unstable since the emergence of counter-discourses challenges its dominant status, and ultimately gives way to new, altered forms of hegemony. For this reason, scholars have argued that the study of masculinities should move beyond the assumption of fixed categories and include questions of antagonism and resistance, which are inherent to the concept of hegemony itself (Christensen & Jensen, 2014, p. 62-63). A third problem in the concept of hegemonic masculinity is that it originally referred both to the patriarchal domination of men over women and to the hierarchical relations between men. Although this double conceptualization was relevant for theorizing masculinities, Christensen and Jensen argue that it is problematic because it simplifies the complex relationship between internal and external hegemony (p. 63). For Messerchmidt (2012, p. 72), the power of certain men over other men (internal hegemony) does not necessarily legitimate patriarchal domination of men over women (external hegemony). Based on this assumption, the author offers a distinction between hegemonic masculinity and two other non-hegemonic forms of masculinity – dominant masculinity and dominating masculinity. According to his classification, hegemonic masculinity is the achievement of cultural consensus of some men over other men and women, legitimating patriarchal gender relations. In contrast, dominant masculinity is an authoritative form of masculinity in a given social formation that constitutes a norm that tends to marginalize the non-normative (e.g. ‘normal’, straight-acting gay men), while dominating masculinity involves the use of overt raw force to oppress men who deviate from the norm (e.g. homo/transphobic men). Even though Messerchmidt’s conceptualization brings new insights to the study of masculinity, it nonetheless fails to theorize some complex issues in masculinity as a place in the gender order. For instance, the privileged status of dominant masculinities within a specific social group does involve the achievement of cultural consensus within the group. Several studies have pointed out that a ‘very straight’ embodiment of masculinity has become an ideal among men who have sex with other men (Higgins, 2006; Lambert, 2006; Martino, 2006). The
36 normalization of the ‘homosexual’ is a growing social phenomenon reproduced through (hetero)normative discourses across different media and everyday interactions (e.g. dating/hooking up apps and websites, chat rooms, glossy magazines, TV shows, popular books). Compulsory ‘straight-acting’ performances may be considered reiterations of hegemonic masculinity in a twofold sense: (1) they reinforce the hegemony of heteronormativity as the dominant mode of being and relating in different societies and; (2) they entail the repudiation of the feminine and the assertion of gender hierarchies in which the masculine is eroticized as a site of power. As Martino (2006, p. 38) explains: Although it could be argued that there is subversive potential in the appropriation of straight-acting masculinities for gay men who defy the mainstream culture’s representation and positioning of gay men as the “feminized faggot”, the “masculinity confirming” (Renold, 2003) discourses that are mobilized by these men are circumscribed within the regulatory apparatus of heterosexuality that is invested in essentializing, naturalizing, and eroticizing a form of masculine power – a power that is produced through the force of constituting an abjected feminized Other as its “own founding repudiation” (Butler, 1993: 3). It is in this sense that the appropriation of straight-acting masculinity constitutes what is termed by Bersani (1995) as the “heterosexualising of homosexuality” (p. 132). What is emphasised and, in fact, reinforced by these men in their assertions are gender hierarchies that circumscribe sense, it is a heteronormative economy of desire that gets internalized by these men, one built on reinstating gender binaries and gender hierarchies. Gay men or men who engage in sex with other men occupy a contradictory position in the gender order and their relationship with women, Feminisms and femininity are still issues not thoroughly explored in feminist and masculinity literature. In her analysis of writings by scholars of masculinity and popular literature written by and for gay men, Ward (2000, p. 154) points out three problematic tendencies regarding gay men and masculinity: (a) the tendency to conceptualize gay men as “symbolic of the men’s possible “arrival”
37 beyond sexism; (b) the tendency to treat gay men as “women’s partners’ in victimization” by the patriarchy and; (c) the tendency to approach gay men’s sexism as “internalization of, or resistance to, heterosexual values and culture”. As a resolution, she suggests that scholars still need to recognize the differences and similarities between homosexual men and heterosexual men, with a focus on what she calls “queer sexism” – a complex form of sexism enacted by gay men which is presumed to be inexistent or irrelevant. In a recent conference paper (Nascimento, 2014b), I emphasized that the world of business is still dominated by men and is associated to a specific ideal of “transnational business masculinity” (Connell & Wood, 2005) – a successful executive occupying a managerial position in a transnational corporation that operates across global markets. Connell explains that this specific type of masculinity shares some key characteristics with bourgeois masculinities: “association with authority; social conservatism; compulsory heterosexuality; integration with a family division of labor; strongly marked symbolic gender differences; and emotional distance between men and women” (p. 348). Even though the author found dissident expressions of business masculinity in her research with 11 Australian men (for example, a high number of ‘out’ gay men in the workplace), data from her study suggests that only ‘straight-acting’ gay men in monogamist relations are assimilated to the business world and, consequently, have the opportunity to reach managerial positions. In such context, men are constantly monitored by their peers not only in terms of their working capacities, but also in terms of their gender performances (straight-acting) and sexuality (‘good sex’ – private, monogamist). In short, transnational masculinity is a contemporary expression of a historical pattern of bonds of friendship, affection, mentorship and rivalry between men (Sedgwick, 1985, p. 1) who are supposedly heterosexual or at least straight-acting (in the case of gay men), and it serves to maintain unequal gender and class relations and the powerless social position of either openly homosexual or genderqueer men. Regarding what Messerchmidt called internal hegemony – the power relations and differences between men, another hierarchy is proposed by Connell in her seminal work on masculinities (1995). She
38 distinguishes three other types of masculinities within hegemonic masculinity (p. 78-81): (1) complicit masculinities – men who consent to hegemonic forms of masculinity in order to obtain patriarchal privileges (e.g. ‘closeted’ gay men); (2) subordinated masculinities – men who are subordinated in specific gender relations of domination (e.g. openly (effeminate) gay men) and; (3) marginalized masculinities – men who do not hold authority due to their race or class positions (e.g. black and working-class men). Connell’s contribution to understanding the relationships among men through the lens of hegemony is valuable, albeit her framework offers a set of singular categories that do not fully explore the complexities in the networks of those relations of power. In that respect, I would rather assume that men occupy simultaneous positions across those three types of masculinity. In order to grasp the complexities of masculinity, Christensen and Jensen (2014) suggest an intersectional approach to stress the interaction between social categories such as class, race/ethnicity, age and sexuality. Intersectionality, as they point out, is a ‘travelling concept’ developed across different contexts and disciplines originated from North-American black feminist debates (Creenshaw, 1991; Collins, 1993) that challenged “white middleclass women’s dominance in the women’s movement and black men’s dominance in antiracist organizations” (p. 68). In relation to men, Christensen and Jensen argue that intersectionality is revealing of the ways the category man is also characterized by disempowerment and lack of privilege (p. 70). For instance, some gay men have reduced access to certain patriarchal privileges because their masculinity (as a symbolic form) is either exaggerated or depreciated when enmeshed with homosexuality: they are socially constructed either as ‘sexual predators’ characterized by an essential ‘uncontrollable sexual urge’ or as ‘failed men’ who lack masculinity and virility. In this research, I take this intersectional view into consideration to investigate men’s narratives with a focus on the ways their experiences (mediated through language) present a mutually constitutive and contradictory process of identity formation.
39 1.3 BEYOND THE CLOSET? THE SOCIAL REGULATION OF SAME-SEX DESIRE In the previous section, I argued that the construction of a masculine self is an ongoing, simultaneous negotiation of meanings and performances affected by sexual desire, class position and race. In addition, I pointed out that the relations among masculinities are complex, variable and should be seen as a site of struggle to achieve hegemony and, consequently, access to symbolic and/or material privileges. Considering these theoretical premises, in this section I discuss ‘the closet’ as a social structure, a mechanism or pattern that regulates the same-sex desire of some men. In her groundbreaking work Epistemology of The Closet (1990), Eve Sedgwick declared that the closet is “the defining structure for gay oppression in the [20th] century” (p. 71), which (still) is a main source of grief, silence and loss for many homosexual men and women. Sedgwick explains that the notion of the homosexual “closet” derives from the modern homo/heterosexual definition, which is central for the creation of systems of knowledge and power relations in Western culture. Heterosexuality and homosexuality are commonly understood as a set of symmetrical binary oppositions, but a critical analysis demonstrates that this relationship is not symmetrical at all because homosexuality is subordinated to heterosexuality, which occupies a neutral and universal epistemological position (Sedgwick, 1990, p. 10). For instance, heterosexuality is public, obvious, visible, implicit, legal and natural, while homosexuality is private, disguised, invisible, implicit, illegal, illegitimate, unnatural. Under the logic of this system, “coming out of the closet” represents the disclosure of a “private secret”, which is depicted as a matter of individual, private “choice”. However, the revelation of this “secret”, regularly interpreted as an act of self-empowerment, does not mean that someone is completely out of the closet or holds authority to speak for oneself. Homosexuality is not self-evident (since some gay men adopt straight-acting performances) and even when someone has come out publicly, he/she may need to come out again several times throughout his/her life during every new social interaction, and deal with negative social representations and judgments from straight people (who hold an epistemological position of power that allows them to speak about
40 homosexuality). In this sense, the term homosexual thrives exactly because of its negative connotations, by implying attributes that are rejected by heterosexual people (Sedgwick, 1990, p. 83). In popular culture, “the homosexual” is still seen as a despised figure, predatory, promiscuous and a threat to family life and the ‘naturalness’ of gender. If the closet is defined as a structure at a social level, reproducing the polarization of heterosexual and homosexual identities, at an individual level it can be understood as a series of patterns of actions and decisions that shape individuals’ lives in order to conceal their same-sex desire and avoid the negative consequences and losses inflicted by assuming a homosexual identity in certain social circumstances and spaces. In this sense, theorizing beyond the closet requires understanding that nowadays the closet is not necessarily a condition of social oppression for some people or a well-defined feature of identity (“closeted”), rather it “means different things to people depending on their age, income, gender, sense of self, and the strength of their homo - and heterosexual feelings (…) and simply coming out does not rid us of feelings of shame and guilt, and that visibility alone does not threaten heterosexual privilege” (Seidman, 2002, p. 7). Based on this assumption, Seidman (2002) provides a series of case studies that illustrate the varying shapes of lives inside, outside and beyond the closet. In general, he argues that some people live openly as gay, fashioning satisfying enough lives, but nevertheless hide their homosexuality in certain specific situations, or choose to live a “virtually normal” gay life (by marrying, having children, conforming to gender norms and becoming “good citizens”), or adopt a heterosexual performance to avoid suspicion about their homosexuality, or simply experience same-sex desire as a separate homosexual “impulse”, which does not involve feelings of repression and guilt. In this dissertation, I discuss my data in relation to the findings of Seidman’s study in order to identify which closet patterns emerge in the life narratives of Brazilian MSM, considering the intersection of masculinity and (homo)sexuality. However, in contrast to Seidman’s study, I also take a critical view on language and explore the contradictions and ambiguities present in their discourses.
41 1.4 OVERVIEW OF STUDIES ON MASCULINITY AND SAMESEX DESIRE IN BRAZIL Masculinity, as an object of inquiry, started receiving attention in Brazil only in the ‘90s (Heilborn & Carrara, 1998; Oliveira, 1998), despite some early historical and anthropological studies (Guimarães, 1974; Fry & Macrae, 1983; Mott, 1985; Trevisan, 1986; Perlongher, 1987) which attempted to describe the historical development of male homosexuality in the country based on several historical documents, interviews and texts published by the mass media. Lately, a major focus of investigation has been the examination of practices, identity politics and public policies concerning the large Brazilian LGBTIQ community and activism (Colling, 2011; de la Dehesa, 2010; Mello et al., 2014). Specific research on masculinity and same-sex desire is still scarce and a recent development in Brazil. Most studies, focusing primarily on the lives of Brazilian gay men, have included different topics across various social contexts, using different approaches, for instance: the impact of new technologies of communication (Internet) as means for the construction of spaces of identity legitimation in gay blogs (Alonge, 2007); the power dynamics in intimate relationships between gay men usually involving physical or symbolic violence (Castro, 2007); the normalization of gays and lesbians in Brazilian soap operas (Beleli, 2009); the sexual practices, erotic desires and performances of masculinity of men who attend sex clubs (Braz, 2009); online constructions of gay, bisexual and queer masculinities (Zago, 2009; Lewis, 2012; Nascimento & Figueiredo, 2013); barebacking and transgressive masculinities (Silva, 2009); the commodification of ‘hegemonic’ masculinities in gay male magazines (Lima, 2001; Azevedo, 2010; Nascimento, 2011); homosexuality and ageing (Mota, 2012); gender relations and sexual diversity in the Brazilian Landless Movement (MST) (Leite & Dimenstein, 2012); racial representations in gay pornography (Pinho, 2012); the emergence of transmen in Brazil (Almeida, 2012); cultural anthropological analyses of North-American movies and documentaries on the representation of masculinity and/or same-sex desire (Borges, 2013; Klein et al., 2013; Louro, 2013; Passamani, 2013; Silva, 2013); and the intersection of ethnicity, homosexuality and religion in the discourses of indigenous people (Tota, 2013).
42 One very influential publication on male homosexualities and emerging gay communities in Brazil is Parker (1999). Richard G. Parker has been conducting research in Brazil since the early 1980s, focusing on social aspects of HIV such as social inequality and the construction of gender and sexuality. Parker (1999) reports more than fifteen years of his research in Brazil in two primary research sites, Rio de Janeiro and Fortaleza, and provides a rich portrait of local sexual cultures and the ways they are affected by global processes of change. Even though Parker’s account of Brazilian homosexualities is a central text for understanding the connection between sexuality, culture and politics, his work is best described, in his own words, as “a collection of fragments, slices of life, bits and pieces that we have tried to capture of the slippery subject that we have sought to understand something about” [my emphasis] (1999, p. 23). Parker concedes that his work on Brazilian homosexualities does not make any pretense to offer a “totalizing view” on the subject (ibid.), possibly because of two reasons: the increasing fluidity of sexual categories in late modernity and the anonymity and impersonality of some sexual encounters between men, which poses several methodological challenges to researchers (see Chapter 3). One type of sexual subjectivity that is not addressed in Parker’s account is the increasing number of MSM in Brazil who define themselves as ‘heterosexuals’ or g0ys14, claiming not be part of an “urban gay world”. Although this type of sexual category holds a strong similarity to the Brazilian bofe (which Parker best translates as “stud”), who displays a macho performance and it is assumed to be the “active” partner in sexual intercourse (top), they nonetheless differ in significant ways. One of the main arguments of this dissertation is that heterosexuality as a public performance is a central feature for the construction of a masculine identity by some Brazilian MSM and the maintenance of symbolic and material privileges. In addition, I also argue that the emergence of this complex sexual subjectivity in Brazil G0ys (spelled with a zero) are “men who love masculinity, but don’t identify as ‘gay’” (http://g0ys.org/). They are part of a social movement started in the U.S. around 2008 that rejects “gay stereotypes” and anal sex. In Brazil, the movement was introduced by discussions on masculinity in blogs and social networks and it has an official website called hetero g0y (http://heterogoy.webnode.com/sobre-nos/), which provides a brief history of the movement and an explanation of the meaning of g0y as a ‘new’ identity. 14
43 reenacts traditional, local ideologies, while appropriating certain global identities (“the global gay”) and responding to social movements which have constituted a form of (heterosexual) backlash against gay culture/homosexuality in contemporary societies. In sum, this dissertation offers an analysis of “bits and pieces” of language that reveal the ways Brazilian men negotiate in discourse their complex subjectivities as men who desire other men in a social context (still) characterized by compulsory heterosexuality, gender violence and unequal distribution of wealth and resources. 1.5 DISCOURSE, MASCULINITY TOWARDS QUEER LINGUISTICS
Before finishing this chapter, one central question still needs to be throughly discussed: what does masculinity and same-sex desire have to do with language? One answer to this question is that our understandings of masculinity and sexual desire and what we understand as ‘reality’ is largely mediated by language in different social institutions. As Cameron and Kulick (2003, p. 10-12) explain, the way we make sense of ourselves and the way we do things in the world (such as performing gender and having sex) are influenced by the discourses on sex and sexuality available to us in our social and cultural contexts. Western women and gay men, in particular, comprise the target audience of many commodified media discourses (frequently circulated in magazines) that ‘teach’ and ‘represent’ ways of doing sex or body sculpting such as: “can you increase your libido: we find out”, “GT sex survey: your hidden sex secrets exposed”, “self-sucking: how far would you go to find satisfaction?”, “sex addiction: is getting laid too much ruining your life?”, “how much does a perfect body cost?”, “the strange sexuality of Indian people”, “quiz: what do you know about sex?”.15 Another example is the popular figure of Rambo and its embodiment of masculinity characterized by attributes such as male power, strength and 15
The examples are coverlines of two gay-oriented magazines from Brazil and the UK respectively: G Magazine and Gay Times.
44 warrior heroism, which serves as a vehicle for the reproduction of “patriotic and masculist ideologies which were significant during the Reagan era” (Kellner, 1995, p. 60). In short, media discourses and the co-construction of masculinity and sexual roles and scripts in day-to-day interactions both legitimate and foreground certain types of male sexual identities and social practices and disparage and background others, serving as “occasions for the exercise of power and domination and for the perpetration or creation of social inequalities” (De Fina & Georgakopoulou, 2012, p. 125) Specifically, this research takes a critical view to the study of language for the construction of masculine identities. Critical Discourse Analysis (henceforth CDA) is a contemporary approach (mainly associated with Norman Fairclough) for the analysis of language that focuses on how identities, social relations and knowledge are constructed in texts for the exercise of power in different social institutions. CDA adopts a tridimensional conception of discourse that considers three elements for text analysis: (1) the text itself as an instance of language use; (2) the interaction or discursive practice realized by the text (see Chapter 4) and; (3) the context or the social practice in which the text unfolds (Fairclough, 1992). Text is a semiotic\linguistic materialization of a social event (Fairclough, 2003, p. 24), any instance of language use (spoken, written, visual, etc.) that performs a role in a context (Halliday, 1989, p. 10). As a unit of meaning, a text is composed by different levels of complexity, such as vocabulary (lexis), grammar (word combination), sentences and text structure (cohesion) (Fairclough, 1992, p. 75). Discursive practice, in its turn, refers to the processes of production, consumption and reproduction of texts in a given society. The nature of these processes is social and each discourse is produced in specific political, economic and instituional contexts (1992, p. 71). The production and the consumption of texts involves the exploration of discourse conventions associated to an order of discourse and the interpretation of texts based on the knowledge shared by a given social group. If discursive practice involves the selection of language forms for the expression of meanings, on a broader level, the social practice, which the text is only a part, constitutes a condition for the realization of
45 the discursive practice and, at the same time, the result of this practice. Social practices are the “socially regulated ways of doing things” (van Leeuwen, 2008, p. 6) - a set of assumptions, cultural beliefs, prescriptions, suggestions or traditions that serve as guidelines for (inter)acting in the world. In this research, for instance, interviews are materializations of a discursive practice – an oral face-to-face interview between an academic researcher and and a research subject who engage in mutual communicative work to produce life narratives or accounts on issues around masculinity and homoerotic romantic\sexual relations. Texts and social practices therefore hold a dialectical relationship: the form of a text is shaped by social practice whilst the discursive practice (realized by the text) reflects and reproduces the social practice. This study explores narratives as recontextualized social practices (van Leeuwen, 2008). Narratives, like any other text that circulates in society, draw from and transform social practices (van Leeuwen, 2008, p. 5). For instance, advice columns on male gayoriented magazines provide recontextualizations of certain ‘social practices of gay sexuality’. They originate from a given sexual practice that readers engaged with (e.g. ‘bottoming’, i.e. receptive anal sex), which is recontextualized in the narrative form as a ‘problem’ (e.g. “I felt too much pain during the first time”) by the reader who may be himself influenced by ‘moral’ discourses on sex (“anal sex is sinful, not natural”). This recontextualized ‘problem’, in turn, is recontextualized again through the practice of journalism, in which an ‘expert’ (e.g. an urologist, who probably has never engaged in receptive anal sex) analyzes and interprets the reader’s problem and provides a series of ‘instructions’ that must be followed to achieve ‘success’. On the other hand, if the reader decides not to follow the expert’s advice and ‘perform’ the practice (‘bottoming’) again with several different men or taking different sexual positions, he might ‘realize’ he is not a ‘bottom’, but a ‘top’ or he is a ‘gouine’ (gay men who engage only in foreplay) or maybe asexual. By doing so, the reader would produce his own ‘perspective’ on the practice, which defines not only his own ‘sexual identity’, but also informs surveys on gay/human sexuality. Concerning CDA as a theoretical-analytical approach to texts and social practices, its more recent versions (Chouliaraki & Fairclough, 1999; Fairclough, 2003) show a movement of CDA toward a
46 theorization not only of discourse, but also the social. Those new versions do not dismiss the previous model, but frame it into a wider theoretical framework, which combines social theories and linguistic theories for the analysis of discursive practices in late modernity (Choliaraki & Fairclough, 1999, p. 16). This dissertation, thus, investigates masculinities and same-sex desire as as sociolinguistic phenomena informed by a set of theorizations of the social - sociological and anthropological works on male homosexualities (this chapter), a queer materialist approach (see Chapter 2) – in tandem with a framework for the critical analysis of discourse. Identities, social relations and knowledge are produced by language when people make semiotic choices across a network of systems (words, images, gestures, intonation) for producing meaning constitutive of social practices (Halliday 1989, 3-4; Chouliaraki & Fairclough, 1999, 28). In this sense, CDA is frequently combined with a systemic functional view of language, in which language is described in terms of three macro-dimensions of meaning or metafunctions (Halliday, 2004, p. 29-30):
Ideational Metafunction – the ways we use language to represent entities and happenings in empirical/outer or imaginary/inner worlds (as signaled by linguistic exponents referring to participants, processes and circumstances); Interpersonal Metafunction – the ways we use language to enact identities, relationships and alignments between participants and to express degrees of certainty and obligation in an interaction (as signaled by linguistic exponents referring to mood and modality systems); Textual Metafunction – the ways we use language to organize our messages into coherent and cohesive text structures (as signaled by linguistic exponents referring to thematic and information structures).
This dissertation focuses mainly on the analysis of ideational meanings and occasionaly on interpersonal meanings. In other words, it focuses on the analysis of representations of male social actors and their social actions (and reactions) with the aid of a set of analytical categories proposed by van Leeuwen (2008), which may include:
Role allocation – “the roles that social actors are given to play in representations” such as “agent” (“actor”) and “patient” (“goal”) regarding a given action (“process”) (van Leeuwen, 2008, p. 32). E.g. He put his hand on my leg like this and I was shaking.16 Genericization – the representiation of a participant in terms of its generalized feature or “essence” (van Leeuwen, 2008, p. 35). E.g. I guess that a man… concerning this stuff of bringing trouble to a couple, he is more straightforward.17 Association – the grouping of social actors usually through parataxis and “circumstances of accompaniment” (van Leeuwen, 2008, p. 38-39). E.g.: With my mother, I always took care of everything – “the man of the house”.18 Identification – the representation of social actors “in terms of what they, more or less permanently are” (van Leeuwen, 2008, p. 40), as a form of categorization. E.g.: I remember that there was a boy, Marcelo, who was openly gay and everybody messed him up.19 Differentiation – the creation of differences between two (or a group of) social actors, which produces a relation of opposition between the ‘self’ and the ‘other’, “us” and “them”. (van Leeuwen, 208, p. 40). E.g.: E.g.: I guess that there is no need for homosexuals to fight for it [marriage]… because it seems there is a fight to want to be equal… to be treated in a special way.20 Impersonalization – the representation of social actors “by abstract or concrete nouns whose meanings do not include the semantic feature “human” (van Leeuween, 2008, p. 46 ). E.g.:
All the examples here were extracted from the corpus of this study and translated to English. In Brazilian Portuguese: Ele colocou a mão na minha perna e eu tremia. 17 In Brazilian Portuguese: Eu acho que o homem… nessas coisas de botar encrenca em um casal que já existe, ele é mais correto. 18 In Brazilian Portuguese: Com a minha mãe eu sempre tomei partido em tudo – “o homem da casa”. 19 In Brazilian Portuguese: Eu lembro que tinha um rapaz, o Marcelo, que era gay assumido e todo mundo mexia com ele. 20 In Brazilian Portuguese: Eu acho que não precisava os homosexuais brigarem por isso… porque parece que há uma briga para querer ser igual… ser tratado de maneira especial.
They told me [something] like this: “We’ve prayed to God, he’s decided, not us (…)”.21 Objectivation – the representation of social actions statically as entities or qualities (van Leeuwen, 2008, p. 63). E.g.: I guess that it is just that… there is a control of the media [concerning gay visibility].22 Deagentialization – the representations of actions as “brought about in other ways, impervious to human agency – through natural forces, unconscious processes, and so on” (van Leeuwen, 2008, p. 66). E.g.: And suddenly, Fabio, it seemed that the music stopped playing [by itself]… and around me, like, a very intense light appeared.23
Overall, then, CDA has two major interconnected aims: (1) to make visible the significant role of language in the production, reproduction of and change in relations of power and (2) to make people aware of this constitutive role of language as a way to promote social emancipation. In the context of this research, doing a critical analysis of men’s discourses highlights the significant role of language for the production of hierarchies of sexual identities and contributes to denaturalize and expose the very contructdness of heteronormativity as a site of power and control in Brazil and in many other societies around the world. One way to attain this goal is to take advantage of the connections between CDA, as a branch of discourse analysis, and queer theory (see Chapter 3), since the latter is “an exercise of discourse analysis [that] takes very seriously the significance of words and the power of language” (Giffney, 2009, p. 7). As a strand of research, Queer Linguistics is very recent (Leap, 2013; Motsembacher & Stegu, 2013) and, in Brazil, it is a promising field (Lewis, 2012; Santos Filho, 2012; Borba, 2015). Though Queer Linguistics is not the only mode of critical In Brazilian Portuguese: Eles falaram assim: “A gente orou para Deus, ele decidiu, não nós (…)”. 22 In Brazilian Portuguese: Eu acho que é só isso… tá havendo um controle da mídia [com relação à visibilidade gay] 23 In Brazilian Portuguese: E de repente, Fabio, a música parece que se desligou... e na minha volta, assim, veio uma luz muito intensa. 21
49 inquiry of relations between language, gender and sexuality, it nonetheless remains extremely relevant as a challenge not only to the heteronormative order, but also to homonormativity (see Chapter 2, section 2.4). Thus, doing a critical analysis of masculinities as a social and discursive phenomenom also entails a theorization of sexual subjectivation and its material effects on people’s lives, as I discuss in the next chapter.
51 2 WHAT IS QUEER ABOUT QUEER THEORY IN BRAZIL? THE QUEER MATERIALITY OF MALE SAME-SEX DESIRE Under capitalism, most people’s lives are laced with contradictions. For most of us, the contradiction between being “free to work” yet barred from reaping the full value of our labor is a very basic one, but it may not be the contradiction we experience as the most distressing. In fact, what we experience more painfully may be the ways this contradiction is both compounded and played out in racist institutional practices, in the shamming effects of homophobia, or in any of the other oppressive ways difference is made intelligible and translated into strategies of exclusion and abjection. These include mechanisms for closing some people out of resources like food, housing, education, and health care, as well as the more amorphous but nonetheless vital array of material needs that also comprise one’s ability to thrive – for example, the need to be safe, loved, and treated with dignity and respect. (Hennessy, 2000, p. 5, my emphasis)
As I mentioned in Chapter 1, this research takes Queer Linguistics as a paradigm that combines discourse analysis (in this case, CDA) with a (materialist) queer perspective for the analysis of MSM’s discourses in contemporary Brazil. In this chapter, I explain what this queer perspective means, by reviewing and criticizing important works in the area, and point out its relevance for the study of sexual identities in the global South. This chapter therefore comprises: an overview of the main tenets of queer theory (Section 2.1); an overview of its critical aspects (Section 2.2); a dialogue between materialism and queer theory (Section 2.3); a brief discussion on the commodification of desire in late
52 capitalism (Section 2.4); and a general argument on the need to rethink queer theory in the Brazilian context (Section2.5).
2.1 QUEER THEORY: A BRIEF OVERVIEW The term “queer”, once used as a derogatory expression in English-speaking countries to refer to deviant sexualities, from the early 1990’s on has acquired a respectable connotation when coupled with theory. The phrase “queer theory” has been credited to Teresa de Lauretis, a critical theorist who edited a special issue of the cultural studies journal Differences in 1991. The issue was the result of a working conference that aimed to offer critique and resistance to the cultural homogenization of lesbian and gay identities in dominant discourses in order “to construct another discursive horizon, another way to thinking the sexual” (de Lauretis, 1991, p. iv). On the other hand, de Lauretis also notes that queer theory is also a mode of conceptual inquiry in discourse production (ibid.). In other words, queer theory emphasizes the differences between and within sexual subjectivities in terms of social categories such as race, ethnic culture, class, gender, nationality, disability and, at the same time, offers itself as a critical standpoint to the very process of knowledge construction. Even though de Lauretis first used the phrase “queer theory” in the early 1990’s, the origins of the theory arguably date back to the mid1980’s in the work of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, who is considered the founder of the field. In Between Men: English literature and male homosocial desire (1985), Sedgwick offers a pioneer ‘queer’ reading of selected English nineteenth-century novels in order to demonstrate that Western society is “a male-dominated kinship system” in which both homophobia and women’s oppression are necessary consequences (p. 23). She argues that this kinship system is reproduced through the centrality of male bonding (and consequently the undervaluing of women as products of an “exchange”) expressed through the discontinuity between male homosociality (the social desire between men) and homosexuality. Another key publication in queer theory by Sedgwick is Epistemology of The Closet (1990) (see Chapter 1, section 1.3).
53 In addition to Sedgwick’s work, four other publications are considered key-texts, each offering reflections on or critiques to gender identity, essentialism, heteronormativity and social institutions. In Essentially Speaking (1989), Diana Fuss scrutinizes the essentialismconstructionism binarism, a central debate in feminist theories. Her main argument is that the essentialist-construcionist divide is unstable and permeable: on the one hand, there is no essence to essentialism since it holds internal differences and serves political purposes in a particular set of discourses; on the other hand, she argues that constructionism itself “operates as a sophisticated form of essentialism” (p. xii). In Gender Trouble (1990), Butler claims that the common identity of women as the proper subject of Feminism is problematic because it produces a reification of gender that misrepresents women’s subjectivities. To ground her critique, Butler contests the idea that gender is culturally constructed and its understanding as separate from biological sex (p. 6). Instead, she argues that “gender must also designate the very apparatus of production whereby the sexes themselves are established” (p. 7). This argument is further elaborated in Bodies that Matter (1993), in which Butler uses Foucault and psychoanalysis in an attempt to theorize the materiality of the body. Her main argument is that bodies come to existence and are shaped, delineated and controlled through discursive means inscribed into a heteronormative order. The body, thus, is a site of struggle and also the materialization of discourses (legal, medical, juridical, etc.) that legitimate certain possibilities of owning certain bodies and experiencing certain forms of sexuality. Butler claims that gender acquires its substance because of performativity, the reiteration, the repeated citation and imitation of conventional gender norms: “There is no gender identity behind the expressions of gender; that identity is performatively constituted by the very ‘expressions’ that are said to be its results” (p. 25). In this sense, performing a gender and “assuming” a sex is a matter of identification within a bound and exclusionary heterosexual binary gender matrix (p. 3). Another key publication in queer theory is Fear of a Queer Planet (1993), edited by Michael Warner, a collection of papers that foregrounds the importance of queer theory as a new way of engaging with social theory. In the Introduction, Warner points out that the task of queer theory is to challenge both the heterosexual social institutions (and
54 “universalizing” theories) that oppress queer people but also the “institutions of queer culture”, which have been dominated by middleclass, white gay men from Anglo-American contexts (1993, p. xvii). He also calls attention to the rise, at that time, of international sexual politics, which demands theoretical languages that encompass both the global and the local dimensions of queer sexuality (p. vii). Drawing on poststructuralist thinking, at its core queer theory denounces the mismatches between sex, gender and desire in order to theorize sexuality beyond the hetero-homosexual dyad and the lesbian and gay identity politics. It includes, for instance, theorization on issues such as cross-dressing, intersex, androgyny, bisexuality, transsexuality, etc. In the context of this research, for instance, queer theory is useful for theorizing the contradictions and complexities in the lives of men who sexually desire other men, and can help us delve into the ways heterosexual norms and traditional sexual/gender scripts of Brazilian culture figure in the lives of MSM; how they reinforce heterosexuality as the dominant mode of relating while rendering homosexuality a private secret, a “discreet impulse”; and which ambiguities, contradictions and tensions are constitutive of their discourses. Since its emergence, queer theory has gained prominence as an interdisciplinary field of inquiry, and consequently many academic courses on the topic have flourished around the globe. Regarding Brazil, although there is no strand of research on queer theory, it nonetheless has been the topic of an impressive number of publications, especially in the fields of Education, Sociology and Literature (see Louro, 2001; Costa & Àvila, 2005; Bento & Pelucio, 2012; Miskolci, 2012), and academic seminars such as Queering Paradigms IV at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, I Perspectivas Queer em Debate and Colóquio Visualidades Queer at Federal University of Santa Catarina and, more recently Seminário Desfazendo Gênero at Federal University of Bahia. Despite this movement towards the development of a loosely defined field, queer theory is best described as an ensemble of different knowledges (with its roots in French poststructuralism, specifically in the works of Foucault, Derrida and Lacan) that aim to deconstruct, problematize and revise theories on subjectivity and challenge the normative power of social institutions (e. g. marriage, religion, government, the mass media).
55 2.2 QUEER TROUBLE: CRITICAL ASPECTS OF QUEER THEORY In this section, I point out some critical aspects of queer theory in order to bring it into ‘trouble’ and consequently destabilize its current mainstream status. Before presenting some major critiques to queer theory, I need of course to point out the positive features of the theory in an attempt to transcend the negative-positive binary. Let me make myself clear: I do not reject queer theory as a way of theorizing sexual dissidence, nor do I fail to acknowledge its importance, but I do believe that without a cautious approach the theory may present itself as a ‘fiction of the individual’. To uncritical eyes, queer may offer the promise of unlimited freedom in which autonomous beings are responsible for fashioning their bodies, selves and sexualities according to their individual ‘will’, backgrounding or, even worse, erasing the role of material and economic forces in people’s lives. It becomes a distortion that reproduces a harmful neoliberal ideology based on political ideals of dignity, individual freedom and personal choice taken as “the central values of civilization” (Harvey, 2005, p. 5), which downplays the fact that ‘freedom’, ‘mobility’ and ‘choice’ are only available to some people (usually Western, white, upper-middle class, heterosexual). Considering this , I argue further down (in section 2.5) that, in order to produce social change, queer theory needs to be adapted and reshaped when exported to new contexts of queer experience (e.g. the global South). On a positive note, queer theory is relevant because it reminds us that we are ‘different’, no matter how we categorize our sexual identities (as lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender or even heterosexuals who do not conform to the established gender norms). It recognizes and brings into the limelight the discontinuities and tensions in sexual identities as a way of giving legitimacy to erased, unheard voices. Consequently, it enables the emergence of local politics based on shared goals, affiliations and common identifications (e.g. the queer politics of ‘barebacking’- men who advocate their right to engage in unprotected sex, resisting the broadly accepted culture of safe sex (see Dean, 2009). In addition, queer theory celebrates self-reinvention and openness as an act of freedom in an attempt to escape the regimes of normalcy that shape and limit our ways of being and desiring. It also highlights the
56 role of language and interaction for the construction and reproduction of binary systems of knowledge as modes of power that shape human (sexual) behavior in Western societies. Despite the relevance and impressive academic success queer theory has achieved in the last few years, it nonetheless has been the target of a fair share of critiques from Marxist theorists, sociologists, philosophers and cultural critics. Susan Bordo (1993), for example, criticizes some cultural constructionist scholars (e.g. Judith Butler) who have adopted a radical position that conceives the biological body as a fiction (“a textualist view of the body”). Bordo claims that “Butler’s world is one in which language swallows everything up, voraciously, a theoretical pasta machine through which the categories of competing frameworks are pressed and reprocessed as ‘tropes’” (p. 291). In contrast, she draws on Foucault’s genealogy to argue that the body should be conceived as a product of both discourse and other institutional and everyday practices, which cannot be inferred only from its textual surface. For Bordo, Butler’s famous view of “body in drag” as a subversive act is presented as an abstract, simple linguistic structure that does not consider cultural context or the readers who interpret it (p. 292-293). Bordo’s critique is echoed in Steven Seidman’s (1995) discussion of the tensions between queer theory and sociology. He also argues that “queer theorists have often surrendered to a narrow culturalism or textualism” disarticulated from a critique of the social conditions in which the texts are produced. Hence, he claims that the “social” is conceived only in terms of categories of knowledge and culture, while culture itself is framed in terms of discursive binary figures (p. 139). Another site of struggle in queer theory is its presumed invisible relation to capitalism as a class-based system of production. NeoMarxists have claimed that the theory privileges the inquiry of “desires over needs” (Cover, 1999, p. 29). In other words, they claim that sexuality (as an unconscious yearning) remains the primary object of analysis while downplaying (or excluding) the inquiry of material relations of exploitation reproduced under capitalism. Rosemary Hennessy, a Marxist feminist, argues that this erasure in queer theory is based on “the notion that social organization is primarily symbolic” (2000, p. 60), which conceives social class as an “articulation of symbolic (subject) positions” (ibid.).
57 Queer theorists, such as Judith Butler, adopt a constitutive perspective on discourse aligned with the theory developed by political discourse analysts Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, who claim that “every object is constituted as an object of discourse, insofar as no object is given outside every discursive condition of emergence” (1985, p. 107). In their view, discourses are material in the sense that the material world is constituted entirely by discourse - for instance, social institutions (e.g. schools) and their specific material features (e.g. architecture) are materializations of different discourses about education. This does not mean that ‘reality’ does not exist (a usual misreading of Laclau and Mouffe’s theory), but that our access to it is always mediated by language. However, even though we can envisage new shapes for social institutions and articulate new relations among its elements, the materialization of a given “articulation” is nevertheless constrained by the material relations and the simultaneous social positionings of ‘subjects’ in terms of gender, race, sexual orientation, age, nationality, etc.
2.3 QUEER THEORY AND MATERIALISM In order to address the contemporary debate between queer theorists/poststructuralists and historical materialists, in this section I critically review the arguments of two essays which are central for the present discussion. The first essay, Merely Cultural (1998), by Judith Butler, is her response to two general claims about queer theory made by Marxist scholars: (1) the claim that Marxist scholarship and activism have been reduced to the study of culture; and (2) the claim that social movements are “merely cultural”, which renders them “identitarian and particularistic”, and consequently derivative from and secondary to more orthodox forms of Marxism (p. 33-36). As an initial response to those claims, Butler suggests that the parody of cultural politics by Marxists entails a form of temporary identification, a desire to take part or occupy the very position of the position parodied – “to acquire and appropriate [the] very iconicity… to enter into and drive the media, to become popular, and to triumph in the very cultural terms that have been acquired by those one seeks to demean” (p. 35). Although Butler is right to assume that orthodox
58 Marxism has lost the prestige it once had, her theorization of the Marxist critique as a form of parody and identification drives attention away from the problems (and limits) of cultural politics. When she states “there is no reason to assume that such social movements are reducible to their identitarian formations” (p. 37), she seems oblivious to the fact that queer politics has failed to address the link between sexuality and relations of production. One question that remains unanswered is: In which ways queering identities, public spaces, and commodities help transform the relations of labor and the structures of capitalism? For Butler, queering sexual identities has an impact on the functioning of political economy because it constitutes “a fundamental threat to its workability” (p. 42). Drawing on Marxism and Feminism of the 1970s, Butler argues that “the economic, tied to the reproductive, is necessarily linked to the reproduction of heterosexuality (…) [as] a specific mode of sexual production and exchange that works to maintain the stability of gender, the het of desire, and the naturalization of family” (ibid.). Under this logic, she understands the reproduction of ‘naturalized’ sexes and heterosexual bonds as a mode of ‘recognition’ of certain persons that confers them entitlement to legal and economic privileges (e.g. tax and property laws, medical insurance, citizenship). Even though I agree with Butler that the production of “abject” persons prevents them from receiving economic privileges, protection from the state and from attaining leadership positions in the corporate world , I nevertheless see her argument as totalizing because she overlooks the contradictions of the capitalist system. The workability of the system, based on unequal relations of economic exchange, does not entirely depend on the reproduction of family and heterosexual desire. I would rather argue that the workability of capitalism, characterized by unequal relations of labor partly depends on a set of unequal relations of power in terms of gender, race, class, sexuality, nationality, etc., which are historically-specific and reproduced by social institutions. In order to further elaborate this argument, I frame it in the light of Fraser’s concept of “misrecognition” cited in her response to Butler. In the second essay, “Heterosexism, misrecognition and capitalism”, Fraser (1997) defines misrecognition as being “denied the status of full partner in social interaction and prevented from participating as a peer in social life (…) as a consequence of institutionalized patterns of interpretation and evaluation that constitute one as comparatively
59 unworthy of respect or esteem” (p. 280). Some examples of misrecognition are: the association of racialized persons (e.g. blacks) with criminality, which is perpetrated by institutions of social control (e.g. police); the representation of single mothers as sexually irresponsible, which has been pervasive in religious institutions; the erasure of gay/lesbian/trans people from school textbooks. Fraser points out that misrecognition (institutionalized unequal social relations) is analytically distinct from maldistribution (the unequal division of labor and distribution of income), but concedes that the former may be accompanied by the latter (p. 280). For instance, working class people in Brazil have been traditionally misrecognized – denied access to or discouraged from participating in certain social spaces (e.g. public universities) due to their lack of “symbolic capital”, or have been represented as “inferior”, “stupid”, “lazy” and/or “grotesque” by the Brazilian media (Mendonça & Jordão, 2014). Those misrecognitions are not economic per se (one could argue that the rich and the poor are simply ‘different’ and that poor people are ‘essentially primitive’). However, they nevertheless entail economic maldistribution – the attempt of Brazilian elite sectors to rule out social welfare programs (e.g. “Bolsa Família”, racial quotas) that benefit working class families. Besides understanding the oppression of queer people (and other subjectivities) as a matter of recognition which has material (and sometimes) economic effects, my argument also implies the understanding that the heterosexual family, as a mode of social production, is not a requirement for the reproduction of unequal labor relations. As D’Emilio (1983) has noted, the formation of gay and lesbian communities in the major capitals of the U.S. was also a result of historical changes, which allowed individuals to live through wage labor outside their families of origin. Nowadays, many gay and lesbians have been increasingly assimilated to capitalism, constituting what economists have called “the pink economy” – the production of goods and services targeted to the “LGBTIQ community”. During my experience as a spectator of the New York City’s LGBTIQ Pride Parade in 2014, I could witness this phenomenon of ‘assimilation through consumerism’ more closely. The parade featured several ‘gay-friendly’ companies and organizations (including religious institutions) which sponsored the event and LGBTIQ initiatives. Despite my initial enthusiasm towards the event, I eventually became distressed
60 when I realized that ‘acceptance comes with a price tag’. A Mastercard’s banner really got my attention for the dubious message it conveyed (see Figure 1). I read the slogan “Acceptance Matters” combined with a Mastercard’s logo in two senses: Mastercard advocates the “acceptance” of LGBTIQ people, echoing a contemporary sexual rights discourse, but at the same time it implies that the “acceptance” of your Mastercard “matters” because this (your purchasing power) is what makes your queerness “accepted”. Unfortunately, one implication of this assimilation of gays and lesbians to consumerism is the misrecognition of those who hold a very low purchasing power - queers of color and trans people. Consequently, they have very limited participation in processes of decision-making regarding LGBTIQ issues, despite being the main bearers of material/economic harms resulting from capitalism, such as violence and unemployment.
Figure 1 – NYC Pride 2014 sponsored by MasterCard Source: http://www.snackfixation.com/in-new-york-city-acceptancematters-mc/
Despite the increasing recognition of gays and lesbians (and women) and their assimilation as consumers to capitalism, which does not depend on the nuclear family as a mode of production, members of
61 these groups nonetheless hold the position of exploited laborers in relation to heterosexual men (see Table 1).
Table 1 - Education and annual earnings of North-American domestic couples Homosexual couples Men Women
Heterosexual couples Men Women
A. Percentage at levels of education Less than high school 6.8 7.7 12.2 High school 18.8 19.1 31.0 Some college 31.2 30.6 28.9 Bachelor’s degree or higher 43.2 42.7 27.9 B. Earned income High school educated $22,106 $18,546 $31,000 College educated 56,898 45,169 71, 601 C. Mean percent in typically female 47.0% 54.8% 38.7% occupation N 15,098 15,754 2,971, 440 Source: Adapted from Black, Sanders & Taylor (2007, p. 64-65).
Table 1 presents the percentages of homosexual and heterosexual men and women at different levels of education (Category A), their earned incomes (Category B, in U$ dollars) and the mean percent in typically female occupation (Category C), according to Black, Sanders & Taylor’s (2007) calculation and data from the 2000 US Decennial Census. The statistics show that North-American homosexual men are significantly more educated than heterosexual men and NorthAmerican homosexual women are more educated than heterosexual women. However, despite the higher level of education of gay men, their earned income is about 25 percent lower (on average) than the earned income of heterosexual men with the same level of education. In contrast, lesbian women’s earned income is much higher than the earned income of heterosexual women, but still slightly lower than the income of gay men and much lower than the income of heterosexual men. Category B of Table 1 (Earned income) therefore demonstrates the interplay of two ‘identity’ categories (gender and sexuality) on the earnings of homosexual and heterosexual men and women. Not
62 surprisingly, heterosexual men have the highest earned income, while heterosexual women have the lowest income among the four groups, which confirms the position of powerlessness of women despite their increasing participation in the workforce. According to Richard Zweigenhaft, co-author of the book The New CEOs: (...) the large majority of corporate directors in 2011 were white males (74.4%), and the group with the second-highest frequency was white women (13.3%), suggesting — as did the findings presented earlier on white women's continuing ascent to CEO positions — that they may have been the greatest beneficiaries of the push for affirmative action that began in the 1960s. However, in terms of equality opportunity, white women are still far behind white men. In 2010, the U.S. census found that 36.8% of Americans were white men, and 37.8% were white women. Therefore, white males were overrepresented by a ratio of 2.0, white females were under-represented (0.35), and the male to female ratio was 5.6 to 1. Based on the longstanding use of over- and under-representation as indicators of power and powerlessness, it is easy to conclude that white males remain powerful, much more so than white women. [my emphasis] 24 Sexuality seems to produce a reverse effect in the income of gays and lesbians - the gay male “penalty” (reduced wages for gay men) and the lesbian “premium” (increased wages for lesbian women), which, according to Black, Sanders & Taylor (2007), was also found in previous analyses. The authors associate differences in income among the groups to the index mean percent in typically female occupation
Source: “Diversity Among CEOs and Corporate Directors: Has the Heyday Come and Gone?”. Available at: http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/diversity_among_ceos.html . Retrieved on April, 1st, 2015. 24
63 (Table 1, Category C) , “calculated by finding the percent female within each occupation and then taking the mean of these percentages over the individuals within each demographic group” (p. 65). As regards this index, they found that gay men’s occupations are more “typically female” than heterosexual men while lesbian women’s occupation are slightly less “typically female” than other women. Black, Sanders & Taylor (2007) offer several explanations to those statistics. They argue, for instance, that higher levels of education and wages of lesbian women result from heavier investment in marketoriented human capital than heterosexual women (decision to stay longer in school; working long hours; choice of major that may lead to a higher paying job; etc.). By applying a theory of household specialization, they also argue that “gays who realize early in life that they are unlikely to form traditional households with children may plan on specializing less in market production than heterosexual men” (p. 66). However, the authors concede that this theory is at odds with the relatively higher levels of education of gay men and point out three other countervailing forces that affect gay men’s level of education: (1) college campuses may constitute spaces of socialization for gays and lesbians; (2) they are less likely to have immediate family responsibilities in comparison to their similarly-aged heterosexual peers and (3) higher education might be a means of avoiding anticipated jobmarket discrimination (e.g. choosing a career in accounting, which requires a college degree, over a career in construction). I consider the reasons presented by the authors to explain the differences in earned income and education among heterosexual men, heterosexual women, gays and lesbians, insufficient. The statistics in Table 1 could also be explained by a social theory of masculinity that acknowledges that “dominant forms of masculinity are associated with major forms of social power” (Connell & Wood, 2005, p. 347). Although the nuclear family is no longer a necessary unit of labor production, the workings of capitalism are still reproduced through international business, which is the historical product of gendered discourses that privilege the “masculine” as an intrinsic expression of rationality, competitiveness, control of the body and emotions (see Chapter 1, p. 37). In this sense, choice of career, access to positions of power and assessment of one’s working capacity also depend on a particular masculine gender performance (which is believed to be
64 essentially embodied by heterosexual men). Consequently, women in general (considering that the percentage of lesbians in “typically female” occupation is only 5,6% lower than that of heterosexual women, see Table 1) and homosexual men (including trans/genderqueer people) suffer high levels of discrimination in the workplace 25, which produces negative effects on job opportunities, productivity and job satisfaction. In Brazil, economic analyses of same-sex couples or discussions about the relation between economy and queer sexuality are still scarce (Marsiaj, 2003; Moutinho, 2006; Ferreira, 2007; Carvalho & Neto, 2013; Annunciação, 2014; Braz, 2014; Neto, Silva & Saraiva, 2014). It was only in the 2010 Census that the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) included the distinction between hetero and homosexual couples in households. According to a news report commenting on the census 26, the survey has indicated that the income of same-sex couples is significantly higher than the income of heterosexual couples. I approach the results reported in the media with some wariness because they are decontextualized and draw attention away from inequalities in income between heterosexual and homosexual individuals. The news report shows, for instance, that 9,55 % of homosexual couples earn from five to ten minimum wages, while only 3,41% of heterosexual couples earn the same amount. However, the reported results produce a generalization that does not frame income difference in relation to level of education and/or labor conditions (e.g. hours of work and chosen profession). So far this section has highlighted two critical points on the relation between queer theory and materialism: (1) queer is not a “merely cultural” phenomenon since the misrecognition of queer
survey of social science research and evidence of discrimination against LGBTIQ employees in the U.S. is provided by Pizer; Sears; Mallory & Hunter (2012). Some keyfindings of their body of research indicate that: “As recently as 2008, 37 percent had experienced workplace harassment in the last five years, and 12 percent had lost a job because of their sexual orientation. As recently as 2011, 90 percent of respondents to the largest survey of transgender people to date reported having experienced harassment or mistreatment at work, or had taken actions to avoid it, and 47 percent reported having been discriminated against in hiring, promotion, or job retention because of their gender identity” (p. 721). 26 “Casais gays ganham mais que casais heterossexuais, mostra IBGE”. Source: http://g1.globo.com/brasil/noticia/2011/11/casais-gays-ganham-mais-que-casaisheterossexuais-mostra-ibge.html. Retrieved on April 1st, 2015.
65 individuals has material and economic effects; and (2) economic inequality and discrimination in the workplace are some of the contradictions of capitalism particularly present in the lives of queer people. Considering these issues, in the next section I address the ways queer theory and materialism (or rather Marxism) can enter into dialogue in order to offer a sustained critique to both capitalism and sexual oppression.
2.4 COMMODIFYING DESIRES: HOMONORMATIVITY AND THE PRIVATIZATION OF SEX This section provides a dialogue between materialism/Marxism and queer theory/sexuality, pointing out the emergence of two social phenomena in late capitalism, homonormativity and privatization of sex, both seen as outcomes and conditions for the commodification of (homos)sexual identities. The discussion of these phenomena is developed in the context of two very important works that constitute major steps towards a materialist queer perspective. In Profit and Pleasure: Sexual Identities in Late Capitalism (2000), Rosemary Hennessy takes a materialist feminist perspective to explain the cultural construction of sexual identities and its relation to capitalism. Throughout the book, she argues that sexual identity is “affected by several aspects of capitalism such as wage labor, commodity production and consumption” (p. 4). One of her main arguments is that the commodity logic, which plays a central role in capitalist production, has implications for the connection between cultural meanings and the production of social life (p. 95). Drawing from Marx, Hennessy (2000) explains that the empirical reality of a commodity (the human labor and the conditions of its production) is not readily perceived (given that the commodity acquires a value on its own), therefore producing an atomistic form of consciousness that extends to many aspects of human life (ibid.). This fragmentation of the social (and of consciousness) required for the production of commodities is well described by Lukacs’ (1968) concept of reification. Reification is a process in which human praxis, relations and attributes acquire an economic value, which, consequently, produces an obliteration of subjectivity and consciousness. Given this link between
66 commodity and forms of consciousness, Hennessy (2000) recalls Lukacs’ claim that the history of commodification is not only bound up with the organization of labor relations, but also with the reification of heteronormative sexuality since the late nineteenth century27 (p. 97). Relying on this claim, Hennessy finally argues that the emergence of “queer” as an epistemology is “congruent with the forms of reified consciousness required of the new stewards of capitalism” (p. 108). In this sense, “postmodern sexualities”, characterized by openness, fluidity and ambivalence, are quite compatible with the new forms of labor and commodity in late modernity. As an example, she describes a transnational growing middle-class of professional “knowledge workers”28 who has enjoyed more freedom and autonomy and, consequently, challenged heteronormative identities by appropriating aspects of the American gay culture (such as fashion and intellectual style). However, she notes that even though they may disrupt oppressive social norms and state practices, they nevertheless support neoliberalism because “they de-link sexuality from its historical connection to the human relationships of exploitation capitalism relies on” (p. 109). Hennessy’s argument is further elaborated in Kevin Floyd’s The Reification of Desire: Toward a Queer Marxism (2009). Floyd argues that heterosexuality as a “normalizing regime” (as well as gender, race and class) works in tandem with the political economy of capitalism and that queer theory and Marxism are forms of ‘critical knowledge’ which can reveal the pervasiveness of neoliberalism as a guiding principle in different domains of human and social life (p. 3). He notes that although Marxism aspires to totality thinking – to map and understand the network of social relations across different domains of human experience -, it presents little acknowledgment of other dimensions of social and historical reality, especially sexuality. For Floyd, queer thought as a form of “epistemological perversity” (p. 4) could revitalize Marxist thought in significant ways. Besides expanding the scope of 27
See Katz (1995). Henessy describes knowledge workers as service workers who are “able to carry out multistep operations, manipulate abstract symbols, command the flow of information, and remain flexible enough to recognize new paradigms. Their work requires new affective and physical responses: habitual mobility, adaptability in every undertaking, the ability to navigate among possible alternatives and spaces, and a cultivation of ambivalence as a structure of feeling” (2000, p. 108). 28
67 Marxist analysis, queer theory would also help to reveal the pervasive process of reification of desire in contemporary capitalist societies. Floyd argues that, since the late 1980’s, the “gay community” has developed an internal differentiation (another sexual reification beyond the hetero-homosexual) due to the interests of capital (p. 197). While the marginalized commodification of male bodies (in magazines such as Physique Pictorial29, which displayed a “performative homossexualizing” of heterosexual masculine figures such as the cowboy, the construction worker, the soldier, etc.) helped form a collective, national network of homosexual men in the 1950’s in the U.S., the more contemporary sexual objectification of male bodies in advertising (the “sex sells” tactic, see Figure 2) has served to reproduce a homogeneous market of gay men bound by consumerism, despite a paradoxical desexualization of the homosexual in the mainstream media.
Physique pictorial was the first all-male and all-nude magazine in the U.S. published between 1951-1990. It is an example of a beefcake magazine, a type of magazine that featured photographs of attractive, muscular young men in athletic poses, with the pretense of being about exercise and fitness. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beefcake_magazine. Retrieved on May, 30th, 2015.
Figure 2 - Calvin Klein ad featuring actor Mark Wahlberg (“Mark Marky”) Source: http://www.papermag.com/2015/01/justin_bieber_mark_wahlberg_calvin_klein. php
As Floyd points out, this desexualization and homogenization are part of a neoliberal sexual politics which Lisa Duggan (2002) has called the new homonormativity – “a politics that does not contest dominant heteronormative assumptions and institutions but upholds and sustains them while promising the possibility of a demobilized gay constituency and a privatized, depoliticized gay culture anchored in domesticity and consumption” (p. 179). Besides the commodification of male bodies, homonormativity has been enforced by ‘positive’ images of ‘respectable’ same-sex couples (see Figure 3) in (apparently) monogamist relationships (sometimes with children), usually white and middle-upper class, who reap social and material rewards in opposition to a host of “others” (genderqueers, sadomasochists, polygamists, barebackers, drag queens, ‘trannies’, butch lesbians, queers of color, etc.) who engage in public kissing and public sex and constitute a threat to achieving ‘gay equality’.
One effect of this neoliberal homonormativity and the privatization of sex, according to Floyd, is the dispersal of the social, which prevents the emergence of collective queer formations that could develop other forms of intimacy, political action and intelligibility beyond domestic space, kinship, property and the nation (p. 208). While the public space and the legitimate status of heterosexuality allows heterosexual men and women to form social and political bonds in noncommercial spaces, homosexual interactions are still largely restricted to commercial spaces (such as bathhouses and bars) and online (paid) spaces, which keep these relations ‘invisible’ from ‘straight’ society and disintegrates historical LGBTIQ communities formed in the late 1960’s30. Furthermore, the normalization of homosexuality, focused on monogamy and privacy, has produced a ‘slut-shamming effect’ with consequences for HIV prevention. In the US, for example, some gay See the article “The Pines summer of discontent. It’s Grindr’s fault”. Available at: http://nymag.com/news/intelligencer/grindr-fire-island-2012-7/ . Retrieved on March, 26 th, 2015. 30
70 activists have coined a derogatory label to describe those who opt for taking Truvada, the first HIV Pre-Profilaxy (PreP) drug approved in 2014 by the Food and Drug Administration: “Truvada Whore”. The label serves to identify gay men who choose PreP instead of other conventional HIV prevention methods (e.g. condoms) presumably to engage in bareback sex. In a negative sense, it creates a moralist distinction between the monogamist, ‘respectable’, ‘responsible’ gay man (sometimes in a serodiscordant31 relationship) who deserves protection, and the promiscuous, ‘irresponsible’ ‘whore’ who has shamed the so-called “gay community”. Despite some skepticism towards the efficacy of the drug, some studies have indicated Truvada offers more than 90 percent of protection against HIV32. The drug could reduce significantly the spread of the virus among MSM, considering that “long term 100% condom use is a minority behavior: only one-insix gay men actually managed to maintain it over [a period of] three- to four-years”, according to a major study by the US Centers for Disease Control33. Clearly, homonormativity and the privatization of gay sexuality have implications for citizenship, given the premise that “all citizenship is sexual citizenship” (Bell & Binnie, 2000, p. 10). For example, citizenship discourses center around the notion of ‘the family’ based on “sexualized constructions of appropriate (and inappropriate) modes of living together and caring for one another” (ibid.). Accordingly, one way in which gay men and lesbian women have acquired certain rights is by performing this sort of familial ‘good’ sexual citizenship, which couples tolerance with assimilation: “[you] are granted the right to be tolerated as long as [you] stay within the boundaries of that tolerance, whose borders are maintained through a heterosexist public/private” (Richardson, 1998 quoted by Bell & Binnie, 2000, p. 26). Another way to claim sexual citizenship, as this section has pointed out, is through consumerism, which equates economic power to political power. Under this logic, gay and lesbian rights are conceived as commodities bought by ‘model consumer-citizens’ (Bell & Binnie, 31
A relationship in which one partner is HIV positive and the other is negative. Source: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/prevention/research/prep/ . Retrieved on March, 26 th, 2015. 33 Source: http://www.aidsmap.com/Consistent-condom-use-in-anal-sex-stops-70-of-HIVinfections-study-finds/page/2586976/ . Retrieved on March, 27th, 2015. 32
71 2000, p. 97). Giving that this model citizen is usually white and middleclass, it therefore excludes the participation of gays and lesbians who cannot afford the high prices of some venues on the gay scene or living in “gentrified gay neighborhoods”, which constitute a market strategy based on selling “diversity” (p. 106).
2.5 QUEER THEORIES
The discussion carried out throughout most of this chapter has emphasized the need to acknowledge and address the socioeconomic aspects of (queer) sexuality. In the context of this research, it is crucial to pay attention to the economic basis of the lives of MSM, which could reveal complex issues in which sexuality and social class intersect, such as: income and homophobia in the workplace; the economic importance of the family; (heterosexual) marriage as a means to acquire property; joining the military to escape poverty; the economic disadvantages of ‘coming out’; and the economics of urban migration. Based on this premise, Brazilian scholars must adopt a critical standpoint towards the momentum of queer theory in Brazil, given that social inequality is still a major issue in the country. As I argued elsewhere (Nascimento, 2014a), we need to develop a Southern queer gaze towards queer theory/studies in order to transform Northern theories and politics (based on an American model of activism) and make it more adequate to the local realities of countries from the global South and their attending political needs (Connell, 2007). Taking a queer approach to queer studies is certainly not an easy task and requires constant critical evaluation of the formation of human subjectivities and the enactment of social relationships through distinct “axes of difference”. Indeed, we need not only to trouble gender, sexual and racial identities, but also to queer the construction of knowledge and its modes of production.
73 3 DESIGNING THE STUDY OF MASCULINITIES AND SAMESEX DESIRE IN MEN’S NARRATIVES
Deciding to do qualitative research is not a soft option. Such research demands theoretical sophistication and methodological rigour. (Silverman, 2013, p. 279) This chapter aims to describe the methodological choices for the investigation of the construction of male identities and same-sex desire in Brazilian men’s narratives reported in this dissertation. Three major sections compose the chapter. Section 3.1 defines the scope of the study and the general criterion for the choice of participants. Section 3.2 describes the task of collecting narrative interviews informed by a qualitative research methodology. Finally, in section 3.3, I explain how the narratives were analyzed as social practices. 3.1 SCOPE OF THE STUDY The investigation reported in this study was conducted in Florianópolis-SC, Brazil and consists of five interviews exploring the narrative construction of masculinity and same-sex desire. The study offers a narrow and detailed view on a social/linguistic phenomenon, which is part of a broad topic. It sheds some light on how narratives (re)construct the experiences of men who live in the sexual/social ‘borderlands’ (Anzaldúa, 1987)34, specifically the narratives of those men who participate in a ‘gay urban world’ in Brazil. However, the study does not include the narratives produced by other Brazilian men, for instance, those from different regions of the country, or who experience same-sex relationships in the countryside. Even though centered on the narratives of urban southern Brazilian MSM, it contributes to understanding the complex and contradictory aspects of Anzaldúa defines the borderland as “a vague and undetermined place created by the emotional residue of an unnatural boundary. It is a constant state of transition. The prohibited and forbidden are its inhabitants” (1987, p. 25). In this sense, men living in the borderlands are those who transcend the borders of hetero/homosexuality and navigate through undefined, blurred social and sexual spaces (of identity). 34
74 the construction of ‘self’ in discourse and the conflicting ‘identities’ that constitute the subjectivities of several men in the Brazilian cultural/economic context.
3.2 DOING QUALITATIVE NARRATIVE INTERVIEWS
The study of masculinities and same-sex desire in Brazil reported in this dissertation was carried out according to a qualitative research methodology (Flick, 2009; Silverman, 2013). The choice of methodology is justified by two reasons. The first reason was the researcher’s goal to produce a rich description of a social phenomenon, to give voice to participants who are rarely heard and to offer an interpretation of social events and identities mediated by language. Instead of asking “what” men ‘say’ about their (homos)sexualities, this research asks “how” ambiguous, contradictory sexual subjectivities are (re)constructed and negotiated in discourse. The second reason was the lack of human resources (research assistants) and funding to carry out a quantitative study. Initially, back in 2013, the objective of the research was to analyze a large linguistic corpora (with the aid of computer softwares such as Wordsmith Tools) comprised by one thousand online profiles of MSM from the dating website Badoo.com (from different regions of Brazil), fifty semistructured interviews and one thousand closed questionnnaires (Nascimento, 2013)35. Preliminary results of that research were reported in Nascimento and Figueiredo (2013). The present research follows a constructionist model that emphasizes the process of constructing and reproducing reality in terms of ‘ways of being in the world’ mediated by language (Silverman, 2013, p. 107). At the same time, the research also asks “why” storied sexual ‘selves’ are constructed in particular ways. Thus, narratives are conceived not only as individual ‘stories’, but also as products of 35
A similar research has been developed by Milani (2013, 2016) in South Africa in which he analyzes online profiles from the dating website meetmarket.com and interviews conducted with the website’s members.
75 discourses on gender and sexuality that circulate in a specific cultural context (Silverman, 2013, p. 242). The method utilized for collecting the data was the narrative interview. Narrative interview is a “type of interview [that] aims to encourage and stimulate the interviewed subject (informant) to tell something about some important event from his/her life and social context”36 (Muylaert et al., 2014, p. 194) as a way to reconstruct social events from their own points of view. Narrative interviews are social practices that produce subjects, texts, knowledge and authority (Gubrium & Holstein, 2012, p. 31). From this perspective, narrative interviews are not conceived as ‘true’ accounts of ‘coherent selves’ that reveal ‘deep’ meanings or the interviewees’ ‘real’ sentiments. Rather, interviews are seen as (1) narrative work that is managed and sustained by both interviewer and interviewees and (2) instantiations of “emerging discourses of experience” produced in different social institutions (Gubrium & Holstein, 2012, p. 40). Thus, the narrative construction is approached as a relational, dynamic process of negotiation of multiple subject ‘positionings’ taken by participants in interaction (De Fina; Georgakopoulou, 2012, p. 18-19). The narrative interviews that compose the corpus of this study were conducted in Brazilian Portuguese at different physical spaces that are part of the ‘urban queer/gay world’ in Brazil such as saunas, videoclubs, ‘cruising’ areas37, and eventually at the researcher’s or the informants’ own homes when they required secrecy. Some informants were personally invited to take part in the research by the researcher at those spaces, while others were contacted through online spaces such as ‘cruising’ websites (manhunt.com) or smartphone apps (Grindr)38. Some Original quote: “tipo de entrevista [que] visa encorajar e estimular o sujeito entrevistado (informante) a contar algo sobre algum acontecimento importante de sua vida e do contexto social”. 37 Hidden areas in which some men go in order to find anonymous sex with other men, for instance, the trails in the woods at Galheta, a naturist beach in Florianópolis, Brazil. 38 Manhunt.com is a paid social networking website (with limited functionality for nonmembers) that targets primarily men who are ‘cruising’ online for sex. This is indicated by the pictures at the home page, portraying semi-naked young men and the slogan “Any man. Any time. Anywhere”. the website badoo.com , the Grindr app and manhunt.com, can be considered the most popular online tools available nowadays for Brazilian MSM. These tools were originated in the U.S. and exported to several countries around the world, as part of the “global gay” phenomenon mentioned in the Introduction. Although Manhunt and Grindr do not 36
76 informants were also reached through a ‘snowball sample’ – “using the social networks of one or two initial informants” (Silverman, 2013, p. 203). On the one hand, the interviewees did not know the interviewer in advance and there was a certain distance between the interviewer and the interviewees – this was also because the latter were aware of the fact that the former was conducting the interviews for a research project, as part of his studies. On the other hand, the researcher was also an active participant in the field and an object of sexual desire to some interviewees. In this case, the researcher established an intimate relationship right from the start with some of the interviewees and it became an implicit condition for their acceptance to be part of the research. In this sense, the ‘secret’ as a sociological category (see Simmel, 1905) became central for the regulation or sharing of information in the interviews and the success of the interaction depended on the researcher’s capacity to be ‘silent’. The narrative interviews focused on the informants’ past/ current romantic/sexual experiences with other men, the negotiation of sexual encounters, the impact of those experiences on their lives (and their sense of masculine identity) and an assessment of the current situation of Brazil regarding LGBTIQ rights and visibility. Prior to interviewing, participants were asked to sign a term of agreement (Appendix 1) as a legal procedure for their participation in the research. I also submitted the research project and the term of agreement for evaluation by a commission from the Comitê de Ética em Pesquisa com Seres Humanos (Committee of Ethics for Research with Human Subjects) of the Federal University of Santa Catarina in 2013 (see Appendix 2), but the project was not approved despite my efforts to meet the requirements made by the commission (see Appendix 3)39. present the word ‘gay’ in their websites, they nonetheless feature images and discourses from the ‘gay world’ (e.g. gay erotica in Manhunt and stories of ‘successful’ same-sex relationships initiated through the Grindr app). 39 After the first submission, I received a positive evaluation from the committee in which minor changes were requested in the term of agreement regarding the need to include a clear warning to research participants about the potential risks of information disclosure. After making the requested changes, I resubmitted the project and a small automatic message was posted on the Brazil platform. The message stated that I still needed to send a formal letter describing all the changes made in the project to satisfy the requests made by the committee. After my trip to the U.S. as a visiting scholar, I submitted the requested letter to the committee,
77 Given those circumstances, the process of evaluation was not followed through given that it is non-mandatory for research projects in the area of Humanities and Social Sciences in Brazil (Garcez, 2015). The task of collecting the interviews for this research was carried out in two stages. At the first stage, piloting, I conducted and recorded five narrative interviews in order to make sense of the interviewing process and try out different styles of questioning (Silverman, 2013, p. 207). During this stage, I became aware of the important role I played in the interactions and the difficulties in sampling ‘hidden’ populations (Faugier & Sargeant, 1997). During the first trial, many men refused to take part in the research due to their fear of accidental information disclosure. Besides, due to my lack of experience with interviewing and to bias, I also tended to interrupt informants or ‘argue’ with them. As a result, I did not allow them to construct their “own” narratives or freely express their views. During the second stage, I conducted six further narrative interviews, and selected five out of the 11 for analysis. The five interviews were selected according to the criterion pointed out in section 3.1 – ‘men living in the “borderlands”’. In other words, I selected the narratives of those men who live in indefinite, unclear, ambiguous social and sexual spaces of identity (e.g. MSM married to or divorced from women, living with homophobic families, working in ‘male-dominated’ professions, Church members, working in the military, etc.). An overview of the five participants’ situations is provided in Table 2.
but they asked me to start the process of evaluation all over again because the interviews were already collected.
78 Table 2 - Overview of the interviewees’ situations Participant40
Description of the interviewees’ situation The interviewee is a 42-year-old white man who was born in Lisbon and moved to Santa Catarina about 10 years ago. He is married to a woman and has children. His level of education is High School. He earns from 4 to 6 minimum wages41 and owns a car and a house. His job/profession was not informed. Vinícius has profiles on Grindr and manhunt.com and also attends a sex videoclub for MSM. He was contacted online by the researcher. The interviewee is a 47-year-old white man, single, who lives in Santa Catarina with his elderly mother and his sisters. His level of education is High School, he owns a car and a house and earns from 4 to 6 minimum wages. Fernando works as a cruise ship steward for 6 months every year. He has profiles on Grindr and Scruff42. The interviewee is a 32-year-old white man from Minas Gerais divorced, and a former member of the Mormon church . Lucas is currently studying to finish High School. His job/profession is not informed, but his interview indicates that he works at some private company. He does not have a car and rents a house/apartment. He lives by himself and has a son, who often visits him. His earnings range from 4 to 6 minimum wages and he pays child support. Lucas met the researcher at a sex videoclub for MSM. The interviewee is a 43 year-old mixed-race Brazilian who lives in Pará but frequently travels to Santa Catarina because of his job as sales representative. He is married to a woman and has children. He holds a college degree, earns from 12 to 21 minimum wages, owns a car and a house. Marcelo was contacted online by the researcher. The interviewee is a 37 year-old African-Brazilian, single, who was born in Bahia and moved to Santa Catarina two years ago. He works as a hotel receptionist and earns about 2 minimum wages. His level of education is High School, he does not have a car and rents a studio. Adriano is also a musician who plays the piano at a local Mormon Church on weekends. Adriano was also introduced to the researcher by a friend.
All the names used in this research are pseudonyms and were abbreviated by their initial letter in the interview excerpts. References to the researcher turns at talk are made by letter R. 41 Participants declared their incomes in a questionnaire (Appendix 4) given to them by the researcher at the beginning of the interviews and there were no means of making sure those are their real incomes. 42 Scruff is also a dating app for tablets and smartphones avalaible for MSM.
79 Finally, after selecting the narrative interviews for analysis, the researcher transcribed the interviews according to “a simplified technique that reflects hesitations, pauses and intonation countours” (Milani, 2016, p. 447) - see Appendix 5.
3.3 ANALYZING NARRATIVES SOCIAL PRACTICES
The analysis of the social practices in the narratives followed three steps: (1) identifying the narrative themes that emerged from the interviews; (2) mapping the social practices and (2) focusing the analysis on two elements of the recontextualized social practices - the research participants as social actors and their social actions. Text analysis was carried out according to the eight categories from van Leeuwen (2008) described in Chapter 1, section 1.5: role allocation, genericization, association, identification, differentiation, impersonalization, objectivation and deagentialization. These categories were selected because they seemed relevant for data analysis, according to the results of a pilot analysis of two narrative interviews, and because they reveal not only how identities are represented, but also how participants represent themselves as male sexual agents in discourse.
81 4 ANALYZING MEN’S NARRATIVES AS SOCIAL PRACTICES IN THE CONTEXT (…) in storytellings, the role of information is handled within a framework that prioritizes the sociorelational issues over the informational ones. Story responses are not concerned with displaying informedness (…) but with displaying an affective stance toward the event(s) the story reported. Storytelling [therefore] might be conceptualized as a kind of microcosm for the interactional management of one dimension of the sociorelational realm: affiliation. (Stivers, 2008, p. 53)
This chapter presents the analysis and discussion of narrative interviews as forms of interaction shaped by the context, and an overview of the emerging narratives and themes identified in the data. In section 4.1, I analyze two excerpts to demonstrate how the interviews were shaped by the context and co-constructed by both the interviewer and the interviewee. Section 4.2 provides an overview of the narratives and the social practices identified in the data, which eventually served as a reference for the analysis reported in Chapters 5 and 6. 4.1 INTERVIEWING AS A DISCURSIVE PRACTICE: MEN’S NARRATIVES IN THE CONTEXT The analysis reported in this dissertation takes as a starting point the basic CDA premise that “texts are produced in specific ways in specific social contexts” (Fairclough, 1995, p. 78). As pointed out in Chapter 3, the narratives that comprise this study were produced about a specific topic addressed by participants holding specific social relations. Participants talked about their sexual experiences and identities, which
82 are still considered taboo for the majority of Brazil’s population43, and the relationship between the researcher/interviewer and interviewee/informant was distant. The researcher was considered an ‘outsider’ by some men probably because he is not married to a woman or because they could not see why their sexual lives would be of interest to someone. Off-record conversations prior to the actual interviewing also pointed out that some participants tended to approach the researcher as an ‘authority’ who was better equipped to talk about gender and sexuality issues than them. In addition, the researcher sometimes had to reformulate his questions in order to make them understandable to the interviewees, who had difficulty in grasping the meaning of basic concepts such as ‘gender’, ‘masculinity’ or ‘LGBTIQ’. Given the circumstances in which some interactions took place, some participants were unable to ‘own’ their narratives. The narratives and their meanings, therefore, were very influenced by the context and co-constructed jointly by the participants in the interaction (the researcher and the interviewee). This is evidenced by Excerpt 1, which features the beginning of the interview with Lucas: (…) 1. P: E sobre namoro [com homens], a primeira experiência, quando foi? Como foi? 2. L: Minha primeira experiência sexual [com um homem] foi com quatorze anos. 3. P: E aí como é que foi? O que você sentiu, teve algum problema com isso? 4. L: Eu tinha vontade, mas ficava na minha, né? Era um gurizinho. Me deu vontade de tocar nele e ele 5. deixou, talvez tava com vontade também e a gente ficou. Foi legal, eu gostei. Daí fomos ficando 6. até os dezenove anos. 7. P: E aí era uma amizade? 8. L: Era uma amizade mesmo, mas de vez em quando a gente ficava... 43
For Kimmel, Western societies in general live a paradox regarding sex and sexuality: “though our culture is saturated with sexual jokes and innuendo, and we talk about sex incessantly, for most of us sexuality remains a pretty private experience, rarely discussed honestly and openly” (2000, p. 339).
83 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14.
P: Mas havia beijo na boca? L: As primeiras vezes sim, depois não. P: Como assim depois não? L: A primeira vez teve beijo, mas depois não rolou mais beijo. P: Por quê? L: Talvez porque a gente começou a ter a ideia de que beijo era alguma relacionada a gay sei lá... 15. Quando a gente é jovem não se tem uma ideia clara de que “Ah, isso é coisa de viado, eu sou 16. gay”. Até então a gente tava transando numa boa, né?... Mas talvez a gente tivesse a imagem de 17. que beijar na boca era coisa de mulherzinha... uma coisa assim. Translation 1. R: About dating [men], when was your first experience? How was it? 2. L: My first sexual experience [with a man] was at 14. 3. R: How was it? How did you feel about it? Have you had any issue? 4. L: I wanted it, but was chilling, right? I was a teenager. I felt the need to touch him and he 5. let me, maybe he felt the same way and we hooked up. It was nice. I liked it. Then we kept doing 6. it until I was 19. 7. R: Was it a friendship? 8. L: It was a friendship indeed, though we hooked up sometimes… 9. R: Was there any kissing? 10. L: The first time we kissed, but after that we stopped doing it. 11. R: Why? 12. L: Maybe because we started realizing that kissing was something related to being gay, I don’t know… 13. When we are young we don’t have a clear idea that “Oh, that’s fag stuff, I’m gay!”. Up to that 14. moment, we were having good sex, you know… But maybe we pictured mouth on the mouth as a 15. woman’s thing… something like that. Excerpt 1 – Lucas’s first sexual experience with a man
Lucas was interviewed at the bar of a videoclub for men in downtown Florianópolis. The background music was loud and there
84 were other men chatting in a room nearby. Although he was trying to be cooperative, Lucas was not at ease during this stage of the interview. Consequently, the narrative on his first sexual experience with a man was very brief, fragmented and he did not elaborate very much on his answers. His narrative was a simple report of ‘facts’ (lines 2, 8 and 10) shaped by direct questions from the researcher. Contrary to the expected structure of a narrative, the narrative on first sexual experience in Excerpt 1 is incomplete (it does not feature complicating action and resolution44), not orderly and constantly negotiated with the interviewer. Lucas’s narrative should be best described as a narrative account (De Fina, 2009) because it is “recipient-designed”, a response to evaluative questions (lines 1, 3 and 11) which serve the interests of the researcher. The focus of the interaction therefore is the negotiation of orientation – who and what is the story about? when and where does it happened? (lines 1-2, 7-10) and evaluation – how or why is it interesting? (lines 36, 11-15). The fragmented narrative produced by Lucas of his first sexual experience contrasted significantly with the narrative produced by other research participants (such as Adriano), as shown in Excerpt 2, which also features the beginning of an interview. 1. R: Adriano, eu gostaria que você me contasse sobre as experiências que tu tiveste com outros 2. homens, ficantes, namorados, etc., e como elas afetaram ou têm afetado a tua vida até hoje. 3. A: Eu perdi minha virgindade há 24 anos atrás . Faz um tempão…Se eu fosse hetero, eu já 4. teria filho, né… pense… porque hoje tem gente que engravida com 12, 13 anos… Se eu fosse 5. hetero, eu já tinha filho… Nossa, eu ia ter um filho com 24 anos… Se eu fosse hetero e tivesse… According to Labov and Waletsky’s (1967) classic framework, a narrative usually consists of six structures: (1) Abstract – a summary of the entire sequence of events; (2) Orientation information on the time, place of the events of a narrative, the identities of the participants and their initial behavior; (3) Complicating action – a reported event that answers the question “And what happened then?”; (4) Resolution - a closure or the result of a sequence of events in the narrative; (5) Evaluation – an assessment by participants of the consequences of the reported events; and (6) Coda – a final clause which returns the narrative to the present moment. 44
85 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12.
14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25.
eu não perdi a virgindade com 13? Se eu tivesse perdido a virgindade em outro sentido, [tipo] transei com uma mulher, uma menina e ela engravidou e não quis abortar… Hoje eu teria um filho de 24 anos… até que não seria ruim, né?... Como não sou hetero, então deixa quieto, né? Pode começar? R: Mas já começou! Você já tá falando . A: Tá! Deixa eu me lembrar quando eu perdi a minha virgindade… vamos começar por aí… Eu tinha 12 anos de idade… na frente da minha casa tinha uma oficina de consertar carros. Todo 13. dia eu saía da escola e tinha um negão sentado encima da pedra assim … meio dia eu saía e todo dia ele me falava: “Vou te almoçar”… E eu na minha inocência, com 12 anos de idade, [pensava] “me almoçar? Jura!”. Na minha inocência, cara, como ia entender o que é “vou te almoçar”... te comer, né? . E eu sem entender o que esse negão dizia com vai me almoçar, vai me almoçar, [eu dizia] “vai almoçar a tua mãe e dava risada”. Aí teve um dia que ele chegou lá na porta da minha casa, bateu lá na porta e perguntou se eu tava em casa em casa, daí minha mãe foi me chamar... Na cara dura, cara, ele falou, assim: “Quero te comer hoje, amanhã vou pro exército e não posso ficar de pau duro lá”. Porque quando você vai servir no exército você fica nu, né? Se ele ficasse nu lá, ele ia ficar ereto. Ele queria porque queria aquela noite. Eu falei “Não vou não”. Aí ele insistiu, insistiu, insistiu. Eu falei “Não vou. Não tenho nada a ver com isso... se você vai ficar de pênis duro no exército, o que que eu posso fazer? Não tenho nada a ver com isso, meu filho!”. Fomos no meio do matagal. Naquela época, morava na periferia então tinha muito matagal pra ir. Ele levou óleo de cozinha em um frasco. Nunca me esqueço. Me assustou
aquilo de tão grande, que mal a mão fechava. Não vou conseguir não. Vou só brincar... 27. mas ele queria penetrar mesmo em mim, ainda mais que eu era novinho. Aí eu lembro que 28. conseguimos, mas sangrou muito. Eu passei a mão e senti que tava... era um pouco escuro porque 29. a gente tava no meio do matagal. Uma dor no cu que nunca vou esquecer, mas desde ali eu viciei. 30. Nossa, uma delícia! O negão gamou em mim também. A gente transou por quase 18 anos. 31. Ele casou e continuou morando no mesmo bairro e a gente continuava transando. [Transamos por] 32. Quase 20 anos. Translation 1. R: Adriano, I would like you to tell me about the [sexual/romantic] experiences you had with other 2. men, dates, boyfriends, etc., and how they affected or have affected your life up to now. 3. A: I lost my virginity 24 years ago . It was a long time ago… If I was straight, I’d already 4. have a child, right… think… because nowadays there are people who get pregnant at 12, 13…. If I 5. was straight, I’d have a child…. Wow, I’d have a 24 years old child…. If I was straight and had… 6. Didn’t I lose my virginity at 13? If I had lost my virginity in another sense [like] had sex with a 7. woman, a girl and she got pregnant and didn’t want to abort [the baby]…. Nowadays I’d have a 24 8. years old child… that wouldn’t be bad at all, right?.... As I’m not straight, keep it cool, right? Can 9. we start? 10. R: But it’s already started! You’re already talking [laughter]. 11. A: [Laughter] Well! Let me remember when I lost my virginity… let’s start at this point. I was 12 12. in front of my house there was an auto repair shop. Every time I left home to school there 13. was a big black guy sitting on a rock like this … I used to leave at noon and everyday he
used to say to me: “I’m going to lunch you”… In my naiveté, at 12 years old, [I thought] “lunch me? No way!”. In my naiveté, guy, how could I understand what means “I’m going to lunch you”… fuck you, right? . And I kept not understanding what the black guy meant by saying he was going to lunch me… [I thought] “Go lunch your mom!”. Then there was a day he came to the door of my house, knocked on my door and asked if I was home. Then my mom went inside to call me… He said to me, dude, blatantly: “I wanna fuck you today [because] tomorrow I’m going to the army and I can’t get a hard on there”. Because when you serve in the military, you get naked, right? If he got naked there, he’d get an erection. He wanted so badly that night. I said “No, I won’t”. Then he insisted, insisted, insisted. I said “I won’t. I have nothing to do with this… If you get a hard on in the army, what can I do? I have nothing to do with this, my child!”. We went into the bushes. At that time, I lived uptown so there were several bushes to go. He took cooking oil in a bottle with him…. I’ll never forget it. I got scared with that [his penis] [Because] it was so big that I could barely grab it with my hand. [I thought] “I can’t do it, no. I just wanna play”, but he wanted to penetrate me anyway, especially because I was a twink. Then I remember we did it, but it [my asshole] bled a lot. I put my hand down there and felt it was [bleeding]… It was dark because we were in the bushes, but I noticed it bled. [I felt] A pain in the asshole I will never forget, but since that time I got addicted. Wow, that was hot! The big nigga had a crush on me as well. We had sex for almost 18 years. He got married and kept living in the same neighborhood [I used to live] and we kept having sex. [We had sex for] Almost twenty years.
88 Excerpt 2 – Adriano’s first sexual experience with a man
Adriano was interviewed at home and he was feeling quite comfortable. He was very open and though he was not intimate with the researcher, he regarded him as a person who was interested and curious about his story. The favorable circumstances in which the interview was conducted allowed the construction of a very interesting and detailed narrative on his first sexual experience. In comparison to Lucas’s narrative, Adriano held the floor for extended turns at talk and there was lesser negotiation over orientation (lines 8-10) and evaluation between the participants. In addition, the latter’s narrative featured two additional structural stages: complicating action (lines 17-20) and resolution (lines 27-32). These differences between the two narratives have to do with the degree of ‘access’ to the story provided by the teller to the recipient. According to Stivers (2008), when people tell a story, they not only provide information, but they also provide the recipient with ‘the means to understand what it was like to experience the event being reported through the eyes of the teller’ (p. 32). In storytelling, access to events is provided through a set of communicative resources which make the narrated events ‘granular’ and detailed (e.g. the use of reported speech and lexical choices). For instance, Adriano’s narrative (Excerpt 2) features several occurrences of reported speech (lines 14-17, 19-23), whereas Lucas’ (Excerpt 1) features a single occurrence (line 13) that represents inner speech. Throughout his narrative Adriano not only provides the interviewer with a material representation of the participants’ actions in the story and a mental representation of their ‘inner world’ in a given time and place, but he also reproduces their direct speech, which serves to ‘animate’ the narrative and involve the listener. Furthermore, the lexical choices in his narrative, which include slangs and ‘dirty words’ from Brazilian Portuguese such as “comer” (roughly ‘to fuck’), “negão” (‘big nigga’), “na cara dura” (roughly ‘blatantly’), “matagal” (‘bushes’) and “gamou” (roughly ‘to get addicted to someone’), provide a rich, funny portrayal of the narrated event. Providing access to a narrative may also depend on the participants’ stances towards the reported events. In Excerpt 1, Lucas’s stance towards his first (sexual) experience is factual, unproblematic. His stance implicitly contrasted with the researcher’s, who was
89 expecting the event to be a source of conflict and denial. The result of their contrasting stances produced a short, fragmented narrative (account). On the other hand, in Excerpt 2 the researcher displays affiliation (Stivers, 2008), he takes a stance that matches Adriano’s conveyed stance towards the narrative (he was amused by some narrated events in the course of the telling). As a result, Adriano produces a narrative that is complex, longer and more structured than Lucas’. The brief analysis carried out in this section so far has demonstrated that interviewing is a discursive practice profoundly affected by the context, especially regarding the relationship between participants and their purposes in the interaction. The overall context of the telling (the place where the interviews were conducted, the social image of the interviewer held by the interviewees, the choice of specific topics) and the teller’s and hearer’s stances towards the narrated event/account determined the narrative length and structure and the degree of access to the narrative. Thus, the interaction between the participants and the production of narratives (or accounts) varied according to the members’ resources: “what people have in their heads and draw upon when they produce or interpret texts – including their knowledge of language, representations of the natural and social world they inhabit, values, beliefs, assumptions and so on” (Fairclough, 1989, p. 24). In this sense, each participant in this research engaged in discourse production and interpretation with expectations about the actual social practice (an interview with a researcher) and, at the same time, with their internalized representations of the social practices recontextualized in their narratives (e.g. ‘first sexual experience’, ‘coming out’, ‘dating’, ‘bullying’, etc.). 4.2 NARRATIVES DISCOURSES
This section provides an overview of the social practices recontextualized in the narratives that emerged during the interviews with MSM. The results of the inductive analysis are summarized in Table 3, which includes the participants’ names, the narratives produced by participants and the conversations - social debates on relevant, controversial themes, usually highly covered by the media in different texts (Gee, 2000, p. 13) – identified in their discourses.
Table 3 - Narratives and conversations in the interviews Participants
- Accepting his same-sex desire - First dating/sexual experience with a man - Coming out to his mother
- Accepting his homosexual desire - Masturbating while watching a man’s body for the first time - Being bullied at school - First sexual experience
- Coming out to his ex-wife - Facing sexual prejudice at the workplace
Temporal sequencing He realized he was sexually attracted to men He had his first sexual experience Moved to a big city Accepted his homosexual desire He realized he was sexually attracted to men He met his first date on the bus They kissed and had sex He broke up with his boyfriend He came out to his mother She started crying His mother got worried about his gender performance He realized he felt unahappy ‘Enlightment’ He accepted his homosexual desire He told his best female friend His mom got suspicious of his change of attitude
Conversations - Bissexuality - Human rights - Religion
- Homosexuality - Bullying - LGBTIQ rights
He shared a room with a cowboy He watched the cowboy’s body at night while masturbating He was bullied at school He realized he was attracted to men He started monitoring his own gender performance He had sex with a boy at 14 They kept having sex until he was 19 They stopped kissing after the first encounter His ex-wife asked several questions about his ‘problem’ He admitted to her he felt sexually attracted to men He lost a job promotion for being ‘gay’ He went home and cried His job supervisor advised him to conceal his ‘private life’ and to see a psychiatrist
- Gay masculinity - Dating - ‘Gay life’
- First sexual experience
- First sexual experience
- How he became a member of the church
- Coming out on Facebook
Adriano - Confessing his homosexuality at the Church
Some men flirted with him at parties He started hooking up with men he met online A man from his neighborhood asked him to have sex They went into the bushes and had sex They had sexual encounters for about 20 years Adriano’s family was unsuccessful at making his father quit smoking Two missionaries helped his father quit smoking He went to the church for the first time and enjoyed it He felt pressed by people from the church to get married He dated a girl ‘to pass as straight’ She fell in love and he broke up with her He got annoyed when someone from the Church tried to set up a date for him He came out as homosexual on Facebook He told a bishop he had sex with men He went through formal probation in the Church He described his sexual activities to a disciplinary council The council deliberated They decided he would not be excommunicated He felt that God loved him
- Facing prejudice against LGBTIQ people in public spaces
He got on the bus to get to work A woman made a prejudiced comment about the LGBTIQ Pride March He felt annoyed by the comment
- Facing prejudice during childhood
One of his female neighbors told her son not to be friends with Adriano because he was queer Later her son died due to drug addiction Adriano felt somewhat revenged
- Bisexuality - LGBTIQ rights and visibility - Children’s sexual education
- Fatherhood - Religion - Education
Table 3 includes narratives featuring, at least, orientation and complicating action. The most recurrent narrative themes in the participants’ discourses were ‘first sexual experience’ and ‘accepting one’s same-sex desire’, given that these topics were part of the
92 researcher’s agenda. However, some participants also produced other related narrative themes , such as ‘being bullied at school’ and ‘prejudice against LGBTIQ people in public spaces’. Clearly, some participants gave more access to their narratives (Fernando, Lucas and Adriano) probably because same-sex desire and relationships were intrinsic parts of their identities (as self-identified gay men) in opposition to those participants who self-identified as bisexual men (but nonetheless performed as heterosexual men in public). On the other hand, the interviews of the two participants who self-identified as bisexual men (Vinícius and Marcelo) consisted mostly of their evaluative stances on conversations such as ‘children’s sexual education’ and ‘LGBTIQ rights and visibility’. In addition, Table 3 provides a temporal sequencing for each narrative, which roughly describes how participants represented certain social practices in discourse. For instance, the social practice of ‘accepting one’s homosexual desire’ may entail some ‘stages’ such as ‘self-denial’, ‘telling oneself it is just a phase’, ‘feeling anxious or guilty, ‘asking a therapist for advice’, etc. However, in Fernando’s narrative, the practice is recontextualized as a ‘magical’, ‘holy’ process enacted by outside ‘spiritual forces’ (see chapter 5, section 5.1). For the purposes of this dissertation, the narratives and conversations identified in Table 3 serve as a point of reference to the following two chapters (5 and 6), in which I conduct a detailed analysis of the participants’ discourses.
94 5 BETWEEN THE LOCAL AND THE GLOBAL: TENSIONS IN MEN’S DISCOURSE AND SEXUAL IDENTITY
When we speak or write we always take a particular perspective on what the “world” is like. This involves us in taking perspectives on what is “normal” and not; what is “acceptable” and not; what is “right” and not; what is “real” and not; what is the “way things are” and not; what is the “ways things ought to be” and not; what is “possible” and not; what “people like us” or “people like them” do and don’t do; and so on and so forth, again through a nearly endless list. But these are all, too, perspectives on how we believe, wish, or act as if potential “social goods” are, or ought to be distributed. (Gee, 1999, p. 2)
This chapter presents the first part of the discourse analysis of the five narrative interviews in terms of van Leeuwen’s (2008) categories for the analysis of social actors and social actions. Throughout the analysis, I attempt not only to point out how the practices and identities are (re)constructed in men’s discourses, but I also discuss the choices in language and representation in relation to the more abstract levels of discourse, in other words, how linguistic choices reflect and reproduce major Discourses – ‘ways of being and acting in the world’. In section 5.1, I analyze how male identities are represented in discourse whereas in section 5.2, I examine in which ways men position ‘the homosexual’ (or rather ‘the fag’) as ‘the other’ in their discourses. Finally, a summary of the main findings from the analysis is provided in section 5.3. 5.1 “IT WAS LIKE I WAS REPRESENTATIONS OF MALE DISCOURSES
A HOUSE IDENTITIES
HUSBAND”: IN MEN’S
The main argument explored in this dissertation is that the lives of Brazilian MSM who ‘cruise’ for anonymous sex is characterized by
95 contradiction and ambiguity. Despite avoiding the ‘gay scene’ (and any of its political manifestations), MSM appropriate (online) commercial gay spaces in order to set up sexual encounters with other men. As a way to resolve this contradiction, research participants tried to construct ‘positive’, ‘coherent’, ‘normal’ masculine identities for themselves in discourse by: (1) representing their own identities according to traditional ‘hegemonic’ ideals of masculinity pervasive in the Brazilian culture and/or (2) representing their masculinities in opposition to a generalized identity ‘the homosexual’, ‘the fag’, positioning the latter as ‘the other’ (see section 5.2). At the same time, the construction of male sexual identities was also enabled by (1) a objectivation of same-sex desire and/or (2) the reproduction of a neoliberal discourse characterized by individual freedom and a public/private binary (see Chapter 6). Fernando, for instance, constructs his male identity through his relationship with his mother (Excerpt 3) during the telling of two narratives: his first sexual experience and his ‘coming out’ (see Chapter 4, section 4.2). (…) 1. F: Com a minha mãe eu sempre tomei partido de tudo – “o homem da casa”. Ela sempre deixou muito 2. comigo as coisas porque ela confiou sempre em mim. (...) 3. R: Como era a relação com a tua mãe nessa época? 4. F: Era normal. Minha mãe... como ela é hoje, sempre confiando em mim. Eu que fazia tudo... O 5. extrato da conta dela era eu que tirava. Eu que controlava a conta dela. Eu fazia tudo. Era como se 6. fosse o marido da casa. O relacionamento sempre foi muito bom com a minha mãe. Minha mãe 7. nunca... antes mesmo de saber e mesmo depois de saber... nunca me tratou mal. Translation 1. F: With my mother I always took care of everything – “the man of the house”. She always left things 2. for me to do because she always trusted me. (…) 3. R: How was the relationship with your mother at that time? 4. F: It was normal. My mother... the same way she is nowadays, always trusting me. I was the one in
96 5. 6. 7.
charge of everything…. I used to check her bank statements. I used to manage her bank account. It was like I was the house husband. The relationship with my mother was always very good. My mother never… even before she knew it or even after she knew it…. ever treated me badly. Excerpt 3 – Fernando’s relationship with his mother
Fernando’s mother is a prominent social actor in his narrative interview and his identity is defined in relation to her. Throughout the text there are several occurrences of association (cf. van Leeuwen, 2008) between Fernando (as an actor in processes of doing, such as checking, managing, taking care of, etc.) and his mother (realized as circumstances of accompaniment – “with my mother” or “with her”). When describing his relationship with his mother, Fernando claims to himself the identity of “the man of the house” (line 1) or “house husband” (line 6), portraying a relationship that resembles a heterosexual marriage with well-defined gender roles. ‘Heterosexualized’ masculine identities were also produced in discourse when participants represented their relationship with other women (such as female dates, girlfriends and wives) and their sexual positions when engaging in sex with other men (top x bottom). 1. F: No meio da noite, eu acordei para tomar água e quando eu voltei [para o quarto], quando eu 2. cheguei na porta, aquilo me deu um baque. Aquilo me... E eu namorava muitas mulheres... Eu 3. seguia aquele padrão. Eu namorava muitas gurias, todas queriam ficar comigo... por ser da cidade, 4. supostamente filho de um dos maiores fazendeiros da região (...) E aquele cara deitado, aquilo me 5. desconcertou... Translation 1. F: In the middle of the night, I woke up to drink some water and when I got back [to the 2. bedroom], when I arrived at the door, that made me distraught. That…. And I used to date a lot of
97 women… I used to follow that pattern [of behavior]. I used to date lots of girls, all of them wanted 4. to make out with me… because I lived in the city, supposedly the son of one of the richest ranchers 5. of the region (…) And that guy lying on the bed, that baffled me… 3.
Excerpt 4 – Fernando’s unexpected event with a country boy at night
Excerpt 4 is part of the narrative in which Fernando describes the first time he masturbated watching a cowboy while sleeping. During the telling, he interrupts the complicating action (line 2) and returns to the orientation (lines 2-5) as a way to provide more details of his identity at the time. However, by offering additional information on ‘who he was’, Fernando also emphasizes his manliness through the relationship he had with young women (“I used to date lots of girls”, “all of them wanted to make out with me”). Fernando therefore constructs his masculine identity as a ‘womanizer’, which is a ‘naturalized’ male identity in Brazil (Parker, 1994). 1. 2. 3. 4.
R: E daí como tu defines a tua identidade sexual? V: Bissexual. Vou definir como bissexual. R: Uhum … V: Gosta de mulher... Bissexual, mas ativo. Bissexual ativo, se tu quiser... é mais certo. Eu me defino 5. assim. 6. R: Tá, mas o bissexual... ele não se apaixona por... 7. V: Apaixona, eu tenho uma relação estável... 8. R: ... homens? 9. V: Pode se apaixonar por homens. Eu não disse que não podia... 10: R: Ah, mas você disse que não se apaixona? 11: V: Eu não me apaixono porque eu não procuro um relacionamento, eu já tenho um relacionamento. 12. Eu já to apaixonado... Eu já tenho a minha mulher. A gente tem um casamento, dois filhos. (...) Translation 1. R: So how do you define your sexual identity? 2. V: Bissexual. I’m gonna define it as bissexual. 3. R: Uhu …
98 4. V: [Someone] who desires women... Bisexual, but top. Bisexual top, if it’s that want you want [to 5. know]... it’s more accurate. I define myself this way. 6. R: Right, but a bisexual [man]... does not fall in love... 7. V: He does [fall in love], I have a stable relationship... 8. R: …With men? 9. V: [He] can fall in love with men. I didn’t tell you he can’t… 10. R: Oh, but you said you don’t fall for [men]... 11. V: I don’t fall in love because I’m not looking for a [long-term] relationship, I already have one. I’m 12. already in love... I already have my wife. We have a marriage, two sons. (…) Excerpt 5 – Vinícius’s stance on bissexuality
In Excerpt 5, Vinícius, in a similar way to Fernando, defines his male identity through his relation to a woman, in this case his wife and their marriage. Vinícius initially defines his sexual identity as ‘bissexual’ and defines women as the ‘goal’ of his desire (line 4). Next, the researcher asks for further clarification on his understanding of ‘bissexuality’ (line 6) and a recognitional overlap (Jefferson, 1984) occurs: he anticipates the remainder of the researcher’s unfinished sentence (line 7). Based on his particular experience of bisexuality, Vinícius implicitly assumes that the researcher is asking about falling in love “with women” and gets surprised when he founds out the researcher refers to falling in love “with men”. His reaction reflects a dominant culture of heterosexuality and its long-standing association with idealized notions of love and romance. His discourse also draws a distinction between love and sex, between the ‘home’ (the place for emotional comfort and security) and the ‘street’ (the place for pleasures and fun without commitment), pervasive in the traditional sexual culture of the Brazilian society (Parker, 1994). Furthermore, Vinícius, by defining his sexual identity as “bissexual top”, extrapolates the maxim of quantity of information required in the interaction (cf. Grice, 1975), revealing also his sexual role. By including non-solicited information, Vinícius emphasizes and reproduces a traditional system of gender/sexuality pervasive in the Brazilian culture in which sexual roles (‘top’ x ‘bottom’) are defining
99 features of gender identity (Parker, 1994), thus reinforcing his sense of mainstream masculinity. Despite his attempts to secure a ‘bisexual’ identity, Vinícius’ discourse is marked by instability, a tension between his attempt to perform a local hegemonic masculinity (a typical Brazilian ‘real man’ who is virile, married, and has children ) and his sexual desire for other men, which destabilizes and confuses his self-identity. At the end of the interview, when asked about his stance towards sexual movements and LGBTIQ visibility in the Brazilian media, Vinícius surprisingly positions himself as ‘gay’ (“because I am gay too” – Excerpt 6, line 10), contradicting the way he defined his sexual identity earlier (“bisexual”). (…) 1. R: Então como tu avalias, por exemplo, a situação atual dos direitos “homossexuais” [LGBT]... tu 2. apoias o que acontecendo na mídia [visibilidade].... 3. V: Na novela tem sempre um gay... 4. R: ... nas ruas [as demonstrações públicas de afeto entre pessoas do mesmo sexo]... Como você avalia 5. isso? 6. V: Eu avalio como uma mudança na sociedade. 7. R: Uhum ... mas se você tivesse que fazer isso? 8. V: Eu acho que não, acho que é preciso uma reencarnação... uma segunda ou terceira vida... não sei... 9. Porque eu também tenho que mudar dentro de mim, né?... Tenho que mudar dentro de mim... 10. mesmo... Na verdade, não me choca mais... porque eu sendo gay também... pra mim não faz 11. diferença. (…) Translation 1. R: So how do you evaluate, for example, the current situation of homosexuals’ rights [LGBTIQ]… do 2. you support what is going on in the media [visibility]… 3. V: In the soap opera there is always a gay [man]… 4. R: … on the streets [public demonstrations of affection between people of the same gender]… 5. how do you evaluate it? 6. V: I evaluate as a change in society.
100 7. R: Uhu … what if you had to do that? 8. V: I guess I can’t, I guess I’d need a reincarnation... a second or third life... I don’t know... Because 9. I also need to change inside, right?... I have to change inside of me... for real… In fact, it doesn’t 10. shock me anymore... because I’m gay too... it doesn’t make any difference to me. Excerpt 6 – Vinícius’s stance on ‘LGBTQ rights’
One interesting feature in the narratives produced by the participants is role allocation – the type of role (as actors or goals) social actors play in a social practice (cf. van Leeuwen, 2008). Most participants in my study tried to construct a ‘straight-acting’ masculinity in discourse (and also through their embodiments), though they predominantly played the roles of goals or beneficiaries in the represented social practices. In other words, the male social actors played a ‘passive’, neutral role, which is traditionally associated to the female gender. This is exemplified in Fernando’s narrative on his first date with a man: (…) 1. F: A primeira relação que eu tive com um homem eu estava em um ônibus, vindo do trabalho... E eu 2. tava em um processo muito ruim da minha vida, muito de aceitação, não saía de casa, não me 3. aceitava... a minha vida era um mundinho assim. 4. P: Que idade você tinha [quando isso aconteceu]? 5. F: Eu tinha uns 21 anos. E daí eu lembro que eu tava em um ônibus vindo do trabalho pra casa... e 6. sentou aquele cara do meu lado. Eu tava do lado de fora do banco e ele pediu licença e se sentou... 7. Ele era assim coxudo, bem saradão... advogado... Ele sentou do meu lado e por dentro aquilo 8. começou a me ferver... Ele era grandão e então encostava... Nossa, me desconcertou... E ele abriu 9. uma pasta... e fez assim ... comentou alguma coisa do tipo assim... “Advogado sem carro é
dose, né?... Tem que ficar indo pra fora, tem que estar dependendo...”. Eu disse: “Você é advogado?” [E ele]: “Sou”. Minha mãe tem uns negócios pra resolver, assim, assim... me deu um cartão e disse vai lá no meu escritório com ela. Daí eu desci no meu ponto e ele foi embora. Aquilo ficou na minha cabeça. Eu cheguei em casa, comentei com a minha mãe e tudo... e ela [disse]: “então a gente vai lá conversar com ele pra ver”... Com a minha mãe eu sempre tomei partido em tudo – “o homem da casa”. Ela sempre deixou muito comigo as coisas porque ela confiou sempre em mim. E fomos lá. Fomos uma primeira vez e conversamos, etc. etc. e tal. E daí pra adiante eu que sempre tive contato com ele, eu que resolvia as coisas com ele. Ligava para saber do processo dos documentos que precisava... E cada vez que eu ia no escritório, por exemplo, ele tava às vezes de camisa branca... Ele era bem sarado.... Salientava bem o corpo dele. Me chamava muito a atenção. Ele, nossa, ficava assim muito... Um dia ele me ligou e disse: “Fernando, preciso que você vá no fórum pegar um documento para o teu processo pra trazer pra mim porque eu tô sem carro e não tem como eu ir... e já é tarde. Mas você pode pegar porque o processo tá no teu nome”. Eu fui lá e peguei um documento. Era uma sexta-feira. Peguei o documento. Fui pra casa, tomei um banho, jantei e disse “Mãe, vou lá no Dr. Elias le//var um documento que ele pediu”. Cheguei lá, era meio que finalzinho de tarde, ele tava cozinhando... a cozinha dele era mais ou menos isso aqui com uma mesa assim [inaudível]... [Ele disse:] “Oi, Fernando, tudo bem?” Entrei... começamos a conversar, etc... sobre o processo, falando bastante sobre o processo... começamos a falar de mulher, etc. Ele assim pra mim: “Tu toma vinho?” Eu disse: “Eu adoro vinho”. [Ele] abriu um vinho,
começamos a tomar... E falando de mulher e tudo... e namorada... No Mato Grosso tive muita 30. namorada lá, mas nunca tinha transado com mulher e nem com homem. 31. P: Era interior? 32. F: Era interior do Mato Grosso, Nova Brazilândia... E eu sei que aquele papo foi, foi [inaudível] Ele 33. pegou se encostou na cadeira bem assim , olhou pra mim e disse assim “Tu deve pegar 34. muita mulher com essa cara de safado, né?... ou tu pega homem”. Ah, quando ele falou isso 35. [inaudível]. Aí eu assim “Eu sei o que tu quer saber. Eu vou te falar, eu tenho muita curiosidade”. E 36. eu disse: “Eu to aqui contigo, não sei, eu sinto uma coisa diferente”. Daí ele disse “É, não sei o 37. que... então tu é gay?”. Eu disse: “Eu não sou gay... eu não sei... só sei eu que sinto uma atração. 38. Sinto uma coisa que me deixa atraído pelo homem, pela figura masculina”. Daí fomos lá no quarto 39. dele... tinha uma pasta cheia de revistas pornô. Aí ele abriu e me deu umas revistas, começamos a 40. folhear... e ele disse: “O que tu sente?” E eu: “Eu to excitado”. [E ele disse:] “Então rapaz é só tu 41. partir pro crime. Posso te dar um abraço?” [E eu disse:] “Pode, mas eu não vou retribuir” Aí eu 42. levantei, ele me abraçou e eu fiquei assim ó. Aí ele saiu, aí eu [disse] “Elias, eu to indo embora”. [E 43. ele disse:] “Não, calma!”. [E eu disse:] “Não, deixa eu ir embora. Preciso ir embora. Isso aqui pra 44. mim... não sei... é muito estranho. Me deixa ir embora”. E fui embora... Eu tava me relacionando 45. com uma menina, ela era noiva. Daí o que aconteceu?... Isso era na sexta... no sábado eu ia sair com 46. ela. Aí eu fui na casa dela, na hora ela tinha se despedido do exnoivo... daí a mãe dela veio me 47. atender e disse que ela tava chorando e disse pra mim que eu deveria me afastar, pro meu bem... me
afastar dela porque ela ia me machucar... porque ela gostava do exnoivo ainda... Fazia meses que ela tinha terminado. E eu saí dali, no meu carro, e fui dar uma volta... não queria ir pra casa... queria dar uma volta, indignado com aquilo, né... E eu tava gostando dela. Aí, eu lembro que naquela época não tinha celular. Eu parei em um orelhão e liguei para ele e disse: “Elias, é Fernando”... “E aí, aconteceu alguma coisa, tá precisando de ajuda?”. E eu [disse]: “Não, não, quero saber se tu ainda quer continuar com aquele papo”. [E ele disse:] “Passa aqui em casa, então!”. Daí fui lá na casa dele então... Andamos a ilha inteira de madrugada... a gente passeou muito. E ele colocava a mão na minha perna assim e eu tremia. [E eu disse:] “Não toca em mim. Não toca em mim porque isso pra mim não existe, um homem ficar com outro homem. Eu não quero! Vamos conversar...”. Daí fomos andando, conversando, conversando... E fomos no Morro da Cruz. Eu lembro que ele estava com um agasalho branco assim... daí chegamos nos Morro da Cruz, estávamos conversando... ele tava em pé... E o Morro da Cruz é assim: tu chega e tem a parte da frente e a parte de trás... a parte de trás da ilha. Daí eu passei na frente dele, eu notei que ele estava excitado...passei na frente dele pra ver a parte de trás da ilha. Quando eu voltei, que eu passei de novo na frente dele, eu virei pra ele e beijei ele.... porque ele disse: “Eu não vou fazer mais nada. Se você quiser fazer alguma coisa, vai partir de você”... E eu peguei e beijei ele. E foi naquela noite que eu transei a primeira vez com homem. E assim... E eu me sentia muito bem, me senti aliviado, né?... pelo fato de ele tirar aquela vontade, assim... A gente ficou nove meses juntos. Eu terminei porque daí eu lembro que ele já queria envolver outras pessoas. Sabe a três, a quatro.. Pra mim,
imagina. Era virgem, primeiro relacionamento sexual... e com homem. Translation (…) 1. F: The first date I had with a man I was on a bus coming from work…I was going through a very bad 2. process in my life, of acceptance. I didn’t leave home, I didn’t accept myself… my world was a 3. tiny world like this. 4. R: How old were you when that happened? 5. F: I was about 21. I remember I was on a bus, coming home from work… and that guy sat on my side. 6. I was on the aisle seat and he asked me permission to sit down… He had like thick thighs, very 7. muscular… attorney… He sat on my side and that thing started to burn inside… He was big and 8. was leaning on me… Wow! [That] baffled me… He opened a case… did something like this 9. … and commented something like… “An attorney without a car is fucked up, isn’t? He 10. needs to drive constantly and depends [on others for doing it]”. I said: “Are you an attorney?”. [He 11. said:] “I am”. [I told him:] My mother has some legal matters to deal with like… he gave me a card 12. and said: “Visit my office with her”. Then I got off the bus at my destination and he was gone. That 13. [happening] stuck in my mind. I got home, talked to my mom about him…and she [said]: “So we’ll 14. go there to discuss with him”… With my mother I always took care of everything – “the man of the 15. house”. She always left things for me to do because she always trusted me. And we went there. We 16. went for the first time and talked with him and so on. From that day on, I was the one who always 17. kept in touch with him, I was the one to work things through with him. I was the one who called 18. him to know about the lawsuit, about the required documents… And each time I went to his office,
105 for example, he was wearing a white shirt… He was very muscular… [that] drew attention to his 20. body. He, wow, was like very… One day he called me and said “Fernando, I need you to go to the 21. court to take a file for me [to add] to your lawsuit because I have no car and I can’t go there… and 22. it’s already late. You can take it because you’re the plaintiff”. I went there and took the document. 23. It was Friday. I took the document, took a shower, had dinner and said “Mom, I’m going to Elias’s 24. office to take him a document he asked me to”. When I got there, it was almost evening, he was 25. cooking… his kitchen was something like this, with a table like this [inaudible]… [He said:] “Hi, 26. Fernando, how are you?” I came in… we started talking… about the process, talking a lot about the 27. process… we started about women... girfriends… In Mato Grosso, I had a girlfriend there, but had 28. never had sex with a woman neither a man. 29. R: Was it countryside? 30. F: It was Mato Grosso’s countryside, Nova Brazilândia… and I remember that the coversation went 31. on [inaudible]. He leaned back on the chair like this, looked at me and said: “You must make out 32. with a lot of women with this naughty face, right?... or do you make out with men?”. Wow! When 33. he said that [inaudible]. Then I said: “I know what you wanna know. I’m going to tell you, I have 34. much curiosity”. And I said: “I’m here with you, I don’t know, I feel something different”. Then he 35. said: “Yeah, I don’t know what… so are you gay?”. I said: “I’m not gay… I don’t know… I just 36. that I feel an attraction. I feel something that makes me attracted to men, to a masculine 37. figure”. Then we came into his bedroom… There was a file with several [gay] porn magazines. 38. Then he opened the file and gave me one of them, we started to take a look… and he said “What 19.
do you feel?” And I [said:] “I’m horny”. [And he said:] “So man, you just need to get laid. Can I give you a hug?”. [And I said:] “You can, but I’m not going to reciprocate”. Then I stood up, he hugged me and I stood still like this. Then he released me [from his arms] and I said: “Elias, I’m leaving”. [And he said:] “No, calm down!”. [And I said:] “No, let me go. I need to go. What’s going on here, to me… I don’t know… it’s very awkward. Let me go”. And then I was gone… I was having a relationship with a girl, she was engaged before I dated her]. Then what happened? It was Friday… On Saturday I was going to go out with her. I came to her house, she had just said good-bye to her ex-fiancé… then her mother welcomed me and told me she was crying and that I should break up with her because I could get hurt… because she still loved her ex… There were several months after she broke up with him. And I left her house by car and went for a drive… I didn’t wanna go home… wanted to go for a ride, pissed off with that, right…. I was in love with her. Then I remember that time there were no cell phones. I pulled off next to a public phone, called him and said: “Elias, it’s Fernando”… [And he said:] “What’s up? What’s going on? Do you need any help?” And I [said]: No, no, I just wanna know if you want to resume our conversation”. [And he said:] “Come over here!”. Then I went over to his house… We drove all over the island [Florianopolis] late at night… we hung out a lot. And he put his hand on my leg like this and I was shaken. [And I said:] Don’t touch me! Don’t touch me because this doesn’t exist to me, a man making out with another man. I don’t want it! Let’s talk…”. Then we started walking, talking, talking… and we headed out for Morro da Cruz. I remember he was wearing a white coat like
107 58. 59. 60. 61. 62. 63. 64. 65. 66. 67.
this… then we arrived at Morro da Cruz, we were talking… he was standing… And Morro da Cruz is like this: when you arrive there, there’s the front part and the back part… the back part of the island. Then I passed in front of him, I noticed he was horny… passed in front of him to take a look at the back part. When I returned, when I passed in front of him again, I turned to him and kissed him… because he said: “I’m not going to do anything else. If you wanna do something, it’s up to you”… Then I grabbed and kissed him. And it was that night I had sex for the first time with a man. And like… I was feeling so good, I felt relieved, right?... because he took that desire away… We stayed together for nine months. I broke up with him because I remember that he wanted to bring other people [to our relationship]. You know, a threesome, a foursome… To me, get the picture. I was a virgin, first sexual relationship… and with a man. (…) Excerpt 7 – Fernando’s first date with a man
During his telling, Fernando provides a long and detailed portrayal of an event that recontextualizes the social practice of ‘dating’. Stereotipically, dating is predominantly heterosexual and consists of a preferred set of roles and procedures: a man (usually older) gets attracted to a woman (usually younger and seemingly innocent); he makes the first move in order to get close to her; she plays ‘hard to get’; he shows off to her; she gets relaxed and starts smiling at him; he grabs her waist and kisses her; he takes her home; she gives him an excuse for not inviting him to come in, but gives him hope they can ‘hang out’ another time. In Fernando’s narrative, dating another man is framed in terms of heterosexual dating. His role in the narrative is passivated whereas the role of his male date is activacted. Fernando represents himself mostly as someone who is affected by the actions of another man (“he sat on my side”, “[that] baffled me”, “he looked at me”, “he hugged me’, “he put his hand on my leg”) and he only engages in action
108 toward his date (“I turned and kissed him”, line 14) at the end of the narrative (resolution). Some participants in the research also backgrounded their agency in the social practices by including other impersonal, generalized social actors such as “God”, “society” or “people”. (…) 1. A: Quando eu voltei depois de uns 20 minutos, eles falaram assim: “A gente orou para Deus, ele 2. decidiu, não nós, a gente só está aqui para servir de instrumento [inaudível], você não vai ser 3. excomungado. [E eu disse:] “Sério? Eu achava que iria, por conhecer o ensinamento da Igreja”. Aí 4. eu fui entender que Deus me amava, naquele dia, independentemente do que faço ou seja. (...) 5. Eles falaram assim que eu poderia continuar frequentando a Igreja e que a Igreja iria me ajudar a 6. controlar os meus sentimentos... 7. R: Huhum 8. A: Mas que eu poderia continuar… porque era entre eu e Deus agora. Mais nada. Eu já tinha 9. confessado e a gente só está para te ajudar a controlar os teus sentimentos. Eu achei aquilo bacana. Translation 1. A: (...) When I’ve got back after about 20 minutes, they told me [something] like this: “We’ve prayed 2. to God, he’s decided, not us. We are here to serve as an instrument [to God’s will], you’re not 3. going to be excommunicated. [And I said:] “Really? I thought I would for knowing the teachings 4. of the Church”. Then I understood that God loved me, that day, no matter what I do or what I am. 5. (…) They told me that I could keep attending the Church and that the Church would help me to 6. control my feelings… 7. R: Huhu 8. A: But I could keep [going]… because it was [an issue] between me and God from now on, [that] I
already confessed and they were there to help me control my feelings. I thought that was nice. Excerpt 8 – Adriano’s confession in the Church
Excerpt 8 is part of Adriano’s narrative of his confession in the Mormon church (see Chapter 4, section 4.2). It describes the final stage of a social practice in which a group of church authorities decided over the status of his membership based on his confession. Throughout his narrative interview, “God” is a prominent social actor that exerts a considerable power over the participants and also confers power to other social actors who are ‘functionalized’ (“missionaries”, “pastors”, “the bishop”, etc.) – referred in terms of an activity (preaching) or ‘spatialized’ – referred in terms of a place which they are closely associated (“the Church”). The immaterial, invisible image of God, which cannot be accessed or argued against, becomes the main source of power of the Church as an institution that exerts control through knowledge. According to Foucault (1978a), confession is the means through which individuals internalize surveillance, acting both as the ‘watcher’ and the ‘watched’, the ‘governor’ and ‘the governed’. By confessing all that is hidden inside, all that needs to be known, they allow power (in the form of knowledge) to analyze, judge, counsel and ‘correct’ their lives. By knowing Adriano’s ‘hidden truth’ (his ‘uncontrollable desire’ for other men), the Church and Adriano himself presumably would be in a better position to control his ‘perverse’ sexuality (lines 8 and 9). Adriano’s discourse (and my own ethnographic inquiry as a guest in his church45) indicates that the great majority of Brazilian churches (except the newly LGBTIQ-oriented ones46) promote a tolerance politics: gays and lesbians (not trans people, though) are welcomed as long as they remain ‘invisible’, that is, gender-conforming and silent about their sexualities (which means not ‘flaunting’ their homosexuality in public). I attended a Sunday mass in Adriano’s church as a guest. He asked me to watch him play the piano and I took the opportunity to observe closely his interaction with other members of the church. 46 One example is Igreja Conteporânea Cristã (Contemporary Christian Church), which “takes God’s love to everyone, without prejudice”. Source: http://www.igrejacontemporanea.com.br/site/index.php. Retrieved on March, 15 th, 2015. 45
110 Similarly to Adriano’s narrative interview, Vinícius’s also features God (or rather “the Holy Spirit”) as an important social actor. (…) 1. F: Fabio, a minha aceitação foi uma coisa muito “divina”. Foi uma coisa assim fora do comum... 2. Ai tá, eu namorei esse cara, terminei com ele e depois dele tive namorada e... praticamente não me 3. relacionava. Era uma pessoa fechada de novo. (....). Eu sempre me perguntava... quando eu tava 4. sozinho… eu sempre me perguntando “Meu Deus, por que eu não sou uma pessoa feliz? Minha 5. irmã mora fora [do país]. Minha mãe viaja o ano todo. Minha irmã está feliz com os filhos. E eu 6. não sou feliz, eu tenho tudo para ser feliz Eu não me relaciono com as pessoas, não tenho amigos, 7. não tenho nada”... Anos e anos me perguntando aquilo... E um dia, Fabio, eu tava em casa... Eu 8. escrevia... hoje eu não escrevo mais... mas eu escrevia poemas. O som tocando, eu tava em casa 9. escrevendo, era início de verão. Tinha um sol radiante lá fora... E eu tava ali escrevendo 10. assim... E de repente, Fabio, a música parece que se desligou... e na minha volta, assim, veio uma 11. luz muito intensa... muito intensa... né, a luz do sol... imagina eu aqui e uma luz aqui que 12. me cobria todo... Eu não via nada na minha volta. Sabe aquela figura que tem do espírito santo, 13. aquela luz divina que tu só vê aquela figura?... Então, eu tava ali escrevendo, aquela luz se fez, 14. assim, uma luz muito intensa, branca... mas forte mesmo. Eu não via nada na minha volta... não 15. escutava nada. Eu só tava ali e uma voz me dizia assim ó: “Fernando, você só vai ser feliz quando 16. você aceitar a natureza que eu te dei”. Falou isso umas três vezes... “Quando você aceitar a pessoa
que você é, como eu te botei nesse mundo, é que você vai ser uma pessoa feliz. Viva tua vida, não 18. se preocupe com mais nada”. Aquilo durou acho que segundos, mas parece que durou uma 19. eternidade. E falou aquilo e parece que... saiu da minha cabeça, sabe? Tudo o que eu sempre 20. perguntei... com aquelas palavras saiu tudo. E de repente aquela luz se desfez, vi a luz do sol de 21. novo, o som voltou a tocar... Só que a minha sensação de felicidade era tão grande, tão grande... tu 22. não tem noção. Eu te me arrepio quando eu conto porque foi uma coisa muito divina... bonita! E eu 23. me sentia muito leve... leve, leve, leve. Sabe, foi aí que decidi eu sou gay... eu gosto de homem... e 24. eu vou viver com isso. Essa é a natureza que eu tenho nesse momento...e não vou me permitir mais 25. ser aquela pessoa infeliz que eu era. E realmente oi aquela coisa... nossa!... Foi uma coisa muito 26. divina. Foi daí que realmente me aceitei. (…) Translation (…) 1. F: Fabio, my acceptance was something very “divine”. It was something like out of ordinary… Then I 2. dated that guy, broke up with him and after [dating] him I had a girlfriend and… virtually had no 3. relationships. I was withdrawn again. (…) I used to ask myself… when I was alone… I was always 4. asking myself “My God, why am I not a happy person? My sister lives abroad. My mom travels 5. abroad every year. My sister is happy with her children. And I am not happy, I have everything 6. [that is needed] to be happy. Everything! And I am not happy. I have no relationships with people, I 7. have no friends, I have nothing”… Year after year asking myself that [question]… And one day, 8. Fabio, I was at home… I used to write… Nowadays I don’t write anymore… but I used to write
poems. The sound was playing; I was at home writing. It was the beginning of summertime. There was a shining sun outside… And I was there writing like this, like this… And suddenly, Fabio, it seemed that the music stopped playing [by itself]… and around me, like, a very intense light appeared … very intense… the sunlight… imagine I’m here and a light here covering me completely … I saw nothing around me. Do you know that image of the Holy Spirit, that divine light in which you see that figure?... So I was there writing, that light appeared, like this, a very intense white light… but strong indeed. I saw nothing around... heard nothing. I was just there and a voice told me something like: “Fernando, you’re only going to be happy when you accept the nature I gave to you”. It told me that three times… “When you accept the person you are, the way I put you in this world, you’re going to be a happy person. Live your life, don’t worry about anything else”. That [episode] lasted a few seconds I guess, but it seemed like an eternity. And it told me that and it seemed that…[my doubts] were gone from my head, you know? Every question I asked myself … with those words everything was gone. And suddenly that light vanished, I saw the sunlight again, the music started playing again… However, my feeling of joy was so big, so big… you have no idea. I get chills everytime I tell [people] about it because it was something very divine… beautiful! And I [started] feeling very relieved… relieved… relieved. You know, that’s when I decided “I am gay… I like men… and I’m gonna live with that. This is the nature that I have right now… and I’m not going to allow myself to be that unhappy person I used to be”. And it was really such a thing...wow!... That was a very divine thing. That’s when I
In Excerpt 9, Fernando recontextualizes in his narrative the social practice of ‘accepting oneself’, which is part of another practice (coming out), as a ‘divine’, ‘magical’ episode. In Fernando’s narrative, the self-acceptance of his homosexual desire is not portrayed as the outcome of his own individual actions or reflections, but the result of a supernatural event, or rather exterior ‘forces’ or spiritual entities who acted upon him. His discourse describes a reaction (“a feeling of joy”, “I felt very relieved”) through the use of: (1) naturalizations – “actions represented as brought about in other ways, impervious to human agency – through natural forces, unconscious processes, and so on” (van Leeuwen, 2008, p. 66) such as “a very intense light appeared”, “that light vanished”, “the music stopped playing”, “with those words everything was gone”, “my doubts were gone from my head” and/or (2) the actions of impersonalized social actors “whose meanings do not include the semantic feature ‘human’” (van Leeuwen, 2008, p. 46), such as God or the Holy Spirit (e.g. “a voice told me something”. “the nature I gave to you”). However, despite the religious discourse in Fernando’s narrative (‘God made me this way’), he nonetheless legitimates his ‘coming out’ narrative by a biological ‘born this way’ discourse (‘this is the nature I have right now’), which has been used as a political strategy by LGBTIQ communities to avoid discrimination and violence. The analysis of men’s discourses carried out along this section has highlighted the instability, fragmentation, and fragility of (male) identities, which are produced by the interplay between local hegemonic cultures (of masculinity) in Brazil and a ‘global gay’ culture that offers the possibility of apparently unlimited sexual intimacy with other men. Through the means of discourse representation, these Brazilian MSM attempt to construct ‘normalized’, traditional male identities in discourse - either through their association to women (which serves to define/reinforce their position as males in the gender order) or their sexual roles (being the ‘active’ partner in sexual intercourse with men) and/or, as I demonstrate in the following section (5.2), by opposing their identity to that of ‘the homosexual’ as the ‘other’. However, when performing linguistically, they tend to assume a neutral, passive role (which is traditionally seen as not congruent with the male gender) and
114 they are more likely to background their social actions and attribute them to impersonalized social actors as a way to ‘naturalize’ or ‘regulate’ their same-sex desire. 5.2 “THEY DON’T KNOW HOW TO PUT THEMSELVES INTO THEIR RIGHT PLACE”: REPRESENTING THE HOMOSEXUAL AS ‘THE OTHER’ In their life narratives (or accounts), the MSM interviewed did not only attempt to construct masculine identities in discourse, but they also positioned their sexual identities against that of ‘the homosexual’ or rather ‘the faggot’. Relational identities were constructed when participants (1) positioned the ‘other’ as homosexual or gay (and themselves as ‘bisexuals’, though the polar identity of homosexual is ‘heterosexual’) or (2) positioned the other as ‘viado’ (faggot, fairy) and themselves as ‘respectable’ gays or homosexuals. (…) 1. P: Como você avalia o que está acontecendo hoje? As coisas estão mudando bastante... Parece que 2. está sendo mais debatido... essas questões... o que você acha disso que está acontecendo? Como 3. você avalia isso? 4. M: Pra o lado mais global ou lado mais pessoal? 5. P: O que você quiser enfocar... o que você achar... 6.M: Engraçado! Até eu mesmo tenho alguns preconceitos... com relação às relações homossexuais... 7. Confesso isso! Não sei se são preconceitos, mas... na minha cabeça assim... sei lá... as coisas 8. estão muito expostas, tipo TV... Eu tenho um monte de conhecidos homossexuais... eu convivo 9. em um ambiente que tem bastante... e me relaciono bem com eles. É engraçado que eu nunca tive 10. vontade de ter uma relação com nenhum... Mas algumas coisas assim eu acho... demais... é 11. interessante... não sei... é conflituoso. Translation
115 1. R: How do you evaluate what is going on nowadays? Things are changing a lot… It seems to me that 2. it has been increasingly debated… those issues… what do you think about what is going on? How 3. do you evaluate it? 4. M: On a global or personal standpoint? 5. R: What you want to focus… what you think [is best]… 6. M: It’s funny! Even I hold some prejudices… regarding homosexual relations… I confess it! I don’t 7. know if those are prejudices, but… in my mind like…. maybe… things are too explicit, such as on 8. TV… I have a lot of homosexual acquaintances… I live in a space where there are lots… and I 9. have a good relationship with them. It’s funny that I never ever wanted to have sex with any of 10. them… However, certain things like I think… [are] too much… it’s interesting… I don’t know… 11. it’s conflicting. (…) Excerpt 10 – Marcelo’s stance on LGBTIQ visibility
In Excerpt 10, Marcelo provides his stance on LGBTIQ visibility, which has been a trending topic in the Brazilian media. His discourse is characterized by a ‘differentation’ (cf. van Leeuwen, 2008) between the ‘self’ and the ‘others’ in which his identity - as a ‘normal’ man, married with a woman, with kids - is opposed to the that of ‘homosexuals’, those who publicly ‘assume’ a homosexual identity. In Marcelo’s view, his sexual practices (having sex with other men) do not define his identity because “homosexual relations” (which involve love and affection) and “homosexual acquaintances” (line 8) are not part of his heterosexual world. In order to express his opinion and save his face, Marcelo initially qualifies public homosexuality negatively as “explicit” (line 7), reinforcing the status of heterosexuality as a legitimate mode of relating, and later reproduces a mainstream discourse of ‘tolerance’ (“I live in a space where there are lots… and I have a good relationship with them” – lines 8-9). Marcelo’s construction of his ‘self’ (in a clear opposition to ‘the homosexual’) is slightly different from Vinícius’s identity construction. Although both are married men with presumably heterosexual lives, Vinícius’ self-identity is ambiguous, waving between bisexual and gay (see Excerpts 5 and 6, p. 97-100).
116 Thus, for Vinícius, the difference between his ‘self’ and the ‘others’ concerns the ‘gay closet’ (“I don’t come out”). In contrast to Marcelo and Vinícius, the three other participants (Lucas, Fernando and Adriano) construct their ‘selves’ against those of ‘viados’ and ‘bichas loucas’47 (crazy faggots): (…) 1. P: Você gosta de discretos? O que significa a palavra discreto para você? 2. L: Não dar bandeira para os outros 3. P: Não ter assumido ou não dar pinta para os outros? 4. L: Não dar pinta, pode até ser assumido para si, pra família mas não dar pinta pra sociedade em geral, 5. não tem necessidade. 6. P: Sim, então tem limites para esse assumir? 7. L: Sim, acho que hoje em dia as pessoas estão muito assim ‘quer assumir, pode assumir, mas 8. continuem sendo homem, agindo como homem normal’... não precisa ser uma ‘bichona’, ou uma 9. ‘coisa esquisita’ pra ser gay, pelo menos é o que eu penso. Eu sou gay, mas não preciso sair por aí 10. gritando aos quatro ventos. (...) 11. P: Você vê algum problema em dois homens morando juntos? Alguns me falaram que não acreditam 12. no amor entre dois homens. 13. L: As pessoas dizem que é só sexo, né? Eu acho que pode existir o amor, sim, mas, pra existir o amor, 14. tem de sair dessas promiscuidades, né? Os caras querem namorar, casar, mas querem andar na 15. balada. Daí não combina, né? É que nem homem e mulher, quando eles casa, eles não vão mais 16. entrar em roda de solteiro, eles vão andar com gente casada, né? Os homossexuais não tem uma 47
The meanings and origins of pejorative terms for effeminate men who had sex with men in Brazil are thoroughly discussed in James Green’s (2000) historical work on male homosexuality (p. 80-84).
postura, eles não sabem se colocar no seu lugar quando eles estão em um relacionamento. Por essa 18. razão eles não conseguem ficar, aceleram tudo, se conhecem, já compram uma aliança, já pedem 19. em casamento, já falam que querem comprar um carro juntos e a vida não é assim, né? A vida é aos 20. poucos, devagar, né? Translation (...) 1. P: Do you like ‘discretos’ [straight-acting MSM]? What does the word ‘discreto’ mean to you? 2. L: not to draw attention from others [regarding one’s homosexuality]. 3. R: not come out [as gay] or not draw attention from others? 4. L: not to draw attention from others, [he] may even have come out to himself, to his family, but does 5. not draw attention from society in general, there is no need. 6. R: Yes, are there any limits for this coming out? 7. L: Yes, I think that nowadays people are very much like ‘if you want to come out, you may come out, 8. but keep it manly, acting like a normal man’… You don’t need to be a ‘big fag’, or a ‘queer thing’ 9. to be gay, at least this is what I think. I am gay, but I don’t need to go out there shouting from the 10. rooftops. (…) 11. R: Do you see any problem when two men live together [as a couple]? Some men have told me that 12. they don’t believe in love between two men. 13. L: People say it’s only about sex, don´t they? I guess that love may exist, yes, but to get love, [they] 14. have to leave promiscuity behind, right? [Gay] guys want to date, get married, but [also] want to 15. hang out in nightclubs. These don’t go well together, right? It’s like a man and a woman, when 16. they get married, they won’t go to single meetups, they’ll hang out with married people, right?
118 17. 18. 19. 20. 21.
Homosexuals have no [adequate] posture, they don’t know how to put themselves into their place when they’re in a [committed] relationship. That’s why they can’t stay together [for a long [time], they rush everything, they meet, buy a promise ring right away, they propose right away, they plan to buy a car together right away and life is not like that, right? Life [happens] little by little, slowly, right? (…)
Excerpt 11 – Lucas’s stance on ‘gay masculinity’ and same-sex relationships
In Excerpt 11, Lucas defines and describes the performance of ‘gay masculinity’ which he desires and also attempts to embody “discreto” (which literally means discreet). In this context, ‘discreto’ not only refers to a human trait (‘not likely to be seen or noticed by many people’), but also to a specific performance or trait of a sexual identity, in other words, a gay man who is straight-acting or able to pass off as straight. Lucas’s ‘self’ is aligned with this specific social identity and opposed to other ‘abject’, unintelligible sexual identities that do not conform to the male gender norms (“big fag”, “queer thing” – line 8). Among Brazilian MSM, the ‘discreto’ performance is dominant and serves to reproduce both the internal hegemony of homonormativity and the external hegemony of heteronormativity. On the one hand, Lucas views being or acting as a ‘man’ as ‘normal’, something which occurs naturally to any ‘biological’ man, independent of his sexual orientation. However, on the other hand, by constructing effeminacy as negative and unnatural - as a conscious challenge to heterosexual norms and values (“there is no need” – line 5, “I don’t need to go out there shouting from the rooftops” – lines 9-10), he nonetheless perpetuates the common-sense discourse in which effeminacy is a sign of homosexuality, which should never be flaunted. Homonormativity and the construction of ‘self’ in Lucas’ discourse is not only realized in terms of gender performance, but also in terms of heterosexual norms and institutions. Although Lucas defines his sexual identity as ‘gay’, he differentiates his self from ‘other homosexuals’ (line 17) as a generalized category. For Lucas, ‘good homosexuals’ like himself should build homosexual relationships similarly to heterosexual marriage (“It’s like a man and a woman when
119 they get married” – lines 15-16). This means complying with a set of rules and guidelines in specific social practices such as ‘hanging out with friends’ (“they won’t go to singles’ meetups, they’ll hang out with married people” – line 16). In contrast, the ‘bad homosexuals’ subvert heterosexual practices (“[Gay] guys want to date, get married, but [also] want to hang out in nightclubs” – lines 14-15, “they rush everything” – line 19) and, as a consequence, ‘fail’ to establish long-term relationships (“That’s why they can’t stay together [for a long time]” – lines 18-19). Lucas, therefore, by offering a one-sided critical evaluation of homosexual identities and relationships, ultimately renders heterosexual marriage a ‘neutral’ place, which is not affected by several ‘troubles of intimacy’ (such as betrayal, sexual abuse, domestic violence, gender inequality, etc.). Like Lucas, Adriano also differentiates his identity from that of ‘fags’ and aligns himself with ‘normal’ gays when describing the relationship with his father or with peers at work: (…) 1. P: E o teu pai é vivo até hoje? 2. A: Ele já faleceu. 3. P: Como era a tua relação com ele? 4. A: Super tranquila. Ele sempre me respeitou. Tudo que eu pedia ele me dava. Ele só me ensinava a ter 5. caráter. Com relação à minha opção sexual, ele nunca se intrometeu. Ele já sabia quando eu 6. chegava tarde em casa. Quando eu não chegava. É óbvio que ele sabia onde eu tava, com quem eu 7. tava. 8. P: As relações que tu tiveste foram todas secretas então? 9. Nunca fui aberto... eu nunca andei com “viado” do meu lado. Sempre fui sozinho, na minha. 10. Quando eu queria aprontar, eu sabia onde é que eu achava. (…) 11. P: Aqui você nunca sofreu preconceito? 12. A: Aqui não. 13. P: Nem no trabalho? 14. A: Jamais. As pessoas me adoram no meu trabalho. Inclusive, lá no hotel que eu trabalho, nos últimos
turnos que eu trabalho, são três gays na recepção. Eles contratam muitos gays para trabalhar na 16. hotelaria por causa da forma de se expressar. Isso é importante. Atrair o cliente, conversar. Os gays 17. têm essa coisa de, né? Pra trabalhar na hotelaria é bom, não pode ser uma coisa mecânica. Aqui 18. nunca sofri preconceito, nem no trabalho. No trabalho as pessoas me adoram, me respeitam. Translation 1. R: Is your father still alive? 2. A: He’s already passed away. 3. R: How was your relationship with him? 4. A: Very calm. He always respected me. He always gave me everything I asked for. He only taught me 5. to develop character. Regarding my sexual option, he never made a point. He knew when I got 6. home late [at night or], when I didn’t get home. It was obvious he knew where I was, with whom I 7. was. 8. R: So were your relations all secret? 9. A: I was never open [about my sexuality]… I’ve never hung out with fags. I was always alone, on my 10. own. When I wanted to get laid, I knew where I could find it. (…) 11. R: Have you ever suffered any prejudice here? 12. A: Here, no. 13. R: Even at work? 14. A: Never. People love me in my job. By the way, in the hotel where I work, in the last shift, there are 15. three gay [guys working] at the reception [desk]. They hire lots of gay [guys] to work in the hotel 16. sector because of the way they express themselves. This is important. To attract the client, chat. 17. Gay [guys] have a knack for… right? To work in the hotel sector, this is good, it cannot be 18. mechanical. Here I never suffered any prejudice, neither at work. In my job people love me, they 19. respect me.
121 Excerpt 12 – Adriano’s relationship with his father and his relationship with peers at work
In Excerpt 12, Adriano portrays his relationship with his father based on ‘tolerance’ like that held between many Brazilian gay men/lesbian women and their parents. ‘Respect’ from him is earned because both manage to keep Adriano’s homosexuality an ‘open secret’: his father ‘knows’ or ‘suspects’ it, but somehow they keep it unspoken. In order to keep his homosexuality unspoken or rather ‘acceptable’, Adriano distances himself from ‘fags’ (“I’ve never hung out with fags” – line 9), effeminate, loud, gay men48. However, Adriano does not only define his identity in terms of gender conformity, but also in terms of race and class. As a working class African-Brazilian man, Adriano attempts to occupy a position of “hegemony within the marginality” (Ratele, 2014) - as ‘good’ and ‘normal’ - by aligning himself with people from the church (who are gender-conforming and mostly white middleclass) and with ‘normal’ gays who are successfully assimilated into the labor market. The ‘normalcy’ of gay men in his discourse is constructed through the categorization of social actors (‘gays’) that hold an essential attribute (“the way they express themselves” – line 16) which serves the interests of capitalism (“to work in the hotel sector, this is good” – line 17). Adriano’s discourse therefore aligns with a dominant assimilationist discourse. Indeed, gay men and lesbian women (but rarely trans people) are increasingly assimilated into the workforce, but they nevertheless tend to remain in low-wage jobs49 due to the challenges (or, at worst, losses) in the negotiation of ‘outness’ in the workplace. To sum up, the analysis developed in this section has demonstrated how the construction of masculinity in Brazil relies on a relational process of identification in which normal ‘selves’ are opposed to abject, pathological ‘others’. Men who identified as bisexual, but performed as heterosexual, contrasted themselves with men who Despite Adriano’s efforts to construct a ‘normal’ gay identity for himself, his gender performance is somewhat deviant and it can be easily read as ‘effeminate’. 49 In his examination of the new ‘diversity’ in the US power elites, Zweingenhaft (2001) found that although the situation of gay men and lesbian women in the country is better now (as they are increasingly tolerated), they nevertheless tend to remain at the lower levels of the political and corporate worlds and there are no openly gays or lesbians in the military elite (p. 277 -278). 48
122 assumed a public (negative) gay identity, whereas men who identified as gay or homosexual positioned themselves against ‘fags’ (‘viados’). Overall, the process of identity construction centered on the notion of ‘normalcy’ – one’s ability ‘to blend in, to have no visible difference and no conflict’, which legitimates taken-for-granted heterosexual norms as “the only criteria of value” (Warner, 1999, p. 60).
5.3 SUMMARY The analysis conducted so far is revealing of four interconnected social forces in the lives of MSM in Brazil. First, the pervasiveness of Christian religions in the Brazilian culture (epitomized by the figures of God and Jesus Christ), which exerts a strong hold over the lower-middle classes50 and have arguably been the main source of hate and violence against LGBTIQ people in the country. Second, masculinity as a site power and privilege for Brazilian men is secured through the performances of local, regional, traditional Brazilian masculinities (as ‘gaucho’, ‘nordestino’ (northeastern Brazilian man), ‘mulherengo’ (womanizer), ‘cristão’ (Christian), ‘homem de família’ (family man), ‘homem de verdade’ (real man), ‘marido da casa’ (house husband), ‘provedor do lar’ (roughly breadwinner), etc), which are reproduced in several institutions and/or social (media) spaces (family, church, brothels, farms/ranches, telenovelas51, soccer matches, etc.). Third, heterosexual norms and values serve to produce ‘hierarchies of normalcy’ among Brazilian MSM in which married, presumably heterosexual men hold a position of privilege (as ‘real men’), followed by ‘discreet’ gay men, whereas ‘viados’ and ‘bichas loucas’ are 50
Most participants declared to earn the equivalent to the earnings of middleclass Brazilians, around 5 minimum wages or more, according to the criteria adopted by the IBGE (Source: http://blog.thiagorodrigo.com.br/index.php/faixas-salariais-classe-social-abep-ibge?blog=5. Retrieved on April, 15 th, 2016.) However, their performances of ‘symbolic capital’ - which includes level of education - and their memories of a childhood with lack of resources in small towns suggest their origins are working class. 51 Interestingly, one popular working-class TV show in Brazil, Casos de Família (Family Cases) explored the theme ‘Meu marido é muito sem-vergonha, apronta até com homem!’ (‘My husband is shameless, he fools around even with men!’), in which MSMs and their wives discuss male same-sex desire as part of a ‘man’s nature’ to enjoy having sex with anybody.
123 stereotypical, pathological, deviant forms of male homosexuality. Fourth, the recent emergence of online global ‘gay’ cultures (such as chatrooms, gay porn websites, webblogs, social networks) in Brazil around 2000, which has offered MSM ways to find anonymous sex with other men, has made sexuality a critical aspect in men’s lives (“I guess that I’m increasingly attracted to the masculine side” – Vinícius). While sexuality has been framed as a stable “quality or property of the self”, it also has become an unstable object which can be “reflexively grasped, interrogated and developed” (Giddens, 1992, p. 14). Sexuality therefore has become fluid - one can “become” or “discover oneself to be” gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, etc.52 – as a consequence of living in a world increasingly characterized by uncertainty and the transformation of traditions and social institutions.
Giddens, for instance, cites a case reported in The Kinsey Institute New Report on Sex, published in 1990: “a 65-year-old man whose wife died following a happy marriage lasting for forty-five years. Within a year of his wife's death, he fell in love with a man. According to his own testimony, he had never before been sexually attracted to a man or fantasised about homosexual acts. Such an individual now follows his altered sexual orientation quite openly, although he has had to face the problem of 'what to tell the children'” (1992, p. 14).
125 6. NEOLIBERAL PLEASURES: SAME-SEX DESIRE IN MEN’S DISCOURSES
Homonormativity as a key term asks us to think through the ways that sexuality structures relationships among individuals, groups, and the state. Tropes such as exclusion, erasure, pathology, recognition, or visibility point to shifting understandings of equality, freedom, and difference, and these refigured landscapes must be addressed in our activism and our scholarship. What kinds of sexual rights should we be fighting for? Is the goal a more inclusive private life or a public sexual culture that might be shared by all? (Weiss, 2008, p. 97)
This chapter explores how same-sex desire is constructed in men’s discourses and its relation to a contemporary neoliberal sexual politics. In section 6.1, I demonstrate how male same-sex desire is ‘reified’, turned into a ‘thing’ in men’s narratives. Next, in section 6.2, I focus on the ways homonormativity in their discourses reproduces a neoliberal agenda based on individual rights and sexual privacy. Finally, in section 6.3, I provide a summary of the main findings from the analysis.
6.1 UNSPEAKABLE DESIRES: REPRESENTATIONS OF MALE HOMOSEXUAL DESIRE In the interviews produced by the MSM, they not only constructed sexual subjectivities (as ways of being in the world) and narratives about events in their lives, but they also construct representations of sex, sexuality and desire. As Cameron and Kulick (2003, p. 26) note, when people make choices in language to identify the same group of people (such as homosexuals or gays), they also conceptualize same-sex desire in more or less positive or negative ways such as: a “deviance or sickness” or an “alternative personal or political
126 choice” or simply as “one ‘natural’ variant of human sexuality”. As expected, some of these representations featured in the men’s narratives analyzed in this study: Table 4 – Overview of the representations of same-sex desire in the narrative interviews Vinícius Fernando Lucas Marcelo Adriano
“the experiences I want to try out” “I am increasingly attracted to the masculine side” “I always had that curiosity” “because we have that inside of us” “I monitored myself a lot, but it always called my attention” “People are free to choose what they want for their lives” “To have love, [they] have to leave promiscuity behind” “We kinda go for curiosity” “I prefer people who are out of town” “What makes you happy is a good thing” “A man loving a man” “Having sex with men”
Table 4 shows small fragments of language that exemplify the ways participants conceived same-sex desire or the social actions associated with it in their discourses. Overall, none of the participants represented same-sex desire as deviance or sickness and some participants indeed constructed it either as a matter of personal ‘choice’ or a ‘natural’ manifestation of human sexuality. In Lucas’s interview, for instance, homosexual desire is represented as a conscious ‘choice’ made by adults in their private lives: (…) 1. P: Como é a tua relação com o teu filho e que idade ele tem? 2. L: Muito presente, ele tem seis anos. 3. P: E ele já fez alguma pergunta sobre essa questão? 4. L: Não ele falou para minha ex-mulher “Quando eu crescer eu quero ser como o papai”. Como assim? 5. Ela até levou um susto. O papai tem uma mulher que ama ele... Ele me vê muito com um amigo.
Daí a gente apresenta sempre como o amigo do papai, então a gente nem fala em namoro perto 7. dele, entendeu, ele ainda é criança. 8. P: Mas você pensa que um dia vai ter que conversar com ele? 9. L: Sim um dia eu vou ter de conversar, mas deixa rolar, até prefiro que ele descubra sozinho, até 10. minha ex-mulher falou que um dia ele vai descobrir sozinho, e vai vir me perguntar e eu já tenho a 11. resposta pra dar pra ele, já tenho a resposta pronta pra dar: “Filho, as pessoas são livres pra 12. escolherem o que querem para a vida delas entre quatro paredes”. (...) Translation 1. R: How is your relationship with your son and how old is he? 2. L: Very close, he is six. 3. R: Has he made any question regarding this issue [sexual orientation]? 4. L: No. [Once] he told my ex-wife “When I grow up, I wanna be like daddy”. [She said:] “How so?”. 5. She even got worried. [He said:] “Daddy has a wife that loves him”... He sees me a lot with a 6. friend. Then we introduced him as daddy’s friend so we never mention dating [a man] near him, 7. right? He’s still a child. 8. R: But do you think that someday you may have to talk to him [about being gay]? 9. L: Yes, one day I’ll have to talk to him, but [it’s better to] let it be. In fact, I prefer that he discovers it 10. by himself. Even my ex-wife told me that someday he’ll discover it by himself and will ask me 11. [about it]. I already have an answer to give to him, I already have a ready answer to give: “Son, 12. people are free to choose what they want for their lives inside four walls”. (…) Excerpt 13 – Lucas’s relationship with his son
In Excerpt 13, Lucas resorts to, or rather, implicitly reproduces a web of pseudo-scientific discourses in combination with religious
128 discourses on children development, gender identity and male homosexuality. Although he describes the relationship with his six yearold son as “very close”, he nevertheless keeps his ‘homosexual identity’ a secret during their interaction. The secret is also maintained by his exwife, who gets “worried” (reaction) when the boy shows a desire to identify with his (gay) father. Both attempt to prevent the boy ‘growing up gay’ by providing him a ‘normal’ masculine father figure, which will confer him masculinity. Under this logic, “a child” (represented as a class of social actors rather than a specific individual, line 7) is born with a “core gender identity”, which is naturally consolidated in adulthood, as part of the development of a (male-) self consistent with the biological sex (Sedgwick, 1991 p. 21). Interestingly, Lucas’s interview does not only reproduces discourses from ‘pop ego Psychology’, but also includes discourses of “gay lifestyle” and “ gender ideology” very popular among conservative, Christian sectors of the Brazilian population. For those sectors, homosexuality is conceived as a “lifestyle” adopted by people (“people are free to choose what they want”- line 12) who are able to change, to become heterosexuals if they so desire, with “God’s aid”. At the same, they also misconceive gender as a threatening ideology, or rather as a “propaganda” that distorts the normal development of children and disrupts families by confusing the ‘natural’ roles of men and women. In sum, Excerpt 13 shows that different discourses are at play in ordinary social interactions (as those between parents and children) which both reflect and reproduce the common goal of a large scope of social institutions (such as schools, psychology clinics, pedagogy courses, cathecism): their attempt to prevent the development of gay adults and, at the same time, to renaturalize gender roles in the Brazilian society. In addition to the representations of same-sex desire mentioned above, most participants (except Adriano) also tended to reify same-sex desire, constructing it as a ‘thing’ or as ‘process’ that can be objectively managed. In Fernando’s interview, for example, same-sex desire is portrayed both as a ‘core’ part of his identity and as a process based on ‘reason’ and ‘thinking’: (…) 1. P: Quando você começou a ter relações com homens, como isso te afetou?
129 2. F: Na verdade foi assim, a gente sempre traz aquela vontade… desde quando nasce. Eu sempre tive 3. aquela curiosidade (…) quando eu via um cara, me chamava a atenção ele inteiro. Eu lembro bem 4. da minha tia, ela tinha um namorado muito bonito e ele me chamava muito a atenção. Por quê? 5. Porque a gente tem aquilo dentro da gente. Mas eu sempre batalhei contra isso porque eu fui criado 6. com as minhas duas irmãs, não tinha pai. Então eu tive que me auto... é um processo que foi 7. comigo mesmo. Eu me policiava muito, mas sempre me chamava a atenção. Quando eu via revistas 8. com homens sem roupa, sem camisa me chamava muito a atenção... e a figura feminina nem tanto, 9. nunca na verdade. (...) Translation 1. R: When have you started having [sexual] relations with other men? 2. F: In fact, it was like... we always bring that will... since we’re born. I always had that curiosity... 3. when I saw a guy, all [his body] called my attention. I remeber my aunt very well, she had a very 4. handsome boyfriend and he called my attention very much. Why? Because we have that inside 5. ourselves. However, I always struggled against it because I was raised with my two sisters, I had 6. no father. So, I had to self-… it was a process by my own. I monitored myself a lot, but it always 7. called my attention. When I read magazines with men without clothes, without shirts, that called 8. my attention very much... and the female figure not that much, never actually. (…) Excerpt 14 – Fernando’s orientation of his ‘first date with a man’ narrative
In Excerpt 14, Fernando describes the context (orientation) in which his ‘first date’ with a man took place. When talking about his sexuality during childhood, he depicts it as a innate feature of his self drawing on popular biological discourses that explain homosexuality as the product of hormones or genes. However, same-sex desire is also
130 represented as “curiosity” (line 2), a process of thinking which involves a set of mental actions (to monitor, to struggle) that point out that performing gender (in this case, masculinity) is also a performance of desire that requires the ‘unperformability’ of homosexuality. Fernando’s narrative therefore exemplifies the prohibition of homosexual desire, which is proscribed since a subject is born and produces distancing from a set of “impossible” attachments and identifications (Butler, 1993, p. 236). Vinícius, in his turn, constructs same-sex desire as something one can “try out” (Excerpt 15): (…) 1. P: Então, me conta como foram as tuas experiências [sexuais] passadas com outros homens? Como 2. foram esses relacionamentos, como eles afetaram ou têm te afetado como homem? 3. V: Como homem, não mudou nada pra mim… só que eu descobri que eu poderia ser mais livre no que 4. eu tenho vontade de fazer e nas experiências que eu tenho vontade de experimentar… então… o 5. que mudou talvez, eu acho que eu to cada vez mais atirado para o lado masculino… é isso. 6. V: Como assim? O que você quer dizer com isso? 7. R: Quer dizer, pra mim… um homem bonito, eu acho um cara atraente. (...) Translation 1. R: So, tell me about your previous experiences with other men? How were those relationships? How 2. did they affect/ How have they affected you as a man? 3. V: As a man nothing has changed for me… I only discovered that I could be freer regarding what I 4. wanted to do and the experiences I wanted to try it out... so... what has changed, maybe I guess that 5. I’m incresingly attracted to the masculine side... that’s it. 6. R: How so? What do you mean by that? 7. V: I mean, to me... a handsome man, I think a guy is attractive. (…) Excerpt 15 – Vinícius’s stance on his sexual experiences with men
131 For Vinícius, same-sex desire is something that can be managed, controlled or ‘liberated’ by a sovereign subject who ‘chooses’ to become ‘free’ to ‘experiment’ with their sexuality. In his discourse, same-sex desire is entangled with control and represented abstractly in an ambiguous, opaque manner (“attracted to the masculine side” – line 5). By representing same-sex desire as a manageable object (which one experiments with) and not talking openly about it, he reproduces a regime of control of (homo)sexuality internalized by Brazilian men that defines which relations are legitimate and public and which relations are private and invisible. Like Fernando, Marcelo also associates same-sex desire to “curiosity” and represents it as a process that happens or appears on its own: (…) 1. P: Como foi isso? 2. M: A gente... meio que vai por curiosidade... Mas só não rolou assim... a relação completa, não. Só ... 3. sexo oral... 4. P: Uhum ... 5. M: Aí depois... eu acho que começou mais assim na Internet... por esses bate-papos... Porque... 6. particularmente, eu não frequento locais... eu nunca dei abertura pra ninguém... primeiro alguns 7. chegaram em festa querendo… vamos dizer assim... não foi uma cantada clara [Inaudível] e eu saí. 8. Eu acho que depois, com a Internet mesmo, foi que... como você não vê a pessoa e tudo, começou 9. a acontecer mais. Isso acontecia mais. (…) Translation 1. R: How was that? 2. M:We kinda go out of curiosity... though it didn’t happen like... complete intercourse, no. It was just... 3. oral sex. 4. R: Huhu ... 5. M: Then later... I guess that it started [to happen more frequently] like on the Internet... in [online]
132 6. 7. 8. 9.
chatrooms... Because... particularly, I don’t go to [gay] places... I never opened myself to anybody... first some [men] approached me at parties wanting it... let’s say like... it wasn’t a clear pickup line [inaudible] and I turned it down. I guess that later on, through the Internet, it was that... as you don’t see the person and the whole thing, it started to happen more. It happened more [times]. (…) Excerpt 16 – Marcelo’s first sexual encounter with a man
When talking about his first sexual encounter with a man (Excerpt 16), Marcelo does not deliver a rich portrayal of how it happened but chooses to focus on why it happened (evalution). In order to produce an effect of deagentialization that backgrounds his agency, Marcelo depicts his same-sex desire either as (1) something that emerged on its own, not as a result of his actions or personal ‘choices’ (“it started to happen”- line 9) or (2) a result of actions taken by other men upon him (“some [men] approached me wanting it” – line 7). In his narrative interview, Marcelo also describes a set of “rules” he follows when engaging in the social practice of ‘negotiating sexual encounters with other men’. (…) 1. P: Então como você faz para manter o sigilo? Como você faz para ter os encontros e manter o sigilo? 2. M: Assim... não acontece com regularidade... até mesmo lá, onde eu moro, eu prefiro pessoas que 3. sejam de fora... de passagem pela cidade, que ficam em um hotel...porque eu até vou em um motel 4. com mulher, mas não vou com homem. 5. P: Ahhh... entendi. 6. M: Nunca fui em um motel com homem... prefiro sempre quem tenha um local... de preferência de 7. fora... e que esteja só de passagem pela cidade.... Essas são as minhas regras assim para não ter 8. problemas... Acho que todo mundo tem umas regras assim que segue pra não ter problema.... essas
133 são as minhas regras... se a pessoa diz: “vamos a um motel” eu digo “não”... É, eu procuro seguir 10. essas regras... Então, Não é todo dia que vai...mesmo que eu entrasse em bate-papo todos os dias, 11. não é todo dia que você vai encontrar pessoas que vão aceitar essa minha regra. (...) Translation (…) 1. R: So what do you do to keep anonymity? How do you do to hook up with men and keep it 2. anonymous? 3. M: Well... it does not happen regularly... even there, where I live, I prefer people who are from out of 4. town ... visiting the city, that stay in a hotel... because I may go to a love motel with a woman, but 5. not with a man. 6. R: Oh, got it! 7. M: Never been to a love motel with a man... I always prefer someone who has his own place ... 8. preferrably out of town... and who is only visiting... These are my rules to avoid problems... I 9. guess everybody follows some rules to avoid problems... these are my rules... if a person says: 10. ‘let´s go to a love motel’, I say ‘no’... Yeah, I try to follow these rules... So, it’s not everyday... 11. even if I were online everyday, I won’t find everyday people who would abide by my rules. (…) 9.
Excerpt 17 – Marcelo’s negotiation of sexual encounters
In Excerpt 17, Marcelo recontextualizes the social practice of ‘cruising for sex’ in which (gay) men go to a physical locality in search for a casual sex partner. When cruising, MSM rely on a set of ‘signs’ (dress codes, body language, gaze, etc.) to select who they want to have sex with and how they want it 53. Also, they have no control over who 53
In his etnography of the gay clone subculture in NYC, Levine (1998, p. 79-92) describes four sequential stages in which (offline) cruising tipically unfolds: searching, stalking, signaling and negotiating.
134 they find in the crusing areas and the risk of ‘getting caught’ by police raids or being robbed or even murdered is sometimes very high 54. In contrast, cruising online (as described by Marcelo) is much safer and resembles a transaction – an exchange of goods and services – in which one defines a set of rules and required attributes to close a deal. In this case, “people” (other MSM) are valued not only in terms of physical attributes, but in terms of what they have (possessive attributes) and where they are from (circumstancial attributes). Marcelo’s discourse thus reflects a process of reification of desire in which male bodies (not only female ones) and desires are reduced to ‘things’ that can be obtained and acquire value by the (online) commercialization of sexuality. In contrast to the other four participants, Adriano views samesex desire on a positive light through the lens of a hegemonic ‘love wins” discourse’ 55: (...) 1. P: E na tua verdade... tem a verdade da escritura... tu sentes que é um vício, que é algo que te faz mal? 2. A: Olha só... A gente aprende que Deus criou o homem e a mulher, né? Todo mundo sabe isso... Cara, 3. eu cheguei em um ponto que eu não vejo como uma coisa ruim ser gay. 4. P: Por quê? 5. A: Porque me faz feliz. Eu acho que o que te faz feliz é uma coisa boa, não é? 6. P: Huhum .
Cruising also means “police officers on patrol” and gives name to a controversial 1980 film written and directed by Willian Friedkin. The film depicts a serial killer who ‘cruises’ for his victims at gays bars in West Village, NYC and becomes the main target of an undercover police officer (Al Pacino). The film’s production in 1979 was marked by protests by some members of New York's gay community who rallied against the implicit idea conveyed by the movie – the equation of homosexuality with criminal insanity. Source: http://www.villagevoice.com/film/gay-old-time-6419214. Retrieved on: March, 24 th, 2016. 55 On June, 26 th, 2015, Facebook, Google and other corporations celebrated the approval of same-sex marriage by the US Supreme Court. The celebration included a set of rainbowthemed apps and features (videos, Easter eggs, photo filters, etc.) available to users/consumers all over the world. 54
135 7. A: Se eu to com um homem... Você namora com o André, vocês se gostam... te faz bem, isso é ruim? 8. Não. O que vai fazer a gente se sentir mal é quando a gente faz uma coisa ruim para o próximo ou 9. alguém faz uma coisa ruim pra gente, mas gostar de um homem, amar um homem. Um homem 10. amar um homem não vai te fazer feliz? Faz sim. Eu não tenho mais isso na minha cabeça, 11. amadureci muito. Eu já falei pra Deus: “Deus, se um dia eu te conhecer, você vai ter que me aceitar 12. como eu sou. Eu sou assim, eu sou feliz assim e não quero mudar”. (...) Translation (…) 1. R: What about your truth... there is the scripture’s truth... do you feel that it [homosexuality] is a vice, something that makes harm to you? 2. A: Well... we learn that God has created man and woman, right? Everybody knows that... Man, I 3. came to the conclusion that I don’t see being gay as a bad thing. 4. R: Why? 5. A: Because it makes me happy. I think that what makes you happy is a good thing, isn’t? 6. R: Huhu . 7. A: If I am with a man... You date Andre, you like each other... it makes you feel good, is it bad? No. 8. What makes us feel bad is when we do any harm to a fellow or someone makes any harm to us, 9. but liking a man, loving a man... A man loving a man is not going to make you happy? It is. I don’t 10. think like that anymore, I’ve grown a lot. I already told God: “God, if I meet you someday, you 11. will have to accept me as I am. I am like this, I am happy this way and I don’t wanna change”. (…) Excerpt 18 – Adriano’s stance on homosexuality
136 While religious heteronormative discourses have played a central role in the formation of Adriano’s subjectivity (“We learn that God created man and woman, right?” – line 2, Excerpt 18), he surprisingly produces a positive view of homosexuality aligned with contemporary humanist discourses from hegemonic LGBTIQ activism that frame homosexuality as an expression of universal human love (“a man loving a man” – line 9). If homosexuality has become an expression of love, it is also linked with the pursuit of happpines (“A man loving a man is not going to make you happy?” – line 9), which sustains systems of productivity and consumption in neoliberal societies. In this sense, having the “right” to love and searching for “the right one” have been the cornerstones of a neoliberal politics in which lesbians and gays (not trans people) are accepted as long as their love is not socially damaging or perverse (e.g. monogamic, privatized, romanticized). 6. 2 “NO ONE HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH WHAT PEOPLE DO INSIDE FOUR WALLS”: THE CONSTRUCTION OF A NEOLIBERAL HOMONORMATIVITY IN MEN’S DISCOURSES When expressing their stances on sexual dissidence and citizenship, all research participants reproduced a neoliberal ideology which has been pervasive in late modernity. On the one hand, those who self-identified as “gays” (Adriano, Fernando and Lucas) produced discourses of homonormativity characterized by a depoliticized, privatized view of sexuality, the pursuit of marriage and a middleclass lifestyle. On the other hand, men who self-identified as “bisexuals” stressed social reproduction of heterosexual gender norms and individual responsibility. For instance, Fernando’s understanding of citizenship centers around the notion of “equal rights” based on payment of taxes, bonds of love and gay marriage: (…) 1. P: E a situação do Brasil agora? O que você gostaria que mudasse? Alguma coisa... em relação a 2. direitos?... 3. F: A direitos?... Olha...
137 4. P: Não to falando só dos gays, mas to falando do que se chama de “comunidade LGBT”... todos... 5. incluindo pessoas trans, travestis... 6. F: mulheres, etc.... 7. P: É... tudo... O que você acha que precisa mudar ainda? 8. F: Acho que precisa mudar muita coisa em relação a sociedade, a cabeça das pessoas. Levando para o 9. lado legislativo, etc... Eu acho que tem que... eu acho que os mesmos direitos que eu e você temos... 10. de constituir família, de pensão, de tudo. Porque o fato de eu ser gay, não faz eu pagar menos 11. imposto que você. Isso levando para o lado físico da coisa, né? Agora com relação à cabeça da 12. sociedade, com certeza! Acho que... né... é muito bonito... Ás vezes, tem os comentários assim “O 13. filho dela é gay, mora fora, estuda”... É bonito, né? [Mas] quando entra para a casa deles, é 14. diferente. Então, acho que tem que mudar muita coisa. Acho que é uma coisa que tem que se pensar 15. assim: “Vou ter um filho. Pai e a mãe vão ter um filho...Se vier gay, ele não é filho?”, entendeu?. A 16. sociedade não deveria separar. Acho que os direitos deveriam ser iguais... Tem muita coisa pra 17. mudar com certeza... Mas também não acho que sejam essas paradas que vai se buscar isso... O que 18. eles acham, né? As paradas gays pra buscar os direitos... não é isso... 19. P: O que seria? 20. F: Seria com um comportamento adequado. 21. P: Qual seria esse comportamento? 22. F: É porque assim ó... A sociedade vê o gay, e de certa forma... não sei se tem a ver ou não... como 23. libertinoso... não tem só um parceiro... todas essas coisas assim... E não deixa de ter sua razão... É 24. como a droga, né? Eu acho que a droga, se ela fosse legalizada, talvez fosse diferente o processo. 25. E a homossexualidade... eu acho se a sociedade aceitasse plenamente isso... casais, etc. Por
exemplo, eu e você temos um relacionamento aberto. Eles são gays, casados... levaríamos mais 27. sério a coisa... porque é uma coisa muito grande, parte da cabeça... Assim ó, o proibido é gostoso. 28. Enquanto é proibido, é gostoso. Antigamente é proibido, sei lá... É proibido homem ficar com 29. homem. Então é gostoso le//var para a casa escondido, né? É gostoso isso. A partir do momento que 30. todo mundo sabe o que acontece, já perde um pouco a graça, mas assim... Eu acho que... Se 31. existisse mais essa abertura, de um homem, do homossexual, etc. poder casar... ter toda essa coisa 32. assim, essa cumplicidade da sociedade, eu acho que não teria tanto essa vida devassa que o mundo 33. gay tem... porque teria a cumplicidade da sociedade que aceita. (...) Translation (…) 1. R: What about the situation of Brazil nowadays? What would like to change? Anything… concerning rights? 2. F: Rights?... Well… 3. R: I’m not referring only to gays, but also to what has been called “LGBT community”… 4. everybody… including trans people, transvestites… 5. F: Women, etc… 6. R: Yeah… all of them… What do you think still needs to be changed? 7. F: I guess that a lot of things needs to be changed concerning society, people’s minds. Looking at the 8. issue from a legal point of view.... I think that it has to... I think they should have the same rights 9. that you and me have... building a family, alimony, everything. Because the fact that I’m gay does 10. not make me pay less taxes than you. Taking this to the material aspects of the issue, right? 11. Concerning people’s minds, for sure! I guess that... it’s very nice... Sometimes there are some
139 comments like “Her son is gay, he lives abroad, studies”... Is it nice, isn’t? [But] when it’s in their 13. homes, it’s different. So, I think there is still a lot to change. I think it’s something that people 14. should think like: “I’m going to have a child. A father and a mother are going to have a child... If he 15. turns out to be gay, he’s not my child anymore?”, got it? Society shouldn’t separate [LGBT people 16. from straight people]. I think rights should be equal... There is a lot to change for sure... Though I 17. don’t think those [pride] marchs are the way to go about it... like they [activists] think, right? Pride 18. marchs to claim rights... it doesn’t work like that... 19. R: How does it work? 20. F: With an adequate behavior. 21. F: How would this adequate behavior be? 22. R: It’s because like... Society sees gay [men], somehow... I don’t know if it’s accurate or not... as 23. licentious... They don’t have only one [sexual] partner... all these things.... And it sounds 24. reasonable... It’s like a drug, right? I think that if drugs were legalized, maybe the process would 25. be different. About homosexuality... I guess that if society could totally accept it... couples, etc. For 26. example, you and I have an open relationship. They’re gay, married... we’d take it more seriously... 27. because it’s a big thing, it’s in the mind... listen, what’s forbidden is hot. While it’s forbidden, it’s 28. hot. In the past, it was forbidden, maybe... It was forbidden for a man to make out with another 29. man. So it’s hot to take someone home secretely, right? This is hot. When everybody knows 30. what’s going on, it gets a little bit boring, but like... I think that... If there were more openess 31. concerning a man, a homosexual, etc. getting married... having all this, the complicity of society, I 32. think we would no longer have this promiscuous lifestyle of the gay world ... because there would 12.
be the complicity of a society that accepts it. (...) Excerpt 19 – Fernando stance on Brazil’s LGBT rights
Fernando’s construction of a sexual citizenship in discourse is homonormative because “same rights” (line 8) refers to a specific relation of privilege between certain individuals and the State. While gay men, lesbian women, trans people and heterosexual men and women are equally required to pay taxes to support the state, tax burden and the distribution of social benefits is unequal in the Brazilian society. According to Santos (2009), a recent study by the Brazilian Institute of Applied Economy Research (IPEA) demonstrated that the tax burden paid by the poorest sectors of the Brazilian population is higher (32,8%) than that paid by the richest (22,7%), regarding income. In addition, married couples are granted a set of benefits (such as tax breaks) which are not available to single individuals. In this context, married, uppermiddle class (white) gay men and lesbian women constitute the main beneficiaries of a politics of social distribution based on “rights”, which does not include (black) poor, single, “queers” and trans. In his discourse, Fernando also criticizes the politics of gay ‘tolerance’ in the Brazilian society which is also tied to social class (and is arguably homonormative): ‘good gays’ are able to live abroad or get college education away from their hometowns, building a separate ‘homosexual life’ in large cities that ‘protects’ their familes from ‘gay shaming’. In this sense, Fernando constructs a view of citizenship based on “bonds of love” that stresses the private (the family) as the necessary site for claiming “rights”, which, on the downside, excludes ways of living and caring for one another that do not fit the model of nuclear family (Bell & Binnie, 2000, p. 5). In Fernando’s discourse, sexuality is not a mode of citizenship and pride marchs are not seen as political moves for claiming rights (“I don’t think those [pride] marchs are the way to go” – lines 16-17), despite their historical significance for many LGBTIQ populations around the world. For this reason, he differentiates his self from ‘others’ (“like they think, right?” – line 17), which refers to gay (or queer) activists. Thus, Fernando takes a conservative, assimilationist position towards ‘gay equality’ similarly to Lucas (see Chapter 5, section 5.2, p. 116-118), which includes assuming an “adequate behavior” and accepting same-sex marriage as a ‘legitimate’ mode of living (and acquiring citizenship).
141 Marcelo, on his turn, reproduces a neoliberal ideology by emphasizing discourses of individual responsibility and domestic privacy: (…) 1. P: Agora, para terminar... focando em ti. O que você gostaria, o tu acha que no Brasil tem problemas 2. ainda... com relação a questões sexuais no Brasil... o que deveria mudar, o que está errado... falando 3. em relação a ti. O que você acha que no Brasil ainda não está bom... o que está acontecendo no 4. Brasil? 5. M: Eu acho que é só isso... tá havendo um controle de mídia. Eu me lembro que... há uns dez anos 6. talvez... eu me lembro que... fiquei muito assustado... a primeira vez que eu vi numa festa... um 7. beijo entre dois homens... que não era uma festa GLS... Aí depois disso, não... Então acho que 8. ganharam... até por conta da mídia... nesse lado a mídia ajudou... Ganharam mais esse 9. entendimento social de que cada um tem o direito de fazer tudo aquilo que quer, de se sentir feliz e 10. tudo. Acho que só precisa ter cuidado. É que nem a questão da liberação da mulher... a liberação 11. sexual da mulher... a mulher meio que presa e aí teve a liberação sexual, daí virou galinha demais e 12. tal [risos] [inaudível]. Então talvez seja esse aspecto aí que precise... Sempre o meio termo, acho 13. que nada que é demais...nem de menos, nem demais, é o meio termo, entendeu? 14. P: Entendi ... 15. M: Hoje a sociedade já entende como... normal mesmo, né? Exceto algumas exceções que existem... 16. os religiosos e tal... Eu acho que... a mídia ajuda muito, a Internet, essas coisas... a comunicação 17. como um todo... ajudam muito nesse sentido... Só não pode ser demais. Tem que ter cuidado pra 18. não...
142 19. P: Obrigado! Translation (…) 1. R: Now, to finish [the interview]... focusing on you. What would you like, what do you still consider 2. as problems... concerning sexual issues in Brazil... what should change, what is wrong... from your 3. viewpoint? What do you think is not good... [regarding] what’s going on in Brazil? 4. M: I guess the only thing... there is a control of the media. I remeber that... ten years ago maybe... I 5. remember that... I was really scared... The first time I saw it at a party... a kiss between two men... 6. which was not a LGBT party... Then after that, no... So I think they conquered... because of the 7. media... in this sense the media helped.... [they] conquered a social understanding that everyone 8. has the right to do what they want, to be happy and everything. I just think one needs to be careful. 9. It’s like the women’s liberation issue... women’s sexual liberation... women were kinda repressed 10. and then there was the sexual liberation, then they became sluts [inaudible]. So 11. maybe this aspect needs to... always [finding] a middle ground, I think nothing is too much... not 12. too little, neither too much, it’s a middle ground, got it? 13. R: I see ... 14. M: Nowadays society already understands it as... normal, right? Despite some exceptions that still 15. exist... religious people, etc... I think that... the media helps a lot, the Internet, this stuff... 16. communication as a whole... help a lot in the process... though it cannot be too much. We must be 17. careful not to... 18. R: Thank you! Excerpt 20 – Marcelo’s stance on Brazil’s LGBT rights (and Feminism)
143 In Excerpt 20, Marcelo provides an objectivation of ‘gay kissing on TV’ as a social action: he construes it statically, as if it were an entity or quality (van Leeuwen, 2008, p. 63). In this representation, the nominalization classifies negatively the social action (“control of the media” – line 4). In other words, ‘gay kissing on TV’ (as part of a movement of LGBTIQ visibity) is constructed as a social action that denies “freedom” of media representation as if sexual dissidence had become a kind of “norm” in Brazil. His representation is framed in the context of a neoliberal discourse that stresses ‘freedom’, ‘happiness’ (“[they] conquered a social understanding that everyone has the right to do what one wants, of being happy and everything” – lines 7-8) and ‘normalcy’ (“Nowadays society already understands it as... normal, right?” – line 14) as universal rights. However, under neoliberalism, individual freedom is also linked to ‘individual responsibility’ – one’s ability to become a ‘good citizen’ who respects social norms. In this case, gays and lesbians need to be responsible (“I just think one needs to be careful” – line 8) by conforming to gender and sexual norms based on domestic privacy. In Marcelo’s discourse, this logic of individual responsibility is also applied to women who become “sluts” (line 8), which reproduces a common-sense sexist view that sexual violence against women is ‘a direct consequence of their individual choices’, which means not being “careful”.
6.3 SUMMARY The analysis of discourse reported in this chapter explored the ways MSM construct same-sex desire in discourse and its relation to a neoliberal ideology. The analysis pointed out that when men talk about same-sex desire they tend to assume they are ‘knowing subjects’ whose lives are governed by conscious choices, wariness and exercise of control. For these men, language in the shape of competing discourses offers meanings and forms of subjectivity that they assume as true and coherent. In this sense, the analysis highlights the centrality of language for a hegemonic performance of desire that requires the normalization, manageament, or rather, invisibility of same-sex desire. In those men’s lives, the management of same-sex desire is enabled primarily by the Internet and its newer, quicker ways of
144 ‘connecting’ people: social networking apps, chat rooms, videochats, etc., have allowed the emergence and spread of LGBTIQ-oriented webblogs, Youtube™ channels and Facebook™ pages (which can cater to wider audiences and gives visibility to LGBTIQ issues), and have also provided quicker, safer ways to keep same-sex relations invisible, apparently disentangled from the social, which remains predominantly associated to heterosexuality. In contrast to Seidman’s (2009) study (see Chapter 1, section 1.3), which suggests that American gay men and lesbian women are able to live successfully “beyond the closet”, the participant’s discourses in this study indicate that the “gay closet” still is a defining social structure in the Brazilian society. The closet, thus, is a set of ‘regulations’ and implicit ‘guidelines’ that define a binary logic in which public spaces are the domain of heterosexuality while same-sex relations belong to private spaces. This binary logic is linked to a neoliberal ideology characterized by discourses of freedom for all and individual responsibility that serve the reproduction of relations of power that involve social stigma, violence and economic inequality. In these relations, some men occupy varying positions of privilege in relation to a host of ‘others’. In the Brazilian society these others include women (as mothers and wives who provide unpaid domestic labor), “bichas loucas” (who are constructed as deviant, pathological forms of sexual identity), “travecos” (‘trannies’, who are excluded from the job market and are denied several rights from the state) and openly (single) gay men (who do not perform a homonormative identity).
146 7. RETHINKING SUBJECTIVITY AND RESISTANCE: CONTRIBUTIONS, LIMITATIONS, IMPLICATIONS AND SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH
A subject only remains a subject through a reiteration or rearticulation of itself as a subject, and this dependency of the subject on repetition for coherence may constitute that’s subject incoherence, its incomplete character. This repetition, or better, iterability thus become the non-place of subversion, the possibility of a re-embodying of the subjectivating norm that can redirect its normativity. (Judith Butler, The Psychic Power of Life)
This brief chapter is divided into three sections. In Section 7.1, I sketch out the main conclusions and contributions of the study. In Section 7.2, I point out some limitations of the study and, finally, in Section 7.3, I discuss its implications and provide suggestions for further research.
7.1 CONTRIBUTIONS This research has contributed to a recent field in Applied Linguistics, the study of identity within discourse (Preece, 2016), which combines theorizations on the self and the role of language in both social interaction and sociocultural processes. Specifically, this research contributes to a better understanding of the ways people use language to produce effects of identity, that is, how they produce coherent selves and lived experiences. It aimed to provide answers to the following research questions: (1) How do Brazilian MSM represent themselves as male social actors and their own actions in personal narratives?; (2) How do they recontextualize certain social practices related to sexuality (such as coming out, dating) in their life narratives?; (3) In which ways do they negotiate conflicting discourses and identities in storytelling?
147 This research showed that it is through discourse (in combination with other non-discursive elements) that the men interviewed attempted to present themselves as normal males. As discussed in Chapter 5, a way to construct a normal male identity is to produce either (1) narratives of heteromasculinity in which they perform hegemonic ideals of masculinity of the Brazilian culture - as ‘husbands’, ‘fathers’, ‘machos’ (penetrators), ‘womanizers’ - opposed to the identity of the ‘the homosexual’ or (2) narratives of homomasculinity in which ‘normal’, ‘discreet’, ‘straight-acting’ gay identities are constrasted with the pathological, abject figures of ‘viado’ and ‘bicha louca’. By producing both hierarchies of normalcy which are complicit with dominant forms of masculinity and ‘heterosexualized’ recontextualizations of certain social practices, each men thus attempted to distance themselves from subordinated or marginalized forms of identity. This research, thus, suggests that MSM can be simultaneously complicit, subordinated and marginalized. For instance, a lower-middle class, married MSM is complicit when he reproduces unequal gender relations with his wife and, at the same time, he is marginalized because of his class position and/or race. In contrast, an openly gay man is complicit when he reproduces heteronormative gendered/sexual scripts in his relationships or depreciates men who perform femininity 56 , he is 56
Regarding this issue, I would like to make clear that it is not my intention to demand gay men to ‘desire’ effeminate men, as I believe in experiencing desire freely. However, if we look at desire as a product of the social and constructed through language, it becomes evident that a gendered desire has been reproduced through a myriad of (multimodal) texts in different media in Western societies. As a child from the 80’s, I have been exposed to very rigid, stereotypical gender performances in media culture, which have had a profound impact on the ongoing formation of my ‘selfhood’. This is the main argument of Douglas Kellner (1995) in his analysis of several media products (films, sitcoms, etc.) sold by the U.S. to mass audiences throughout the world. One of my favorite animated TV series during my childhood was Masters of the Universe, which featured He-Man as the principal character. He-Man is the alter-ego of Prince Adam. He is a powerful warrior who defends Eternia world and Greyskull Castle from the evil forces of Skeletor, showing off a hypermasculine persona with his muscular body, super-human strength and great courage. In contrast, Prince Adam is the spoiled, wimpy heir of the Eternian court, always wearing shades of pink and lilac. As for many boys at that time, He-Man became an important role model of masculine identification for me, teaching me ‘how men should be or become’ and consequently influencing the formation of my own masculinity. Nowadays, despite the ongoing transformation of my subjectivity, I should concede that this mythic figure is still constitutive of my own
148 subordinated for being openly homosexual and he can be also marginalized due to his class position and/or race. As I showed in Chapter 6, performances of either homomasculinity or heteromasculinity also require a reification of samesex desire. In this sense same-sex desire becomes a ‘thing’ that needs to be controlled and managed rationally. This research has contributed therefore to make even more explicit the regime of control of desire in Brazil, which reflects both the pervasiveness of the closet as a social structure and a politics of tolerance in which same-sex relations are rendered invisibile and unspoken. As a social structure, the research has also demonstrated that the closet is reproduced by neoliberal discourses of universal freedom and individual responsibility, which are used to legitimate the participants’ worldviews. Thus, this research asks us to rethink the way subjectivity can remain a place of resistance in face of an increasing homonormativity and subjects’ “passionate pursuit of the reprimanding recognition of the state” (Butler, 1997, p. 129). For Butler, drawing on Agamben, “being” should be read as a “potentiality”, an endless process of becoming (1997, p. 131). The reiteration of a subjects’ acts is what produces subjectivity and this dependency on repetition is revealing of the incoherence and fragmentation of one’s ‘identity’ (see the quotation in the first page of this chapter). Although I agree with Butler and have been aware of my own potentiality as a “subject”, I still ask myself how could individual desubjectivation bring social change in Brazil? Or rather, I ask myself how could discourse, as “a hindrance, a stumbling point of resistance and a starting point for an opposing strategy” (Foucault, 1978b, p. 1001), transform relations of power and coercion that have for so long oppressed poor, black, trans, genderqueer persons in Brazil?
(homosexual) desire either as a masculinity I would like to emulate (given its social prestige) or a masculinity that I desire sexually. He-Man’s masculinity is still hegemonic, especially in gay erotica and the bodybuilding industry, and as such is an ideal pursued by millions of men around the world. It is an object of consumer culture. Fortunately, the hegemony of this form of masculinity has been contested by the increasing visibility of genderqueer performances in many parts of the world. I am hopeful those performances can bring positive changes to media culture, providing children with other non-binary models of gender identification in a near future and, consequently, creating a world in which femininity in men’s bodies will no longer be socially stigmatized, rendered negative and abject.
149 While assuming that discourse partly constructs social practices and that power is a productive force that is “everywhere”, attaining social justice for queer people in Brazil must entail a severe critique of heteronormativity (and racism as well) across social institutions (schools, hospitals, government, state, media, the workplace, etc.) (Duggan, 1994) which depends on economic justice brought by social welfare programs. In Brazil, the fight against LGBTIQ hate crimes was intensified during the rise of the Worker’s Party (PT) with the launch of the pioneer program Brasil sem Homofobia (Brazil without Homophobia) in 2004 by former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, which initiated a new cycle of LGBTIQ politics in the country. Although former president Lula’s politics towards the LGBTIQ population has not been successfully continued by current president Mrs. Rousseff (Aragusuku & Lopes, 2015), it is evident that his government brought several advances to the country that helped empower low-middle class LGBTIQ people (including myself). Although (black) LGBTIQs from ‘favelas’ (slums) are still fighting for survival and do not benefit from the rights conquered by upper-middle Brazilian gays and lesbians (such as the right to get married), they arguably constitute the main source of resistance 57 to homonormativity and have already started queering the institutions 58.
Here I fully agree with Butler’s reading of Foucault that one possibility of resistance or subversion appears “in the course of subjectivation that exceeds the normalizing aims by which it is mobilized” (1997, p. 93). 58 “University of Ceará hires the first ‘travesti’ professor in the country”. Source: http://g1.globo.com/ceara/noticia/2013/12/universidade-do-ceara-da-posse-1-professoratravesti-doutora-do-pais.html. Gilmara Mendes, the first trans woman to be awarded a Tiradentes Medal in Rio de Janeiro for her community services. Source: http://www.bbc.com/portuguese/noticias/2015/11/151101_transexual_jp. “The number of travestis and trans people enrolled in ENEM (National High School Exam) almost triplicates”. Source: http://ultimosegundo.ig.com.br/educacao/2015-10-06/numero-de-travestis-etransexuais-inscritos-no-enem-quase-triplica.html. “IBGE: In 10 years, the number of black people in universities triplicated”. Source: http://noticias.terra.com.br/educacao/ibge-em-10anos-triplica-percentual-de-negros-nauniversidade,4318febb0345b310VgnCLD200000bbcceb0aRCRD.html. Retrieved on: April, 21st, 2016. 57
150 7.2 LIMITATIONS Unfortunately one limitation in this study is that it does not feature ‘voices or discourses of resistance’ which would construct ‘other’ ways of being and acting in the world, for instance, the voices of Brazilian genderqueers, transmen and gay men from ‘favelas’. Other limitations concern the analysis of the material conditions in which discourses are produced, as my access to the participants' ‘actual’ lives was only possible through discourse; the absense of the voices and stories of other people who participate somehow in the lives of the men interviewed, such as parents, wives, children, close relatives or peers at work, because MSM’s sexualities still remain an ‘open secret’; the analysis of the researcher’s own discourse and the dynamics of power in the interaction, which resembled a form of ‘confession’; the analysis and discussion of the ways race intersects with masculinity, social class and sexual identity. Another limitation in this study is that the findings cannot be applied to the general population of MSM, which is very heterogeneous and includes a range of sexualities and performances. Although it lacks generalizibility, which was not my goal from the outset, the research nevertheless offers a rich understanding of an aspect of human experience (the interface masculinity/same-sex desire) through an intensive critical analysis of discourses and contributes to the area of narrative analysis by exploring narrative interviewing as a mode of identity construction. Morever, the study may prove to have “analytic generalization” (Polit & Beck, 2010), which suggests that some theories and themes identified in the course of the analysis and discussion (e.g. the use of neoliberal discourses to justify homonormativity and naturalize heternormativity) have wider applicability.
7.3 IMPLICATIONS RESEARCH
The study brings implications to several areas beyond Applied Linguistics. It challenges, for instance, theories of personality development in Psychology by showing that the development of a gradual “core” sexual identity is non-linear, complex and fragmented.
151 The research also invites researchers from the Health Sciences, especially those working on HIV prevention, to forge new ways to reach MSM married to women, who make themselves ‘invisible’ through narrative performances of heteromasculinity. Moreover, another implication is that homonormativity may help reproduce the exclusion of some gay men from healthcare services because they do not present themselves as “institutionally recognizable types of subjects in the microdetails of their daily interactions” (Borba, 2014), in this case, as “normal”, “straight-acting”, “discreet” gay men. Furthermore, the research has clear implications for political and economic sciences because it stresses that power in general (symbolic or material) is in the hands of those men who are able to construct themselves as recognizable subjects by the state, the institutions and the workplace, which are highly gendered and heteronormative social spaces. Considering all the issues above and the fact that no study is exhaustive, I end this dissertation with a suggestion for further research and additional research questions. One suggestion is to carry out a longterm ethnographic study with one MSM drawing from several sources of data (family pictures, social network profiles, interviews, weblogs, etc.). Such a study could reveal, for instance, the gaps, fissures and discontinuities in the performance of heteromasculinity. Another suggestion is to investigate how openly gay men in the military negotiate their identities in a context characterized by strict gender norms and a process of ‘silencing’ male homosexuality. Other research questions for the study of masculinities, same-sex desire and discourse would include: In which ways do teachers and the school staff normalize gay or ‘sissy’ boys at school? Which identities are constructed in the interactions between male health professionals and gay or trans men? In which ways do masculinity, same-sex desire and race intersect in the performances of black MSM? These questions, among many others, would certainly inform researchers in their task to understand the ways masculinity and desire are performed in different contexts as a way to produce effects of identity that ultimately renaturalize gender and legitimate heterosexuality as the preferable mode of being.
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166 APPENDICES APPENDIX 1 – Term of agreement
168 APPENDIX 2 – Receipt of project submission
169 APPENDIX 3 – Stages of evaluation of the project
170 APPENDIX 4 – Socioeconomic questionnaire
QUESTIONÁRIO PERFIL SOCIOECONÔMICO Dados Pessoais: Idade:_____________________________________________________ Cidade natal:_______________________________________________ Cor/etnia:__________________________________________________ Estado Civil: ( ) Solteiro ( ) Namoro sério/noivado ( ) Casado ( ) União estável Nível de escolaridade: ( ) Ensino Básico ( ) Ensino Médio ( ) Ensino Superior ( ) Ensino Técnico ou Profissionalizante ( ) Pós-Graduação – Mestrado ( ) Pós-Graduação – Doutorado ( ) Pós-Doutorado Você ainda estuda? ( ) Sim ( ) Não O que você está cursando? ( ) EJA ( ) Universitário ( ) Ensino Técnico ( ) Pós-Graduação Qual é a sua situação econômica? ( ) Não trabalho, meus gastos são custeados. ( ) Trabalho, mas ainda recebo ajuda financeira de minha família. ( ) Trabalho e sou independente financeiramente. ( ) Trabalho e sou responsável pelo sustento da família. Profissão:_________________________________________________ Carga horária semanal de trabalho:___________________________ Renda mensal: ( ) até um salário mínimo ( ) de 1 a 2 salários mínimos ( ) de 2 a 4 salários mínimos ( ) de 4 a 6 salários mínimos ( ) de 6 a 12 salários mínimos ( ) de 12 a 21 salários mínimos ( ) acima de 21 salários mínimos
171 Você possui carro? ( ) Sim ( ) Não ( ) Uso o carro dos meus pais/ familares Onde e como você mora atualmente? ( ) Em casa ou apartamento próprio ( ) Em casa ou apartamento alugado, sozinho. ( ) Em quarto ou cômodo alugado. ( ) Em casa de outros familiares ( ) Em casa de amigos, não pago aluguel. ( ) Em habitação coletiva: hotel, hospedaria, quartel, pensionato, república, etc. Outra situação, qual?_________________________________________ __________________________________________________________ Você tem filhos? _______ Quantos?________ Quem mora com você? ( ) Moro sozinho ( ) Com pai ( ) Com mãe ( ) Esposa/Companheira ( ) Esposo/Companheiro ( ) Filhos ( ) Irmãos ( ) Outros familiares ( ) Com amigos ou colegas Você paga pensão alimentícia para filhos e/ou ex-cônjuge? ( ) Não ( ) Sim Qual a situação conjugal dos seus pais ou familiares: ( ) Casado(a) ( ) Divorciado(a) ( ) Viúvo(a)
172 APPENDIX 5 – Transcription conventions
TRANSCRIPTION CONVENTIONS Adapted from: Milani, T. M. (2016). “Straight-acting: discursive negotiations of a homomasculine identity”. In. S. Preece (Ed.). The Routledge handbook of language and identity (pp. 443-457). London: Taylor & Francis.
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Por estes dados, apenas 411 de 5507 municípios brasileiros em 2000 deveriam ser considerados urbanos. Outra distorção é que se eleva a condição de —espaço urbano“ qualquer sede municipal (p.65). Afirma que muitos municípios brasileiros não poderiam e
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Mar 1, 2005 - Esta dissertação de Maura Bernardon, intitulada Women in business contexts represented in the magazines Secretária Executiva and Mulher Executiva: a lexicogrammatical and visual analysis, foi julgada adequada e aprovada em sua forma fin
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