For the past two weeks Brazilian citizens have been outraged by the choice of politician Marco Feliciano to preside over the Commision of Human Rights and Minorities in the Chamber of Deputies in Brazil. Marco Feliciano is known for his homophobic, racist, and misogynist views, and his presence in such an important position threatens all Brazilians who would like our country to grow in equal rights. Since then, protests demanding his renunciation have spread in different cities across Brazil and outside the country.
If Brazilian politics has space for opposing voices in the human rights battle, so does Brazilian music. There have been several Brazilian songs that reflect homophobia and racism and there is also plenty of Brazilian music expressing a very open and inclusive perspective on sexual diversity.
Take a look at the songs below. I selected some that celebrate sexual diversity, and that cast away homophobia and the fear of differences.
Masculino e Feminino – Pepeu Gomes
The singer and guitarist Pepeu Gomes was never afraid of showing his true colours. He used to perform wearing make-up, colourful clothes and hair. His beauty and his message questioned the rigid boundaries between genders. This beautiful pop song depicts the idea of a God who is both masculine and feminine. In the lyrics, Pepeu identifies with both genders and places himself in favour of joy, purity, and fantasy. The song became a hit amongst the youth of Brazil in the 80s.
A Namorada – Carlinhos Brown
1997 introduced the tune A Namorada (The Girlfriend) by Carlinhos Brown, which made people dance lulled by the story of a young girl from a conservative family who dates other females. The lyrics humorously speak of males enchanted by her beauty and completely oblivious to the fact that she already has a girlfriend.
Obrigado Não – Rita Lee
Also in 1997, the rocker Rita Lee released the video of the song Obrigado Não (Not for Obligaton). This was the first time Brazilian TV aired a kiss between two men. The lyrics intelligently question and invite us to reflect on a series of important themes, such as abortion, obligatory vote, obligatory military service, and gay marriage: “Pregnancy versus abortion/ Who wants to be born in a dead sea? Who wants to die before the conception?”, “Legalize what is not crime/ Reprehend the lack of manners”, “Why whisky? Why not cannabis?”, “ Serving the army: only if it is for the army of salvation”.
Ele me Deu um Beijo na Boca – Caetano Veloso
In 1982, Caetano Veloso released the album Cores & Nomes whose cover back showed Caetano kissing another man on the mouth. The album includes the Ele me Deu um Beijo na Boca ( He Kissed Me On the Mouth). In the lyrics, the same-sex kiss is a catalyst for a philosophical discussion. The kiss is depicted as a natural event and almost unimportant compared to the discussion that follows.
Meninos e Meninas – Legião Urbana
Legião Urbana, one of the most successful Brazilian rock bands, had the singer Renato Russo as its central figure. Amongst its many hits, Meninos e Meninas (Boys and Girls) is the only song in which the singer makes explicit his sexual orientation. The lyrics talk about preferences: “ I like San Francisco and San Sebastian/ And I like boys and girls”, and also mentions disillusionment: “ I gave you food, I watched over you/ I have been your friend, I took you with me/ And so tell me: What’s left for me?”
Não estou bem certa – Marina Lima
This a Brazilian Portuguese version of Sign your name (Terence Trent Darby) written by Marina Lima. The lyrics speak of someone who is freely questioning her desire: “I’m wondering if you are the lady who completes me? I’m wondering if you are the man who awakens me?” Subtle, groovy, and elegant is this version by Marina.
Tola foi Você – Angela Ro Ro
Angela Ro Ro has always expressed her authenticity and sexuality without modesty. A talented composer, she has been involved in many scandals that never shadowed the beauty of her music. In the song Tola foi Você (Fool You Were) she warns: “Fool you were, for abandoning me/ Dismissing so much love I had to offer / Now listen, evil goes and comes/ Wait for it” The song was released in her first album Angela Ro Ro (1979) and became a classic of her repertoire.
Dá um Close Nela – Erasmo Carlos
In the 80s, the transsexual Roberta Close became a sex symbol. Extremely popular in the 80s, she posed naked for Playboy magazine before and after her sex change. Her beauty attracted many secret fans and others who did not hide their predilection for her. The singer Erasmo Carlos got trapped on the web of seduction and composed this song Dá um Close Nela ( Zoom her In). The lyrics highlight her ‘tricky’ beauty.
Esse Mundo – Vange Leonel
Lesbian out of the closet singer, Vange Leonel, composed this song Esse Mundo (This World) for her first solo album in 1991. Even though the biggest hit of the album was a different song, Noite Preta, Esse Mundo stillreached a large audience. The optimist lyrics invite us to free ourselves from fears and hurts, and to be in the world in a way that is liberating and light: “Welcome! Welcome here! The train is about to depart! Forget your hurt and everything that is no more useful!”. Inevitably the song became a hit for the LGBT community.
Pai e Mãe – Gilberto Gil
This delicate song Pai e Mãe (Father and Mother) by Gilberto Gil was released in the famous album Refazenda. The lyrics are a request asking his father not to get upset when seeing his homoaffective physical expressions: “ Tell him not to get upset with me when he sees me kissing another man / Tell him that when I kiss a friend / I am sure he is someone like him / Someone with the strength to protect me / Someone with affection to comfort me / Someone with very open eyes and heart to understand me”. This is indeed one more of Gilberto Gil’s masterpieces!
These beautiful songs highlight sexual diversity and the free expression of differences. Do you have any additional music for this list?