Despite its permissive reputation and the wild, cross-dressing costumes seen at its street carnivals, Brazil is an increasingly dangerous country for LGBT people. According to the non-profit Bahia Gay Group 343 LGBT people were killed in 2016, compared to 260 in 2010.
Against this backdrop of prejudice, however, the country’s latest pop sensation is an openly-gay drag queen in a flowing platinum wig whose glossy pop videos have been watched hundreds of millions of times.
Pabllo Vittar, 22, has 4.9 million followers on her Instagram, enjoys the patronage of Anitta, one of Brazil’s most famous singers, and recently starred on the cover of celebrity magazine Contigo with the headline: “Who is this phenomenon?”
Besides her commercial success, Vittar has also become a symbol of resistance for those Brazilians dismayed by the rising influence of a self-appointed moral minority who have won a string of recent victories in the country’s culture wars.
“People have really embraced my ideas, my work, my engagement,” said Vittar in an interview at Rio de Janeiro’s YouTube studios, before the launch of her latest single, Corpo Sensual – Sexy Body.
Dressed in skin-tight trousers and outsized fake eyelashes, Vittar said many fans share their problems with her. “They tell me a lot about their daily struggle to go out on the street being gay, being drag,” she said. “I want to give them strength so they can continue being who they are.”
She told Fantastico, a primetime TV show: “I like to be a girl, I like to be a boy.”
Such plain speaking has helped push Vittar onto the front lines of a string of skirmishes with Brazil’s new right, a loose alliance of free market advocates, those angry over political corruption, and the growing number of evangelical Christians. Read more via the Guardian