Brazil: The Unflinching Courage of Rio’s Gay Crusader

David Michael dos Santos Miranda arrives at his house in a leafy section of Rio de Janeiro 20 minutes late, apologizing as he jumps out of the back seat of a bulletproof sedan. He has been watching Joao —one of the boys he adopted with his husband, Glenn Greenwald, last year —play soccer. The family rented the bulletproof car because Miranda is an openly gay city council member and a vehement critic of the city’s right-wing mayor, Marcello Crivella. In March, Rio’s other openly gay city council member, Marielle Franco, was shot dead by a trained assassin.

“There’s a suspicion it came from inside the council,” Miranda says of the order to kill Marielle.  (The crime is still being investigated.) “They could have pretended it was a mugging,” he adds, “but they didn’t bother.  They wanted to send a message.” The assassination set off shock waves in Rio and beyond — nowhere more so than in the house Miranda shares with Greenwald, their sons, Joao, 10, and Jonathan, 8, and the family’s 24 dogs, all rescued.

Now Greenwald, 51, and Miranda, 33, who met on an Ipanema beach 13 years ago, don’t go out without “Justice for Marielle” stickers pasted over their hearts. And sometimes they don’t go out at all. On May Day, Miranda decided to skip a rally in Rio’s Campo Grande neighborhood because, as he texted this reporter, it “is too dangerous for me.” But he isn’t exactly hiding. That night, he announced on Facebook that he will run for Brazil’s Congress on the ticket of the Socialist Liberation Party (Partido Socialista Liberdade or PSOL). 

Anticipating the October election, he wrote, “Fighting for justice is necessary, an obligation — even if it is always risky and dangerous to confront corrupt and powerful factions.”

“There’s a lot of fights I can have in Brasilia,” says Miranda, optimistically. He names the passage of LGBT-specific hate crime laws as one of his goals. But holding national office could also make him more of a target for right-wing extremists. He used to worry about his husband’s safety (working with Edward Snowden, Miranda says, put Greenwald on “a collision course with the interests of the world's greatest power”); now Greenwald worries about his. “Our lives are intense in every aspect,” Miranda concedes as the dogs bark and the children clamor for his time. Whether being married to a world-famous journalist protects him remains to be seen. Read more via OUT