For coming out of the closets: HIV and AIDS and Theology in Brazil

André Musskopf


The HIV and AIDS epidemic arrived in Brazil as a gay cancer, a narrative created mostly through the media before actual cases were diagnosed. This narrative has remained strong and powerful maintaining the stigma and discrimination against people with HIV and AIDS. Any truthful and honest theological or church response to the epidemic will have to deal with this ghost even when the focus is moved from the LGBT community to speak of other vulnerable subjects and groups. The first part of this article shows how the gay cancer narrative was constructed in the context of an emerging homosexual movement and major political changes in the country. The second part of the article presents some of the responses in the field of religion in the Brazilian context, how they reinforced the gay cancer narrative, but also how more positive answers were given, especially in the early years of the epidemic. It also makes explicit the virtual absence of a systematic theological reflection, even in the context of Latin American Liberation Theology, mostly because of the difficulty in dealing with structural issues that deepen and make more complex class and economic poverty. The third part of the article reports the creation and reactions to the HIV and AIDS prevention campaign Not even the Saint protects you Use condom in the context of the 15th S Paulo GLBT Pride Parade in 2011. The fourth and final part makes some theological remarks emerging from the narrative of the advertising campaign in the search for an out of the closet theology in the context of the HIV and AIDS epidemic.


HIV and AIDS; Brazil; Religion; Queer theology

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