chapter  4
20 Pages

Gay Love, Gay Kisses

WithJune Carolyn Erlick

Most telenovelas focus on heterosexual love and desire. The images of gays in early telenovelas were all too often only in the context of a clownish figure or an empathetic hairdresser. If telenovelas project opportunities for shaping identification, there was little for a gay person to identify with. Despite the abundance of fairly progressive portrayals of gays in Brazilian telenovelas, the sensuous and sometimes steamy kisses between heterosexual partners were simply absent or discreetly implied in gay relationships. The physicality between same-sex couples normalizes the relationship between the couple. It is no longer a relationship that the viewer can surmise but not actually see. In much of Latin America, the inclusion of gay figures in a serious, respectful light has been gradual. Brazil, while having had its fair share of comic-relief gay roles, started to portray serious gay characters in relationships quite early.