"We have to be alive in order to marry": Black LGBTT Youth and Geographies of Violence in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
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This paper interrogates contradictions between (1) pro-LGBTT discourse through tourism, planning and LGBTT activism and (2) black LGBTT youth’s particular experiences with violence in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Despite many pro-LGBTT political gains (e.g. national anti-homophobia policies and legalized same-sex marriage), many black LGBTT youth still navigate a homophobic landscape segregated by race and class. A geographical and discursive divide emerges between spaces of gay tourism and social life—ensconced in affluent, white neighborhoods—and majority-black peripheral neighborhoods, which are both sites of gendered, anti-black violence targeting non-normative black youth. I am particularly interested in black LGBTT youth’s strategies to negotiate gendered, anti-black violence—even in places that claim to be inclusive and safe for them. Secondly, I examine where and how black LGBTT youth create sites of pleasure, kinship and support amidst this violence. Drawing on feminist, queer and black feminist engagements with human geography, I contend that black LGBTT youth in Rio de Janeiro consistently appropriate urban space in order to refashion themselves and create sites of potential through social media, performance, music and political demonstration. These ‘remappings’ explain how anti-black racism is central in ordering urban space, even when black people are not visibly present. Thus, cities’ promises of diversity and inclusion through ‘gay-friendly’ tourism and planning are often naïve in their conception and implementation, complicit with gendered, anti-black violence. Christen Smith (2016) terms this paradoxical spectacle as an “afro-paradise”, orchestrated by society and the state. NOTE: This paper serves as an exploration of relevant literature as well as an empirical analysis based on preliminary fieldwork for my MA/MS thesis. Fieldwork will continue in summer 2016 and winter 2017.