POLITICS

Brazil's Far-Right President Tweeted Golden Shower Video To Push Anti-LGBTQ Views

Jair Bolsonaro is upset that the Carnival festival has turned against him. So he tweeted a pee tape.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro took a homophobic swing at Carnival this week.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro took a homophobic swing at Carnival this week.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro apparently doesn’t like that his country’s biggest celebration has also become its biggest protest against his leadership. On Tuesday evening, he lashed out at Carnival in a way that’s very on-brand for a homophobic authoritarian: by tweeting a video of a golden shower and clutching his pearls.

The video Bolsonaro presented to his 3.4 million followers (which is extremely NSFW ― you’ve been warned) shows someone peeing on someone else in front of a crowd of revelers at the annual festival. The far-right president feigned shock and concern over the display, wondering about the origins of the “golden shower” in an apparent attempt to disparage a nationwide celebration that has turned against him.

“I don’t feel comfortable showing this, but we have to expose the truth so the people can be aware,” he tweeted alongside the video. “This is what many street parties during Carnival have turned into.” 

Apparently confused by that video, Bolsonaro woke up Wednesday morning and asked his Twitter followers, “What is a golden shower?”

It’s a laughable, and for Brazilians embarrassing, moment from their new president, whose government has already been beset by corruption allegations involving his son Flavio, who is a senator, and his political party. The tweets drew immediate and overwhelming criticism across Brazil. “Bolsonaro shares video of man fiddling with his anus and suggests it is a common scene during carnival,” São Paulo’s biggest newspaper said as it slammed the president. 

But behind the specific attack on Carnival is a more serious and troubling explanation: This was Brazil’s president attempting to use its largest and most significant cultural event to advance his ardently conservative and openly homophobic agenda.

For the last week, the pre-Lenten parties across Brazil have struck a definitively anti-Bolsonaro tone, as Carnival revelers turned the festival into a cry of resistance against Bolsonaro’s racism, sexism and homophobia. 

Carnival’s blocos ― or traditional street parties ― sounded off with music criticizing Bolsonaro’s anti-LGBTQ policies and his efforts to ease gun laws, while revelers wore costumes that mocked the president and his anti-gay, anti-black and anti-indigenous initiatives. (A pro-Bolsonaro bloco in São Paulo, meanwhile, drew nobody.)

The backlash spilled into the official aspects of the celebration: In Rio, a top samba school ― one of the acting and dancing clubs that compete against each other in Carnival’s competitions ― used its parade to honor Marielle Franco, the black, queer Rio city councilwoman who was assassinated a year ago this month. A top samba school in São Paulo turned its parade into a similar demonstration.

Bolsonaro’s typical response to criticism is fierce backlash, often on social media. So this year, Carnival became another canvas on which he could paint his foes as a sort of distant other trying to “import foreign ideologies” and steal Brazil from conservatives like him.

LGBTQ people have long been a favorite target for him. Bolsonaro has raved against the perceived threats of teaching schoolchildren about LGBTQ acceptance and “gender ideology” in schools, and in the final days before the election, his supporters peddled fake news accusing his leftist opponent of supporting gay pedophilia. On the first day of his presidency, Bolsonaro removed the LGBTQ community from the list of those protected by Brazil’s human rights ministry.

And Twitter is a favorite place to spread those views. Bolsonaro used the social media site to appeal to fervent social conservatives throughout his presidential campaign and has continued to do so since assuming office in January.

In January, Bolsonaro used Twitter to taunt Jean Wyllys, an openly gay federal congressman who fled Brazil amid death threats, with a thumbs-up emoji and the words, “Great day!” He previously aimed homophobic statements about anal sex at Glenn Greenwald, the openly gay Intercept journalist who lives in Brazil.

So Tuesday’s tweets ― vulgar as they may have been ― were in line with Bolsonaro’s approach to governance and his willingness to take aim at the communities that he sees as having no legitimate place in his Brazil

While the tweets drew much criticism online, the Bolsonaro government’s official targeting of the country’s cultural institutions and marginalized populations continues apace: Earlier Tuesday, he called on the Brazilian Congress to approve a law giving one of the world’s deadliest police forces even more leeway to shoot and kill alleged criminals. And his environmental minister told Brazilian newspapers that Bolsonaro was exploring ways to open protected indigenous lands to mining interests, a threat that the country’s indigenous populations fear could lead to their “genocide.”

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