Show Your Pride! Gay Sao Paulo
Sure, everyone likes to go to Rio de Janeiro to sit on the sandy beaches and check out the well-tanned beefcake that always seems on display. But, there is much more to the Brazil gay scene than just the Copacabana in Rio!
In fact, one of the most intense gay friendly cultures in the world exists in Sao Paulo – following generations of immigration from Europe and smaller South American countries by people who did not fit in back home, and were attracted to the strong, business friendly economy.
Because of this, there is a wealth of languages spoken in the city – and you can easily get by in almost any native tongue, even if you don’t speak Portuguese
That said, like anywhere, it is a good idea to learn at least a few key phrases in case you end up in an unexpected situation and to show respect for your host country.
Sao Paulo was founded in 1554 by Jesuit missionaries who wanted to convert the
native population to Catholicism. It became and independent recognized city in 1771 and has kept growing ever since.
Most gay travelers who know Sao Paulo come here for the first time because of the legendary International Gay Pride Parade. This festival is beyond anything you may have seen anywhere else in the world.Every June more than 1.5 million gay, lesbian and transgendered travelers descend on Sao Paulo to hold what has become the largest Gay Pride Festival anywhere in the world – making similar events in New York and San Francisco seem like a cruise in the park!The parade starts in front of the Museu de Arte de São Paulo and moves along the Avenida Paulista towards the Praça da República. It covers a distance of a little more than 3 kilometers over more than five hours. It starts at 2 pm, but most people start showing up in the early morning hours to avoid the last minute rush.
In addition to the parade, there will be cultural events and musical shows with live bands.
The parade itself is hosted and opened by mayor.
What’s truly amazing about the Sao Paulo International Gay Pride Parade is that it is so new. The first parade, in 1997, only attracted about 3,000 people. But it has grown exponentially over the years into an enormous carnival like atmosphere.
This is a huge change in gay cultural acceptance from the late 1930s when members of the Institute of Criminology used to come to study the “passive pederasts” (as bottoms were then known) and the “real men” (read, “butch tops”) who they had sex with.
Today, gay culture is well enshrined in the city, which boasts numerous gay and lesbian film festivals and a tolerance and acceptance of homosexuality that is surprising given the macho culture.
One of the most exciting events, Sao Paulo Fashion Week is held twice a year in Bienal de São Paulo. In recent years it has started attracting some of the world’s top models and designers, who party hard amid the gorgeous locals.
Be warned that getting around Sao Paulo can be difficult – always allow as much extra time as possible to get to any meetings or rendez-vous. The city was built without a well organized planning system – so traffic jams are common at nearly all hours of the day and night.
The city itself is an anomaly for South America – it is huge, pro business and supports a giant, successful economy.
There are more than 33,000 industries represented in the city – which boasts a population of more than 10 million people – making it the fourth largest, if least known, city in the world!
For decades the largest industry in Sao Paulo has been coffee production. In fact, it was this industry that attracted much of the working migrants from Europe who settled here in the late 19th and 20th centuries, looking for secure jobs at decent wages in a city with a comparatively low cost of living.
Sao Paulo is very spread out – covering an area of more than 530 square miles. This means that there is always room for new immigration and the gay and lesbian cultural scene is constantly expanding.
Like Rio de Janeiro, one of the most popular activities in Sao Paulo is hitting the dozens of beaches that dot the 622 kilometer coastline. Here you can find any type of beach you want – from large and crowded meat markets, to small intimate shores to simply lay down in the sun and work on getting as brown as the natives.
By 2004, there were more than 100 recognized gay bars, restaurants, cultural centers and other rainbow themed establishments.
With nearly 300 movie theaters, more than 70 museums and dozens of open parks, you are not apt to ever get bored in Sao Paulo, even if you are not in the mood to look for the 10s of thousands of hot studs that roam the streets at night looking for fun.
You will also have a much wider choice of “types” to choose from than you would in other cities around the world. Because Sao Paulo has been such a magnet for immigration from around the world, it has become a true mish mosh of cultural characteristics and looks.
In other words, while there are any numbers of tall, dark traditional looking Brazilian men, there are also blondes, brunettes, blacks and backpacking Euroboys to choose from!
The newest and trendiest sector of the gay community is called Frei Caneca where you can find any number of gay friendly theaters, restaurants and cruising bars.
Speaking of cruising, if you are looking to hook up with random studs and eager guys, we suggest Park Ibirapuera. Not only are there lots of crusiers in this area, it is also home to tons of male eye candy. From joggers, to roller bladders to cute bike boys to fuel your fantasies!
Just be sure to always practice safe sex. The ever-changing community and thousands of tourists make practicing safe sex in Sao Paulo mandatory.
The largest gay area is downtown around Praça da Republica and Largo do Arouche . This is where you will find the largest concentration of gay bars and clubs, gay friendly shopping and hot guys.
This is also where you will find tons of drag shows (frequented by both a gay and straight clientele) and, of course, the ever-present hustlers. Like any tourist heavy community in the world, you need to keep aware of your surroundings here to avoid getting ripped off – but it is the place to go when you are in the mood to go down.
If you have a fat wallet – and fabulous clothes to go with it – take a stroll down to the Jardins part of town. This is where the richest and chicest gays in Sao Paulo hang out.
While there are wonderful gay bars and super exclusive restaurants in the Jardin’s area, it can also be a seriously bitchy culture to hang out in. That said, if you like hanging out with the cool boys and have the clothes and looks to pull it off, you can have a fabulous time!
No matter what you are looking for, Sao Paulo is a great destination for any gay traveler. You will be in the heart of a huge cultural center, with a gay friendly native population and tons of different types of studs to choose from.
cc Gaybrazil.com 2014
We love gay Sao Paulo and it is one of our favorite places to visit. Thanks to the guys at Boytoy for their help and advice with this article and to their Gay Brazil forum for all the wonderful trip reports and details on places to go and see!
To learn more about Gay Brazil, read THIS article.