Home Institution

Mills College

Publication Date

Spring 2005

Program Name

Brazil: Culture, Development, and Social Justice


For three weeks I studied lesbian women in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil through formal interview, informal interview and observation. I wanted to find out how lesbians interact with a machismo society that treats homosexuality as taboo and women as lesser. I discovered that lesbian women, in Salvador, mainly fall into two categories. The first category describes women that are masculine in nature and therefore are obviously homosexual to the public. The second category of lesbians is less distinguishable by their outward appearance and thus blends in with mainstream society. Through observation and interview I discovered that there is a higher amount of group two lesbians living in Salvador. Both categories are oppressed, however only the first group of lesbians is labeled as deviants and marginalized to uphold the moral codes of Salvadorian machismo culture. Category two lesbians live their lives under the radar perceptible homosexual behavior and consequently do not interact socially with category one lesbians. In addition, the first group of lesbians receives the same levels of discrimination as gay men who are, on the whole, more visible in society than lesbians, because both communities are conspicuously gay to the general public.


Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies


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