This article examines the works of Richard Parker and Graeme Reid who both set out to explore the emerging gay communities in non-western societies. In an era of globalisation, western conceptions of a gay identity are spread throughout the world creating what some might refer to as a global gay identity (Altman 2001). However, Parker, whose research is based in Brazil, and Reid, South Africa, reveal the importance of the local in interpreting samesex behaviour. The local and the global intermingle in these societies creating a gay community of its own, while undermining the notion of a global gay identity. The following key themes presented in both these works are compared in order to understand the complex interplay between the local and global in interpreting what it means to be gay cross-culturally: (1) The economic and political developments that have allowed for the influx of modern ideas from abroad and the growth of gay communities, (2) The categorisation of men who have sex with men through unique terminology and their meanings, (3) The gay spaces which have permitted sexual expression, and (4) The assertion of a modern gay identity by local advocacy groups.
This article by Tony Coelho was published originally in Amsterdam Social Science Volume 1 Issue 2 (2008). Click here for the complete article.
Picture credit: Debora Ferraz