As a heterosexual living in Brazil, I'd like to note some of the differences I've observed in terms of how gays are treated in the US and in Brazil. Maybe some who now live in the US will decide to visit Brazil and perhaps even retire here.
1). On October 10, 2010, the city of Rio de Janeiro will host the largest annual gay pride parade.
The 2010 Rio Gay Pride Parade expects 2 million people for its 15th edition on October 10th. Spring temperature on the 80's, packed beaches and low prices for airfare and hotels, make it the right time to visit the Cidade Maravilhosa. Learn more about the Parade and its history.
The Gay Pride Parade has become a tourist attraction for visitors, gay and straight, from all over the world.
2). Here in the small northeastern Brazilian city where I live, cross-dressing is more common and more accepted, and this is true comparatively throughout Brazil. In the city where I live, the largest dance club uses marching bands in tourist areas to publicize events at the club. Their marching band is always headed by a gay drag queen who is also a major attraction at the dance club itself. Everyone in this city recognizes and accepts him, both when he is dressed as a fabulous woman and when he walks around as a less fabulous man.
3). Brazilians (such as my Afro-Brazilian wife) say that gays often have strong artistic and creative abilities, and gays are able to market their artistic services openly as gays. For example, the best known party decoration expert in the city where I live happens to be a gay man.
4). It is quite obvious that he is gay because of the clothes he wears and because he calls himself a "bicha" or "viado" which mean "queer."
5). The experience that prompts me to write about this is that yesterday a man (whom I did not know is gay) announced that he is when he told a heterosexual friend of mine that my friend is hot and he would like to get with my friend. In the United States, a gay coming on to a homosexual man could easily result in an angry confrontation and gay-bashing. Here it was just funny and everyone laughed.
6). When I was at an Internet cafe, a gay dance review promotor came in and asked the attendant to download photographs of him from one sight and upload them to another. In the photographs, he was seen sitting on the laps of other men and he told us proudly which of the men he had sexed. Once again, this is simply normal conversation in Brazil, received with the same equanimity as if he had said he had sex with a woman during his vacation.
He explained that he makes a nice living traveling around Brazil and producing gay events.
7). In Internet cafes, it is normal to see men looking with desire at photographs and descriptions of other men.
8). I have a good friend who is gay and who has told me that Brasilia is a great place for gays. He told me of a bar there that objected to gay people openly gathering there. As a result the capitol's gay community decided to go en masse to this restaurant, filling up the restaurant and the entire street in front of it, going in both directions. The owner capitulated and the restaurant continues to be a meeting place for gays.
9). A friend of mine's son recently told my wife that his son has come out to him as gay. The father told my wife that's it's not what he wanted, but it's something he has to accept. End of story.
10). One of the annual traditions here is for young high school graduates to dress up as women and walk around in public. I'm talking about heterosexuals now. The adolescent men dress up as women and the women dress up as men, and I have seen this annually for the last six years. It's a tradition.
11). The only organized group I am aware of that crusades against gay rights here is the Catholic Church.
12). Gay marriage can be the basis for immigration requests based on established gay coupleship, even though Brazil does not permit gay marriage. Brazil DOES permit gays to establish "stable unions" in the way that heterosexuals do.