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Keywords:

  • [sex tourism;
  • gay identity;
  • male prostitution;
  • Brazil;
  • consumerism]

ABSTRACT

In this article, I examine the contradictory ideals and practices of North American gay sex tourists in Brazil. Even as gay travel can be an edifying search for broader community, gay tourists I met also argued that their travel and spending encourage local communities to become more tolerant of gay subjectivities. Gay tourists were attracted by “exotic” and “different” local models for same-sex desire, but they simultaneously promoted the universality of “gay identity” to sex workers as a matter of modernity and gay rights, thereby attempting to delegitimize the very sexual difference that initially attracted them. Moreover, tourists’ efforts to link consumer capability to sexual identification and civil rights reflect a larger and even more dangerous tendency to cede ethically grounded claims for equal rights to market-based ones.