PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — During a three-hour session held at the São Paulo State Legislature in Brazil Nov. 26, 2013, James N. Green, professor of history, offered testimony to the São Paulo Truth Commission about the nature of state repression of the LGBT movement during the dictatorship that ruled the country from 1964-85.
The session, titled “Dictatorship and Homosexuality,” included Marisa Fernandes, a longtime lesbian-feminist activist, who was a leading member with Green of SOMOS, Brazil's first LGBT rights organization, during the late 1970s and early 1980s. The hearing was conducted in concert with efforts to gather documentation for the National Truth Commission, appointed in 2011 by President Dilma Rousseff. The commission was mandated to investigate human rights violations committed by the state during the dictatorship.
In his testimony Green said, “The fact that the military regime carried out the systematic torture of oppositionists created a climate of fear and paranoia, which made the initial work of the LGBT movement extremely difficult. People were afraid to meet and discuss the possibilities of organizing a movement that would fight against discrimination and homophobia. The state also carried out strategic campaigns of intimidation to discourage such activism.”
Green, the author of Beyond Carnival: Male Homosexuality in Twentieth-Century Brazil (Chicago, 1999), is also a consultant to Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, a member of the National Truth Commission and an adjunct professor of international studies at the Watson Institute.