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Greater love has no man than he lay…

9 January 2010

This is one of those weird stories you run across (ok… I run across)  looking for something entirely unrelated… aided and abetted by next to non-existent Portuguese reading comprehension skills .    That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

The problem with stereotypes is not that they’re universally wrong, or even that they’re necessarily negative, but that they overlook the complexities of human existence.

Consider  Alexandre Senna,  a pastor of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, an evangelical denomination, who preaches the Gospel to the poor and the imprisoned in Rio de Janeiro.  While an active and full-time pastor, he works a second job to allow his wife, Sibele Trindade, to fulfil the stereotypical role of the stay at home caregiver to their children.  In other words, a stereotypical evangelical, traditional, family values kind of guy.

We hear “Traditional Family Values” and “Evangelical” and … and mentally add terms like “conformist” and “puritan” that might belong to our own culture, but not necessarily to Latin America.

“Traditional family values”  in Latin America mean not so much having the traditional family (although the Sennas — a working dad, a stay at home mom and a couple of kids, — certainly fit OUR definition of one), but a tradition of suppressing personal desires in the interest of the family, of doing whatever is necessary to  support the family, even when there is a contradiction with expected cultural norms.

While we are likely to see “ministering to the poor” suggesting the Rev. Senna is not some over-paid, over-hyped TV performer or political actor, our stereotype of the “Evangelical pastor” is of someone upholding the older, puritanical values of our past.  Which is only possible by denying two more cherished stereotypes about Latin Americans — the hedonistic Latin, and the rebellious Latin.

First, Latin Americans in general, and certainty not Brazilians, have ever been known as puritanical.  There aren’t that many puritanical values to uphold.    And although evangelical faiths in both Latin America and the United States appeal to those who feel  “left behind” by the cultural and political elites, the Latin evangelicals has no nostalgia for whatever it was they  “left behind” .  What I mean is that in the United States, the evangelicals tend to be cultural and political conservatives, uncomfortable with, or hostile to, social change.  Latin American evangelicals are more likely to embrace it.

After all, Latin America is traditionally Roman Catholic.   Protestantism, in opposition to the traditional Catholicism of Latin America, has always placed its emphasis on personal salvation.  Catholicism speaks more of a community of believers and works well for mass movements, especially conservative ones, whereas Protestantism is the ideal religion for the poor and ambitious individual, seeking his or her personal salvation — economic as well as spiritual.

So, back to the Reverend Senna.  Obviously, the poor and the imprisoned can’t toss much in the collection basket, and  — being a good family man and all — the pastor needs to make a living if he is to minister to his flock.  There is no shame among Latin Americans in doing a job that requires something other than one’s formal training and experience.  Especially when it allows one to continue both one’s “calling” AND contibutes to the family’s welfare.

I only said he wasn’t a TV performer or political actor… not that he isn’t a performer and actor of some kind.  Of the porn actor kind.  Of the gay porn actor kind.   Of the gay muscle-man porn actor kind to be precise.

Rev. Senna has had featured roles ina numerous films with titles like  Sugar Cane Studs, Muscle Resort 3, and  Brazilian Hot Truckers .  He was the star of Gay Cops. There goes another stereotype!

Probably two. Cops and truckers might have the “macho” stereotype, the titles of Sennas’s oeuvre don’t sound like films dealing with “artistic sorts” or sissies.  Our assumptions about Latin American assumptions about both machismo and gays need to be readjusted.

I’m sure Alexandre Senna knows I Corinthians 6:9. It’s a favorite with Evangelicals in the United States. But where the American Standard Bible uses the modern word “homosexual”, the classic Protestant Bible in Portuguese — the 1654 translation by João Ferreira de Almeida — says “effeminate” men.  Just a guess, but Muscle Resort 3 and Sugar Cane Studs don’t sound like they have much to do with girly-men.

Besides, Sibele Trinidad says as long as he’s not with other women, and its only a movie, it isn’t adultery, and doesn’t impact her and the family. Alexandre Senna, macho gay porn star and “out” evangelical,  may not compute to us, but  makes perfect sense in a Latin way.

Brazil´s robust porn industry is itself a stereotype…  exploiting lower cost natural resources for the foreign market … and based on stereotypes: of Brazilian beauty, of Latin hedonism, of machismo.  It’s another stereotype of Latin America that people make use of what they have in creative and lucrative ways.   Maybe these two — the creative exploitation of foreign markets and the creative use of what the Rev. no doubt considers God-given attributes, are the one that we should have focused on all along.

Perhaps we have allowed ourselves to be misled by our assumptions about  “traditional values” and “evangelicals” and even “machismo” based — not on Latin stereotpes — but on our stereotyped response to stereotypes. As a good shepherd to his flock, a Christian and family man seeking to improve his financial condition … he’s a walking, breathing (heavily breathing?) stereotype … just not the stereotype we stereotypically expect.

Stereotyped Christian couples, north and south

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 24 July 2010 9:07 pm

    What is your source for this unlikely story.

    • 24 July 2010 10:23 pm

      SourceS, though I’m not sure of the proper footnoting for Brazilian gossip rags and …er… “adult entertainment” catalogs. Unfortunately including source links would have given intended and regular readers a false impression as to the purpose of this site — when all I saw was a interesting and highly unusual take on Latin American culture. And, as it is, the story is no more unlikely than claims made for “health supplements”.

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