Brazil drag queen fights hate with children’s stories

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01/15/2024

Wearing heavy makeup and a fuchsia wig, Brazilian drag queen Helena Black is acting out a story for a rapt group of children — but this is not your typical fairytale. “The princess’ true love was not Prince Febo, nor any other man: it was the seamstress,” the performer tells the young listeners at a community center in Sao Jose dos Campos, outside Sao Paulo. “Helena Black” is the creation of art teacher and actor Paulo Reis, 40, a self-described marginalized, black, gay man who wanted an innovative way to fight homophobia in Brazil, a country where anti-LGBTQ prejudice can run deep.

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