December 23, 2019 at 12:58 pm PST | by John Paul King
Netflix comedy implying “Gay Jesus” stirs conservative wrath

Image courtesy of Netflix

A Netflix Christmas special which heavily suggests Jesus is gay has drawn the ire of religious conservatives in Brazil.

The Brazilian-produced show, titled “A primeira tentação de Cristo” (“The First Temptation of Christ”), is a 46-minute comedy in Portuguese, in which Jesus (Gregório Duvivier) brings home his new friend, the obviously gay Orlando (Fábio Porchat), for a 30th-birthday visit with his family – Mary, Joseph, and God (whom Jesus has been told is his uncle) – after the two have spent 40 days in the desert together. The show strongly implies that they are lovers, with Orlando trying to reveal their relationship while Jesus repeatedly changes the subject.

The short film is the product of Brazilian comedy troupe Porta dos Fundos (Backdoor), who began sharing their satirical videos through their You Tube channel in 2012. Their popularity led to a show on Fox Network Brazil in 2014 and a theatrical film, “Contrato Vitalício,” in 2016. The group’s 2018 special “The Last Hangover” – which was also streamed on Netflix – won an International Emmy for Best Comedy Web TV Special.

After the new Christmas special premiered on Netflix on December 3, it quickly become a target for religious conservatives in the heavily Catholic Brazil.  An online petition was organized demanding that the show be removed from the streaming service’s catalogue, that its creators be “held responsible for the crime of vilification of the faith,” and that Netflix issue a “public retraction, for they have seriously offended Christians.” At the time of this writing, the petition had collected over 2 million signatures.

According to Vice, fundamentalist leaders and opponents of pro-LGBT agendas have taken further action, including calling for boycotts of Netflix, demanding a Parliamentary investigation of the comedy group, and suing the government to censor the episode.

Federal Congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro joined the fray by tweeting, “We are in favor of freedom of expression, but is it worth attacking the faith of 86% of the population?”

The congressman is the son of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, whose government has taken an aggressive stance against LGBTQ equality, and who recently objected to a ruling by the country’s Supreme Court criminalizing homophobia and characterizing it as a form of racism by saying he is a “proud homophobe” and that he would prefer a “dead son to a gay son.”

As for the show’s creators, they have taken a characteristically humorous approach in their response to the backlash, with Porchat (who is one of the founders of Porta dos Fundos as well as appearing in the special) tweeting, “Guys, you can let me work it out with God, that’s fine, you don’t have to worry about it. Now you can get angry again with the inequality that destroys our country. But you have to be outraged with equal passion, okay?”

He also told Variety in an interview last week that protest against the special was “homophobic,” and that Netflix had been supportive. “They haven’t said anything to us like, ‘Maybe we should stop making the special available’,” he said. “They support freedom of speech.”

When asked for comment last Monday, Netflix declined. However, on Tuesday, it was reported that the comedy special had become the best performing Brazilian program in the streaming network’s history, and that Porta dos Fundos had been commissioned to create a third Christmas special in 2020.

The show remains available on Netflix. You can watch the trailer below:

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