Long-Term Lesbian Love in Brazil
Netfl ix documentary chronicles Nicinha and Jurema
BY NICOLE AKOUKOU THOMPSON
The Netfl ix documentary series
“My Love: Six Stories of True
Love,” released in mid-April, is a
case study on long-term romantic
relationships. The year-in-a-life account
quietly explores the varied
societal, communal and emotional
experiences of its protagonists.
Over the course of six hour-long
episodes, the limited series chronicles
the enduring and, at times,
imperfect love experienced by six
unique elderly couples from different
nations. Among the pairs is a
lesbian couple hailing from Brazil,
where discrimination and violence
against the queer community is
persistent despite same-sex marriage
rights and a Supreme Court
ruling two years ago that established
on the basis of gender identity
and sexual orientation.
The “Meu Amor Brazil” episode,
directed by Carolina Sá, opens to
raining fi reworks and a boisterous
countdown to the New Year. As colorful
sparks and crackling fl ashes
illuminate the skyline, two smiling
Afro-Brazilian women, Nicinha
and Jurema, share a kiss. Following
the proclamation of “Happy
New Year” and cheerful dancing,
viewers are taken on a tour of the
Jurema and Nicinha live in
Favela de Rocinha. which is built
on a steep hillside overlooking Rio
de Janeiro and boasts stunning
ocean and mountain views. Rocinha
is one of the most populous and
developed slums in Brazil.
The women share a furnished,
storied shanty, surrounded by an
abundance of children and grandchildren.
The two met at a party
decades ago when Jurema was 20
and Nicinha was 14: Nicinha had
gotten into a fi ght, so Jurema invited
her home to care for her four
“I thought that was interesting,”
Jurema recalled. “I said, ‘How
could this young girl fi ercely take
on so many people?'” The two have
been together ever since, and after
43 years together, they still touch,
Jurema and Nicinha star in an episode of Netfl ix’s “My Love: Six Stories of True Love” series.
caress, and playfully tease.
On the morning of Jurema’s
birthday, Nicinha prepares a large
lunch for her, Jurema’s children,
and her own children. Michelle,
Nicinha’s eldest, also bakes a cake
for Jurema with”6” a “5 balanced
atop. The whole family joyfully
sings and celebrates Jurema, who
they all adoringly call Grandma.
In a quick statement, viewers
learn that all isn’t perfect in their
world. Jurema explains Nicinha
would get pregnant each time the
couple got into a fi ght.
“I’d leave, I’d say, I’m going to the
samba,” said Nicinha. “It was a lie.
I was making out with men. I left
and came back home pregnant.”
Somehow able to overlook past
indiscretions, the two women labor
for one another. Nicinha spends
her days working as a maid and
Jurema takes care of the children.
They accompany one another to
important doctor appointments
and they feed and tend to one another.
Importantly, they’re able to
save enough money to purchase
land in Guando, a countryside village
three hours ride from their
home, where they retire. Though
the home on the property is in ruins
and home walls are crumbling,
there is peace, quiet, and possibility.
There’s also fresh fruit that’s
ripe for the picking.
As the episode progresses, viewers
learn that Jurema is diabetic
and in need of eye surgery. It’s revealed
that the two women are also
practitioners of the Umbanda religion,
whereby on Fridays, they hold
spiritual rituals in the spiritual
center of their home. Also, Michelle
graduates from college, which is a
tremendous point of pride for everyone,
particularly matriarch Jurema.
“I’ve always been proud of Michelle,”
Jurema says. “She was the
fi rst person to tell me, ‘Grandma,
all the things no one was able to
do to make you happy, I’ll get them
done. I’ll get christened. I’ll fi nish
➤ JUREMA AND NICINHA, continued on p.31
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