ALL across Brazil this weekend, vigils and rallies are being held to protest against the brutal mutilation murder of a gay teenager ... the latest victim of homophobia in this country.
The death of 18-year-old JOÃO ANTÔNIO DONATI has galvanized worshipers of Antinous into proclaiming him the first martyr saint of Antinous in Brazil.
His severely beaten body was found in the city of Inhumas in the state of Goiás with his neck fractured and both legs broken and with his mouth and trachea stuffed with a plastic bag and a paper note, on which had been scrawled an anti-gay hate message saying that this is what should happen to all queers.
Reports say bruises, lacerations and contusions showed that he had put up a desperate struggle against his attackers.
Amidst allegations of an official cover-up, authorities are only saying that one suspect has been detained for questioning and that investigations are proceeding.
On the same day that João was killed, two other gays were beaten and a transvestite was murdered in the same state. But the images of João's smiling Facebook selfies instantly touched the hearts of millions.
Brazil has the largest Antinous faith community in the non-English speaking world, and adherents of Antinous have taken the unprecedented move of proclaiming João the first Saint of Antinous in Brazil.
"The death of João Antônio Donati, a vibrant young man filled with all the hopes and dreams of so many his age and who has become yet another victim of homophobia in Brazil, has so deeply touched us that we have been moved to initiate something in our country that has long been in the offing: the Declaration of Apotheosis and canonization of the martyrs of homophobia in Brazil," says CLAUDINEY PRIETO, a founding light of the Brazilian worship of Antinous.
Noting that anti-gay hate crimes and murders are frequent in Brazil, Claudiney says: "This is the first statement and official nomination amid many other that follow continuously over time honoring the names of many victims who have died in the past and who inevitably will be murdered in the future."
He adds, "We are setting out upon a long and arduous road which will entail hard battles for criminalization of homophobia in a country that has become increasingly Christo-Fascistic, homophobic and intolerant in a grotesque throwback of catastrophic and irreparable proportions. This is a turning point in history."
At the Hollywood Temple of Antinous, the founder of the modern religion of Antinous, ANTONIUS SUBIA, said:
"My prayer goes out to Antinous to take João Donati into his embrace, to give him a place of glory and bliss and show him that the world is not merely a place of hatred and violence, but that love still exists here.
"May his short beautiful life prove to be a changing point for Brazil, may his violent death awaken his country to the darkness and hatred that has infiltrated their society. May he be a martyr whose violent death brings an end to such things in the future," Antonius said in the statement issued moments ago.
Since João's death, his FACEBOOK page has filled with messages of condolence.
A month before his murder, he updated his profile image with the accompanying message: "Determination, courage and self-confidence are decisive factors for success.
"No matter what obstacles and difficulties. If we are possessed of an unwavering determination, we will be able to overcome them."
Though Brazil passed same-sex marriage into law last May, homophobic attacks and transphobic attacks are still common.
In February, six people thought to be connected to a string of anti-gay attacks in Brazil were arrested, after beating a gay teenager to death with a skateboard.
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