um beijo para gabriela


Andrew Hunter will be remembered

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On December 26, 2013 the President of the Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP) Andrew Hunter died unexpectedly. Andrew was a founding member of the NSWP and the Asia Pacific Network of Sex Work Projects (APNSW). A gathering in Bangkok is planned to remember Andrew on January 18, 2014. Those who are unable to travel to Thailand are invited to donate towards the cost of the ceremony.

We at A KISS FOR GABRIELA knew Andrew for well over 15 years and saw him frequently at events in defense of the rights of sex workers. Laura had a chance to catch up with Andrew during the Sex Worker Freedom Festival in Kolkata in July 2012, an event organized as an alternative to the International AIDS Conference in Washington DC that sex workers, drug users and many trans people could not attend because of the US government’s irrational immigration restrictions. Andrew, always organizing and pushing for rights, noted during the festival at a press conference that sex workers were “extremely disappointed that [US government officials] refuse to revise their restrictions on sex workers and refuse to recognise that we are human beings with basic rights.” In September of 2013 in a piece published in Tits and Sass, Andrew recalled how sex workers and drug users were united at the Freedom Festival saying, “we invited INPUD to run sessions, and we made spaces for drug users who were banned entry to the US conference in DC to come to Kolkata, and it was really great. There was lots of learning on both sides.” In early 2012, Penelope spent a day holed up in an ice encrusted hotel in Montreux, Switzerland, with Andrew and numerous other sex worker rights advocates from around the globe as they worked to succinctly define key health and policy questions with some multilateral agencies. Andrew was absolutely clear that day as he was every other day of his life that global agencies are accountable to the people, the facts and the rights of sex workers.

In 2013 with the loss of both Gabriela Leite and Andrew Hunter, we are reminded that our leaders may only be with us for a short time, that the struggle for rights can take its toll, but that ultimately with our combined energy we will win justice. They would not expect us to do any less than that.

We have gathered some of the statements that moved us from folks all around the world who are remembering Andrew.

My chalice is lit in my quiet place this morning to honour his life. I shall miss him as a friend. We have lost a leader in the sex worker rights movement. My red umbrella is in fold. So I say hamba kahle now to a comrade. Rest in peace Andrew Hunter. NgoXolo amaQabane. Shane Petzer, founder of SWEAT, former coordinator of NSWP, December 26, 2013

The global AIDS movement has lost a great advocate and activist who was a phenomenal force of energy. Andrew was a courageous champion of sex worker-led HIV programming. We will miss his vision, energy and compassion. Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS, Geneva, December 27, 2013

I first met Andrew almost ten years ago in Bangkok. He was terribly funny and terrifyingly smart, truly a force to be reckoned with. We were very lucky to have had the opportunity to know him and work with him. His expertise informed many of Urgent Action Fund’s rapid-response grants to human rights defenders over the years, positively impacting organizations that will continue to thrive through the movement that he so fearlessly led. Kate Kroeger, Urgent Action Fund’s Executive Director, January 3, 2014

We got to know Andrew Hunter as a true activist, outspoken and intelligent. Andrew Hunter will be missed deeply. However, his contribution to the HIV response and the sex work movement will live on. Bridging the Gaps, January 7, 2014


A Kiss for Gabriela announced today as part of the line-up at Athena Film Festival!

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2014 Athena accolade large

We are thrilled to be a part of the Athena Film Festival, to be held in New York City from February 6th-9th. The Festival honors and showcases films about women leaders – both documentary and fiction. Needless to say, Gabriela will be in very good company and we are so pleased to be part of a festival that celebrates women who rock and rule!

Check out the entire line-up here – A KISS FOR GABRIELA will be shown on February 8th at 2PM. Click here to buy tickets and for more info!




Nine ladies dancing, eight maids a milking and 100 kisses for Gabi!

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nine ladies dancing


Our twist on the 12 days of Christmas brings the largest kiss in the history of A Kiss for Gabriela! After a December 6th screening of the film at the Sub-Secretariat for Women’s Policies in Rio de Janeiro (SPMulheres, CEDIM), the audience sent Gabriela hundreds of kisses.  We share them here with you, along with our wishes for a 2014 full of kisses, happiness, light, peace, pleasure, and inspiration!



Embracing the “opinionated whore”: Gabriela on December 17

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The following toast to Gabriela–written by Penelope Saunders–was read by SWOP-NYC member Leigh at the NYC event honoring the Eleventh Annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex workers. The beautiful photograph of the altar at the event comes to us courtesy of Kate D’Adamo, an organizer at SWOP-NYC.

December 17, 2013 in NYC

Gabriela Leite the founder of the Brazilian sex worker rights movement died this year in mid-October. Her friends, family and comrades in the Brazilian whore revolution said on her passing that: “Gabriela inaugurated a new way of being and doing politics.”

She was Brazil’s “Number 1 Puta,” embracing the term prostitute to radically reinvent its meaning. Mainstream journalists and commentators have tried to “defang” her, repeatedly reporting that she was a “sociologist” perhaps because they feel that this is an “acceptable” profession.

But no… she was NEVER a “sociologist” or anything like that. She left her studies to pursue work in prostitution. Gabriela Leite was one of those very few people who stand openly and proudly as a whore. She would have wanted us to shout it out. She was a Puta. Prostituta. Freedom fighter until the last.

She sparked a movement, convening the first national meeting of Brazilian sex workers in 1987, establishing the organization Davida in 1992 and inaugurating an incredible clothing line Daspu—“of the whores”—in 2005. These last few years I have been fortunate enough to work on a project called A Kiss for Gabriela, letting people know about Laura Murray’s film that documents Gabriela’s run for federal office in 2010. Her husband Flavio Lenz was by Gabriela’s side, supporting her all the way.

Many, many years ago people warned me about Gabriela, saying that she was an opinionated diva who was “hard to work with” and hinting that perhaps I wouldn’t agree with her politics and her views. Having this chance to work with her so much recently I found out—just like I discovered when I started working with Robyn Few—that Gabriela did nothing more controversial than speak the truth, raise her voice as a woman and as a whore, and hold true to her open-minded vision of better future.

Divas? Maybe. Truth tellers? ABSOLUTELY.

Today, December 17, we celebrate and embrace the “opinionated whores” we lost in the last year, the year before, the decade before and the century before. We all stand a little taller because they went out in their (metaphorical) high heels.

Gabriela Leite, we are so sad you are no longer here. We wish we had had more time. But we know that your work will go on through the actions of all us.

Remembering Gabriela: dressing in Daspu in Montreal

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As we approach the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers–our first December 17 without Gabriela–we turn our thoughts to how she has inspired activists all around the world to fight for the rights of sex workers. Jenn Clamen, an activist who calls both the sex worker rights organization Stella and the sex worker rights community in Montreal (Canada) home, has provided her reflections about connections between Gabriela’s work, Davida (the Rio-based organization founded by Gabriela in 1992) and Canadian activism. Jenn has been actively involved in the sex worker rights movement since 2001, both on a local level in Canada and globally. In thinking about how Gabriela has influenced her work, Jenn writes, “I have had the pleasure and privilege of being trained up by some of the most ardent and dedicated sex worker activists and continue to learn daily from newer and older members of this movement.”

A Kiss for Gabriela: how has Gabriela’s work been connected to sex worker rights activism in Canada?


Jenn Clamen: In 2007 we had a great opportunity at Stella to connect with Davida in a creative and meaningful way. Urbania — an artsy magazine in Québec — invited Stella to a photoshoot to highlight both our work and the work of our colleagues in Brazil through the clothing line Daspu established by Davida in 2005. Members of the Stella team were dolled up with hair, makeup and, of course, the Daspu fashions. It was a chance to demonstrate solidarity with sex workers in Brazil and across regions, while simultaneously educating the Québec public about funding restrictions, sex workers’ realities and about the creative ways that sex workers raise money to keep organizations alive. The photoshoot was empowering on so many levels, particularly because sex workers clothed in the Daspu fashion line were able to occupy such a mainstream space.

A Kiss: Do you have any recollections about meeting Gabriela and finding out about her work?

Jenn: I first met Gabriela in person at the AIDS conference in Toronto in 2006 and had the privilege of working more closely with her on the first official board of the NSWP when it was incorporated in 2008. Gabriela, for me, was larger than life. A tiny bundle with so much strength, power and elegance. She was affectionately known for stirring the pot, so I related to that a bit — I know I’m not alone with that. Gabriela was someone I could speak to without words, without language — which for the most part was necessary since I don’t speak a word of Portuguese. I was really amazed at how much enthusiasm and passion we were able to share in cadences and hand gestures while chain smoking and drinking into the wee hours of the morning.  Gabriela taught me not to be afraid of my beliefs and my convictions, even if it meant that other people may be challenged by this. I was particularly moved by dedication to the work with the Brazilian government and the return of USAID funds. I thought it was ballsy, to say the least. We all recognize that sex workers in different parts of the world have different and shared privileges, and that some are in positions where these funds are their only life-saver. Despite this, I am grateful for people like Gabriela who was able to set a standard and stick by her convictions.

And on a lighter note, Gabriela inspired me to my future 60 year old heart to never hang my heels and sport my leather bomber with pride.

A Kiss: What do you think she contributed and what about her and her work is important to move forward?

Jenn: This week as activists in Canada organize in anticipation of the Bedford decision–a case at the Canadian Supreme Court to strike down three major prostitution laws–Gabriela’s unflinching commitment to rights could not be more relevant. Gabriela inspires people to stick to their convictions. We can all learn from was the creative ways that she and Davida responded to the lack of funding and return of USAID funds — the difficult decisions that we have to make sometimes as collectives can also have creative and empowering solution — the creation of Daspu was brilliant on so many of these levels. This kind of creativity, resilience and dedication are tributes to her life and qualities that she inspired in many of us around her that live on in all of us, I believe.

Remembering the losses this December 17

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Sex worker communities around the world are coming together celebrate the eleventh annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. Representatives of A Kiss for Gabriela have been invited to remember Gabriela Leite during the event In Memory We Live On: The International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers on Tuesday, December 17, 7:30pm at Trinity Lutheran Church of Manhattan in NYC.

NYC organizations including SWOP-NYC and SWANK invite sex work communities, allies, advocates, friends and family to celebrate the memories of those the community has lost, and share in the strength and resilience of those involved with or impacted by the sex trade. The organizations mark this day every year to come together as a singular voice, and re-commit the community in the struggle to fight for the rights and dignity to which all are entitled. The event this year will feature a living altar that will be be created at the vigil. Attendees are encouraged to bring an item, picture, card, or story which represents a moment of resilience they wish to contribute to the altar or share with the community.

In order to support the community of sex workers, SWANK (an organization for sex workers and people in the sex trade) has planned a “sex worker self-care day” on Sunday December 15. The event aims to “build resilience together” and is open to sex workers and people in the sex trade.

For more information on the events, please check out SWOP-NYC and SWANK’s Facebook Page.

December 17 vigil in NYC. Photo by PJ Starr.

December 17 vigil in NYC. Photo by PJ Starr.




Dossier Gabriela Leite

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[Reposting this fantastic dossier with all that was published about Gabriela put together by Sexuality Policy Watch:  Image above from ABIA.]

Dossier Gabriela Leite

The death of Gabriela Leite, on October 10, meant a great loss for the struggle for the rights of prostitutes, and sexual rights brodaly speaking, in Brazil. Throughout her life Gabriela embodied the struggle for freedom, non discrimination  and the right to pleasure and happinness.

As a tribute to Gabriela, SPW gathered articles and notes that have been issued by civil society organizations, social movements, government institutions as well as press articles after her death. We clustered this material in three categories: articles and the analytical notes that devote attention to the role of Gabriela on the political scene; notes of sorrow and sympathy issued in Brazil and worldwide; and, finally, press repercussion.

Articles and analytical notes

“Antes sem-vergonha do que vítima” – CLAM/IMS/UERJ

Mundo ficou mais careta sem Gabriela, uma senhora puta – Estado de São Paulo

Gabriela Leite: contra preconceitos, a força da ironia – Outras palavras

Os legados de Norma Benguell e Gabriela Leite –

Sobre putas e palavras mágicas – Blogueiras feministas

Gabriela Leite e a “liberdade de pensar e se comportar diferente” – Rede Brasil Atual

Se fue uma hija, madre, abuela y puta – Correspondesalesclave

30 ANOS DO PROGRAMA DE DST/AIDS DE SP: Gabriela Leite é homenageada na mesa que revelou dados de pesquisas sobre HIV em gays e presidiárias – Agência de Notícias da Aids

Inspirational brazilian activist Gabriela Leite dies – NWSP

Condolence notes

Breve adeus a Gabriela Leite – ABIA

Cebes presta últimas homenagens à líder feminista Gabriela Silva Leite – CEBES

Farewell to Gabriela Leite – A kiss for Gabriela

O que é liberdade para Gabriela Leite – Rede Democrática

STRASS – Syndicat du Travail Sexuel

O adeus a Gabriela Leite, a mulher que trouxe cidadania e respeito às prostitutas do Brasil – Rede VIH

É ilegal ser normal – Antra

Brazil’s #1 Puta – Museum of sex

Morre uma das grandes lideranças na luta contra a Aids – Depto DST

Adeus, Gabriela Leite – Brasil em pauta

Press News

Morre Gabriela Leite, fundadora da Daspu e defensora das prostitutas – Revista Fórum

Morre Gabriela Leite, a criadora da Daspu – O Globo

Morre Gabriela Leite, fundadora da Daspu – Último Segundo

– See more at:

Audience enthusiastic at the Margaret Mead Film Festival

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A Kiss for Gabriela played to a packed house at the Margaret Mead Film Festival at the Museum of Natural History during the afternoon of October 19, 2013. The documentary was shown as part of the Emerging Visual Anthropologists Showcase. Ram Devineni of Rattapallax and Rafa Silva, Gabriela’s stepson, responded to audience questions after the screening that ranged from how the documentary was filmed to the details of Gabriela’s organizing for sex worker rights. Many in the audience hoped to one day see a feature length film about Gabriela’s legacy.


Ram and Rafa

Farewell to Gabriela Leite: Daughter, Mother, Grandmother, Whore Revolutionary and Dear Friend

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Gabriela Leite passed away yesterday October 10, 2013. She died as she had lived, surrounded by loved ones, strong and clear, always Gabriela. We ask you to remember her, the amazing and inspiring person she was, by hearing her words and going out into the world to fight for justice. Don’t stop until we have justice for all, for prostitutes, for sex workers.

“Every decision I’ve ever made, including the decision to be a prostitute, is linked to a desire to take action and be free.” Gabriela Leite, 2013



The most important thing to know about Gabriela Leite

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What should you know about Gabriela Leite to understand the documentary?

Here, Gabriela herself responds to this question in an interview conducted with her in April of 2013: