Amado says the support of the meme by LGBTQ people might be about belonging to online fandoms that can’t be discussed with homophobic parents or friends. RuPaul’s Drag Race, for example, has a huge following in Brazil which resulted in an online fandom space for queer experimentation. “People watch these shows and they start liking them but they can’t talk about it with their parents,” Amado explained. “Fans have an interactive dynamic with other fans. And this sense of exchange creates a feeling of belonging which has a direct impact on LGBTQ folks.”

As a Brazilian queer who also loves American pop culture and hung out in the Brazilian Lady Gaga fandom for a few years in my youth, I think Amado’s theory sounds accurate. Additionally, when I was growing up, finding LGBTQ representation in Brazil was a difficult task. Often LGBTQ folks depended on imports from the Global North like Queer as Folk and The L Word to engage with queer content. Today, this is no longer the case. Thankfully LGBTQ folks in Brazil today have many national queer icons that often surpass North American ones. Pop star Pabllo Vittar, for example, is currently the most followed drag queen on Instagram with 22 million followers, almost five times RuPaul’s follower count which stands at a comparatively measly 4.2 million.

In the midst of a pandemic that killed over half a million people in Brazil due to far-right president Jair Bolsonaro’s catastrophic handling of the crisis, it’s probably more difficult than ever to convince pop artists and bands to come to Brazil (and given the correlation between traveling and the spread of new variants, perhaps nobody should be coming to Brazil right now). Unlike in the years of economic boom in the 2000s, Brazil’s image abroad is disastrous. Today, Brazil no longer holds promise for economic expansion, and the country is being managed by a racist, misogynistic, homophobic right-wing demagogue who said Covid-19 vaccines might turn people into alligators.

Even then, the meme can help clarify the difference between Bolsonaro’s nationalism and the nationalism that exists within Brazilian fandoms. Fueled by white supremacy and an adoration for anything and everything from North America, Bolsonaro and his supporters are tearing down the country Brazilians love, trying to sell it off to international agribusiness conglomerates for profit. Bolsonaro’s relationship with the Global North is one of submission, truly reminiscent of Rodrigues’s concept of mongrel syndrome. “Bolsonaro and his supporters suck up to the United States,” Amado explains. “But fans, we know Brazil has so much to give, and we also know that people outside of Brazil don’t necessarily see that or pay attention to our country.”

When Amado puts it like that, the omnipresence of the meme makes much more sense. The constant reminder that Brazil is a worthy destination proliferates because Brazilians are eager to share our culture with people who have the power to uplift it. We know we are deserving of recognition and that Brazil, like many other Global South countries, suffers from invisibility and irrelevancy because of a global power imbalance. Presently, the plea should be taken metaphorically: we are simply letting you know that Brazil is still here—suffering and under hardship, but still here. And perhaps, when the risk of Covid-19 variants subsides, our favorite pop stars and bands will come to Brazil once again.

Nicole Froio is a Colombian-Brazilian journalist, researcher and writer. She writes about pop culture, feminism, inequality, Brazilian politics and news, digital cultures and books. Follow her at @NicoleFroio.