‘I’m a woman, black, from the favela and bisexual’, says queen of Rio Carnival 2023


Ana Cora Lima

Mariana Ribeiro, better known as Mari Mola, is proud to be a woman, black and a resident of the favela. Recently elected Queen of Carnival in Rio 2023, she also makes a point of exalting her sexual orientation. Mari, 25, is the first holder of the position to publicly assume that she has relationships with men and women. A bisexual Queen is unprecedented in the 55 years of the contest promoted by the city of Rio, which also elects King Momo.

“I never hid my orientation, but I know that for many people it is still a shock to see a passista in a relationship with another woman. Unfortunately, we carry a stigma that ‘we attack men’ and going against this label sounds like something amazing, right? But I’m not the only one,” she says, aware that she has served as an example for other women in samba, a historically sexist milieu. “When I was elected, several girls came to tell me that they felt stronger to get rid of the shackles and relate to whoever they want.”

The “Royal Court” of Rio’s carnival is formed by King Momo and the Queen, in addition to two princesses. King Momo is inspired by the character of Greek mythology “Momos”, who personified irony and sarcasm and, in Brazil, the figure was adapted for revelry. The Carioca Carnival officially begins on the day the mayor of Rio hands over the keys to the city to King Momo and the Queen.

Mari says that there were comments that she could harm herself by declaring herself bisexual and was positively surprised by the (non)reaction of people to her revelation. “So far, everything has been peaceful. The truth is always the best way and I’m not here to raise flags either. Simply because I don’t need to. These flags are in me. I am a woman, black, from the favela and LGBTQIA+ with the greatest pride” .

Being smiling is part of the requirements for the position of Queen of Carnival, but Mari is serious when it comes to prejudice and the lack of female sorority, as she felt in her skin during the time she worked at a school as an Early Childhood Education teacher. There she heard some barbarities.

“I received comments from mothers wanting to know if I taught classes with the costumes that appeared on my networks. They were photos of my look as a passista. Another thing, of course. It was hard”, he says. Mari currently only works with samba, teaching and performing in concerts throughout Brazil.

She wants more and already has very short-term plans. “As soon as Carnival is over, I’m going back to studying to enroll in the History faculty. I’m into samba and I want to understand and delve deeper into this universe.”

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