A presidential hopeful in Brazil just came out as gay.
In a recent interview with Globo, Eduardo Leite, the governor of the southernmost Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, opened up about his sexuality, making the 36-year-old the first known out gay candidate for the presidency of Brazil. Leite is hoping to unseat current president Jair Bolsonaro, who recently used an anti-gay slur against Leite, in next year's election.
“In this Brazil of little integrity, at this time, we have to debate who we are, so that everything is clear and there is nothing to hide,” Leite said in the interview. “I’m gay – and I’m a governor who is gay rather than a gay governor. Just as Obama in the United States wasn’t a black president, but a president who was black. And I’m proud of this.”
While his coming out was welcomed by many, others noted Leite’s past support of the homophobic Bolsonaro during the 2018 election.
“I don’t celebrate this,” Jean Wyllys, an out gay activist, politician, and former MP, told The Guardian, noting that “this chap [Leite] had many opportunities to defend the LGBT community and he didn’t.”
Leite is a member of the center-right Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB), the third-largest political party in the country. The PSDB was founded in 1988, but had its roots in the opposition movement to the military dictatorships of the 1970s. The party as a whole supported Bolsonaro in the last election but is currently divided over whether to support him again in the upcoming 2022 elections or field their own candidate. With his candidacy, Leite is hoping to win the support of his party rather than letting it go to Bolsonaro again.
Last month, the Brazilian president said Leite might have hidden missing federal funds “elsewhere,” generally believed by many to be an anti-gay slur meant to suggest Leite had concealed the funds in his rectum. Bolsonaro is known for such hateful comments, such as when he welcomed gay tourists to Brazil, but only if they had sex with a woman.
Brazil’s first out gay senator, Fabiano Contarato, congratulated Leite on Twitter for his courage.
While his candidacy is seen as a major step forward for the LGBTQ+ community in the country, Leite has been given little chance of winning next year. Recent polling shows former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva would win the election against Bolsonaro. The election is scheduled to take place October 2, 2022.