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Newly out governor promises to run against Brazil’s rabidly homophobic president

Eduardo Leite, Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil, gay governor, right-wing
Eduardo Leite

Eduardo Leite, the 36-year-old governor of the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, came out as gay late last week. He has also pledged to run against Jair Bolsonaro, the country’s rabidly anti-LGBTQ president.

Leite came out during his country’s Pride week in an interview with the talk show Conversa com Bial. He is his country’s first out gay governor, though rumors about his sexuality have existed for a while. In fact, last month, Bolsnaro said that Leite hid federal resources in his backside. The remark made Leite file a criminal complaint against the president.

Related: Brazil’s supreme court just made LGBTQ discrimination illegal despite presidential objections

“I’m gay,” Leite said in his coming-out interview, “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… I go out to dinner with my boyfriend, I do not hide from anyone. But there has always been some brouhaha, some allusion, a joke from the president, attacks from other politicians. This is not right, it is not correct, it is not tolerable.”

Some LGBTQ Brazilians are hailing Leite’s coming out, and his past support of same-sex marriage, as an antidote to Bolsonaro’s Trumpian politics and queerphobia. However, others have pointed out that Leite is also a member of the center-right Brazilian Social Democratic Party. Leite also endorsed Bolsonaro during the president’s 2018 campaign and has yet to withdraw that endorsement.

Nevertheless, he’d still likely be an improvement over Bolsonaro’s staunchly opposition to LGBTQ equality.

In 2013, Bolsonaro proclaimed, “Yes, I am homophobic — and very proud of it.” He has said that he’d rather his son die in an accident than be gay. He has advocated that parents should beat being gay out of their children. In 2017, he said that he’d never have a gay son because his family has “a good education.” He also promised to ban schools from mentioning LGBTQ people because it’s a threat to the country’s Christian values.  A 2019 U.S. petition against Bolsonaro called him a “well-documented bigot.”

Brazil’s presidential election will occur in 2022.

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