Brazilian governor and potential major party presidential candidate Eduardo Leite has come out as gay in a TV interview. He is one of the prominent critics of current President Jair Bolsonaro, who has openly espoused anti-gay rhetoric. Thus, Leite has become the country's first potential gay presidential candidate of Brazil.
During a TV interview, speaking to Brazilian journalist Pedro Bial, Leite told that he had never spoken about a subject related to his personal life. "But during this moment of low integrity in Brazil, I have nothing to hide, I am gay. I am a governor who is gay, not a gay governor, as former President Obama in the US was a president who was Black, not a Black president. And I am proud of that," said Leite.
Reacting to Leite's announcement, Bolsonaro told that Leite was trying to use his coming out as a "business card" for the presidential campaign. "I have nothing against his private life, but he cannot impose his lifestyle on others," Bolsonaro said.
However, Leite's announcement received mixed responses online. He took to Twitter to express his gratitude for those who reached out in encouragement following his announcement. "[This] makes me absolutely sure: love will conquer hate," Leite tweeted.
Bolsonaro Supporter Turning Critic
It can be noted that Leite had supported Bolsonaro in the second round of Brazil's 2018 elections. But he switched sides following Bolsonaro's management of COVID pandemic, which has been criticized not only by the people of the country but also by international leaders. Moreover, in a stark contrast to Leite, Bolsonaro had called himself a proud homophobe and has continuously bashed the LGBTQ community.
Bolsonaro had even told in an earlier interview that if he had a gay son, he would rather wished the child had died in an accident. Throughout his career of three decades, Bolsonaro has not only criticized the LGBT community but even dubbed violence against them as sob stories. "Homosexuals recruit heterosexual children to fulfil their sexual desires and no father would ever take pride in having a gay son," Bolsonaro had told in an interview in 2013.
Leite is currently the governor of Rio Grande do Sul. He is the member of the social democratic party PSDB. The 36-year-old governor will contest as a candidate in the PSDB primaries scheduled for November to choose the presidential candidate for the 2022 elections. He will be competing against Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria, Senator Tasso Jereissati and former Senator Arthur Virgílio in the primaries.