A Brazilian governor and possible presidential candidate came out as gay Friday, causing a stir in a country experiencing an ultra-conservative wave under President Jair Bolsonaro, known for his homophobic comments.
"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," Eduardo Leite, the governor of Rio Grande do Sul state, told the Globo broadcaster in an interview broadcast Friday.
"I am gay, I am a gay governor," the 36-year-old said, adding: "And I am proud of it."
Leite chose Pride Week in Brazil to address gossip swirling around him ever since he became a potential presidential candidate for the PSDB social democratic party for elections in October 2022
"Now with my participation in national politics, in this national debate, there have been ever-growing attacks by my rivals," he said.
"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," he said.
According to the O Globo newspaper, this is the first time a presidential candidate has come out in Brazil.
His statement quickly became a dominant discussion point on social media, with many hailing Leite's "courage."
"Admiration and respect for my friend @EduardoLeite_" tweeted Sao Paulo governor Joao Doria, another PSDB presidential candidate.
Latin America's largest country is known for a strong culture of machismo and overt homophobia, not least on the part of Bolsonaro, who once declared he would rather his son die than be gay.