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Brazilian governor and presidential candidate Eduardo Leite came out as gay during a TV interview last week.
A critic of President Jair Bolsonaro, Leite is the governor of the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul. He would be the first openly gay presidential candidate in the South American country, according to Reuters.
Before the pandemic, Leite, 36, had been a supporter of Bolsonaro. However, Leite has heavily criticized Bolsonaro's response to COVID-19.
"I have never spoken about a subject related to my private life," Leite said Thursday in an interview with Brazilian journalist Pedro Bial on TV Globo.
"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 U.S. was a president who was Black, not a Black president. And I am proud of that."
Leite will run for the social democratic party PSDB's primaries to be held in November. The winner will be the center-right party's presidential candidate for 2022.
The potential candidate wrote a message of thanks to his supporters on Twitter, writing "The countless messages of affection and support that I'm receiving leave me absolutely convinced: love will conquer hate."
\u201cAs in\u00fameras mensagens de carinho e apoio que estou recebendo me deixam absolutamente seguro: o amor vai vencer o \u00f3dio! Muito muito muito obrigado a todos! \u2764\ufe0f\u201d— Eduardo Leite (@Eduardo Leite) 1625189270
The first openly gay member of Brazil's congress, Jean Wyllys, condemned Leite's past approval of Bolsonaro, reported The Guardian.
"This chap had many opportunities to defend the LGBT community and he didn't. On the contrary ... he was a Bolsonarista until yesterday - and he's probably still one today because at no point has he retracted his support for Bolsonaro. So I don't celebrate this."
On Friday Bolsonaro told his supporters that Leite came out as a "business card" for the upcoming elections, according to Reuters.
"I have nothing against his private life, but he cannot impose his lifestyle on others," Bolsonaro said. Bolsonaro has previously claimed he is a "proud homophobe" and has repeatedly made derogatory statements about the LGBTQ+ community.
Last month, Bolsonaro said that Leite may have hidden federal resources in his anus, according to The Guardian.
Leite said he is considering filing a complaint about the remark.