Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said last week that he used to be gay, but he “cured” himself with the help of “beautiful women” – outraging LGBT activists.
Duterte, 74, made the revelation during an address to the Filipino community while visiting Tokyo on Thursday. In an apparent demonstration of his heterosexual libido, he concluded the event by kissing several women from the audience on stage.
The president brought up his sexuality to mock political opponent Antonio Trillanes. He said that a gay person had told him that the senator looked gay.
“I said, ‘Are you sure?’ They said, ‘You ask any gay person who sees [him] move, they’ll say he’s gay,'” Duterte said. “No wonder. Good thing Trillanes and I are similar. But I cured myself.”
According to Duterte, the key to conquering his homosexuality was marrying his ex-wife, Elizabeth Zimmerman, 71. Zimmerman was a flight attendant when they wed in 1973. They split in 2000, and Duterte remarried his current wife, Honeylet Avanceña, 49.
“When I began a relationship with Zimmerman, I said, this is it,” Duterte told the crowd. “I became a man again.”
In his three years as president, Duterte has become famous for his irreverent and inflammatory remarks. Sometimes compared to President Donald Trump, he has frequently invoked homosexuality as an insult, using it to describe Communist rebels and Catholic priests. In a 2016 speech, he called the former U.S. ambassador to his country a “gay son of a bitch.”
However, Duterte has reversed his past opposition to same-sex unions, and now supports them. He has also criticized the country’s powerful Roman Catholic Church, saying a priest sexually abused him when he was a teenager.
Duterte’s not the good kind of gay
Still, LGBT activists weren’t ready to celebrate Duterte’s averred sexual journey. The international consensus seemed to be that his remarks – which came ahead of LGBT Pride Month – were harmful to gay people.
Rhadem Camlian Morados, a Filipino gay rights activist and filmmaker, told The New York Times that Duterte had gone too far this time.
“His gay joke was very counterproductive and demeaning, as if there’s a need to ‘pray the gay away’ and that homosexuality is a disease that needs to be cured,” Morados said.
Metro Manila Pride, a Filipino gay rights group, called on Duterte to be an “ally” and “stop using gay people as a punchline.”
Being gay is NOT a disease. There is nothing to cure.
If President Duterte is the ally he claims to be then he needs to stop using gay people as a punchline. https://t.co/zYaPBS90qV
— 🌈Metro Manila Pride (@mmprideorg) May 31, 2019
Jean Freedberg, the Human Rights Campaign’s director of global partnerships, told USA Today that Duterte’s comments were a distraction from his government’s human rights abuses.
“President Rodrigo Duterte’s outrageous remarks are just another attempt to divert attention from his administration’s long record against human rights,” Freedberg said. “Instead of making insulting and often nonsensical remarks about LGBTQ people and marginalized communities, it is high time that he takes action to end the well-documented human rights abuses committed by government and security forces officials across the Philippines.”
Meanwhile, Trillanes, suggested in a statement to The Times that Duterte was still gay and attracted to him.
“By admitting his gay past, I am beginning to be suspicious of the true nature of Duterte’s seeming obsession towards me,” he said. “It’s also entirely possible that his strongman projection is just a front.”
“Whatever, such comments by Duterte show how perverted and sick his mind is,” he added.
Homosexuality and same-sex marriage have subsided as culture wars issues in the United States. However, the nature of gender and sexuality remain flash points.
On the woke left, both characteristics are now said to be fluid and nonbinary. Appeals to biological sex by conservatives and others are seen as akin to hate speech in some quarters. But, on the other hand, so is suggesting that being queer is a choice.