“Yes, I am gay,” Congressman Carlos Bruce proclaimed during an interview with the Perúvian newspaper, El Comercio, “and I am proud to belong to this group of people who are so valuable to Perú.” Bruce is now Perú’s first openly gay congressman and since he has two grown sons, Alex and Paul, he’s also the country’s first openly gay parent in congress.
Bruce is probably best known for introducing a bill in congress last September to legalize same-sex civil unions. Shortly after the bill was proposed, Lima Archbishop Juan Luís Cipriani Thorne publicly came forward to denounce the measure.
“No, I don’t approve of this,” said Thorne, who questioned Bruce’s sexuality even though the congressman was not out at the time. “If a person has made some alternate choices, that’s their problem and he can do whatever he wants on his own,” explained Thorne. “But I don’t think that we’ve elected congress people just so they can justify their own life choices. I don’t think that’s right.”
Months after the archbishop’s negative comments, Bruce decided it was time to finally come out of the closet and help eliminate stereotypes associated with being gay in Perú. Prior to going public, he spoke with his family and received the full support of his children. “Many people believe that this means it’s impossible for me to be a good father, or that, because I’m gay, I can’t serve my country,” Bruce explained, “However, I’ve been doing just that for 12 years. This is a good time to take down that image.”
Bruce, a member of the centrist Possible Perú Alliance who represents Lima, also took the time to reiterate his criticism of the Archbishop of Lima. “He does not respond with ideas, only with personal attacks,” Bruce told El Comercio. “I am sure that he is homophobic. He should be more tolerant. There are leaders from the evangelical church who support the bill.”
Last April, a Perúvian advocacy group by the name of Lima Homosexual Movement, helped organize a petition with other organizations in favor of allowing civil unions for same-sex couples. The organization sent the signatures to Congressman Bruce after receiving 10,000 signatures. Now, those organizations are celebrating Bruce’s announcement.
“Today Carlos became our country’s first openly gay congressman,” Giovanny Romero Infante, executive director of the Lima Homosexual Movement told the Washington Blade. “He is an inspiration to millions of LTGB young people that are no longer afraid. He is our brave representative.”