Paula-Mae Weekes is set to be the sixth president (and first female president) of Trinidad and Tobago. In recent weeks, the 59-year-old, who is not married and has no children, has been confronted with rumors about her sexuality. The career civil servant took the rumors in stride and deftly pivoted the conversation.
In an interview with the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian, Weekes expressed dismay that her sexuality had become a topic of conversation at all, and said that even if she were a lesbian, it shouldn’t be an issue.
“To me, what is important will float to the surface, people will see it for what it is, and what is unimportant will fall by the wayside,” she explained, adding that a person’s sexuality shouldn’t matter to others, even if said person is a public figure.
“I was just fascinated as to why that was of interest,” she said. “I just couldn’t understand why of all the things you would want to know about the person who is likely to be your next president is that, I should think there are far more important things that you would need to know.”
As pointed out on social media, there are, in fact, far more interesting points of discussion about Weekes, such as her interest in improving the country’s public health system after losing her brother to HIV, and her desire to improve the lives of young people in Trinidad and Tobago. Due to her history as a former educator and judge, Weekes has expressed interest in guiding and supporting young people in the Caribbean nation who frequently come from difficult domestic situations and have nowhere to turn.
Per Pink News, while Trinidad and Tobago is more progressive than some other Caribbean nations in terms of LGBTQ rights, there are still a slew of laws, including legislation that prohibits sex between two males, that discriminate against LGBTQ people. According to Equaldex, same-sex marriages aren’t recognized and donating blood is banned.
Per her interview, Weekes herself is a proponent of LGBTQ rights. “I think in terms of the state and the law all citizens and all persons under the protection of our jurisdiction should have equal treatment whatever their gender, whatever their sexual orientation, whatever their race we need to have absolute equality across the board in terms of state obligations and constitutional rights,” she said.
Cover image via rj lerich / Shutterstock.