Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Belgium Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo

Belgium held a national election last summer, but it was only this week that the European debt crisis forced the formation of a coalition government. Leading that coalition come Monday will be the quietly gay head of the Socialist Party, Elio Di Rupo.

The real problem Di Rupo will face is not that he’s gay, but that he speaks very poor Dutch. Mr. Di Rupo, the son of an Italian immigrant, is committed to cutting 11.3 billion euros from the national budget. He has also promised to improve his spoken Dutch, which is glaringly weak in a country where officials and politicians routinely are fluent in both of the country’s main languages. Mr. Di Rupo’s English is also weak.

“If you’re looking for public support for a government, it may be a problem when the leader of that government has difficulty speaking the language of the majority,” said Yves Leterme, the caretaker prime minister who will yield to Mr. Di Rupo (no sour grapes intended, I'm sure).

At 60, Di Rupo will be Belgium's first French-speaking prime minister in 30 years, a rare center-left voice in a European Union that has veered right, and one of few out gay world leaders. He's also the first Socialist to take the premiership in Belgium since 1974. But the fact that he speaks poor Dutch is a serious problem in a country where language is so important and so fiercely protected that, in areas of Dutch-speaking Flanders, town council meetings can find their decisions annulled if anyone is heard to utter a word of French.


  1. Flemish not Dutch is spoken in Belgium, as well as French.

    1. From your blogger:
      Belgium has three official languages: Dutch, French, and German. A number of non-official, minority languages and dialects are spoken as well. English is widely spoken throughout the country as a second or third language by native Belgians. English is the working language for many of the international institutions and multinationals in Brussels, Gent, and Bruges. Flemish is a Dutch dialect spoken in Belgium.

  2. His Dutch is approved and he is a good leader!