A Danish cabinet minister has come out as bisexual.
Tommy Ahlers, who has been the Minister of Science, Technology, Information and Higher Education since May, made the announcement after years of speculation.
Denmark has long been one of the most advanced countries in the world in terms of LGBT rights, but attacks still occur, like in May when Justice Minister Søren Pape Poulsen’s fiance Josue Medina Vazquez was violently confronted.
In an interview with Danish magazine Euroman, Ahlers said that he was coming out publicly at the age of 42 because his position as a minister meant he could not hide any part of himself.
“When people mention that they have heard a rumour, I explain to them that it is not a rumour, because there is no touch of fiction in it,” he said about gossip that he is sexually interested in men.
“But the truth is also that I have come to the conclusion that I like both men and women.”
Ahlers, who has two children from a straight marriage which ended in 2012, said that for four years after his divorce, “I thought I was exclusively into men.
“But then the opposite sex pulled in me again, just as it did when I met my children’s mother.
“And then I was on some dates with some different women and thought it was equally interesting and amazing. And a year ago, last summer, I met a girl who I’m so glad I’m still seeing.”
The politician made his name as the CEO of social networking site ZYB – which was sold to Vodafone for around $50 million in 2008 – but felt there was now a need for him, as a representative of the people, to be more open with them.
At least, he said, it would put a stop to the gossip swirling around about him.
“There is talk out there that continues to be untrue,” said Ahlers. “Many people talk about it, but no-one can find the source. It automatically creates curiosity for people.”
He added: “I feel I have to get it out and over once and for all… I do not like if people think I’m trying to hide something.”
The minister dismissed the idea that he could have just never come out of the closet publicly, saying that “obviously there is a need for it. It’s not because I want to sit and talk about my sexuality.
“It should be a private matter,” he said, adding that the “is he or is he not?” rumours made it a necessary step.
Before joining Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen’s government, Ahlers was also a judge on the Danish version of Dragons’ Den, which is called Lion’s Den.
In May, French government minister Mounir Mahjoubi, who at 33 serves as Secretary of State for the Digital Sector, came out as gay in a landmark moment.
And last year, Australian Senator Penny Wong, the first openly gay woman to sit in Parliament, went viral with her response to conservative opponent Ian Macdonald, who repeatedly interrupted her.
Wong, who leads the Opposition in the Senate, clapped back: “Senator Macdonald really does have an unhealthy obsession with me, but I digress.”
After Macdonald challenged her comment, she quipped: “You’re not my type either mate, don’t worry about it.”