PORT OF SPAIN – “No, I am not a lesbian.”
That was the firm response of president-elect Paula-Mae Weekes yesterday as she sought to put to rest questions, raised on social media, about her sexual orientation in light of the fact that she has never been married or had any children.
Speaking to the T&T Guardian in a one-on-one interview, Weekes said she was “fascinated” that some people would be more interested in her sexual orientation than her character and ability to do the job as this country’s next head of State.
“Somebody drew to my attention a photograph that was a composite of me and another person and saying that I was a homosexual and I wondered ‘well how did they arrive there, based on what?’ But you know you can’t really spend any of your valuable time looking at those things,” Weekes said.
“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.”
Weekes believes that at the end of the day people will realize what really matters is whether or not she can get the job done effectively.
However, Weekes, who has a Facebook account, admitted the social media site is a “savage world”. It was there questions about her sexual orientation were raised.
As a result of this, the T&T Guardian asked Weekes whether or not she is a lesbian.
“No I’m not, but you know what fascinated me is why were they going there at all? Why did they think it necessary to either find that out, or make up their own story,” Weekes said.
“I was just fascinated as to why that was of interest. It didn’t offend me, you ask me a question and I would give you an answer, but 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.”
But Weekes admitted that sometimes people “major in the superficial”.
“We major in the superficial, I don’t think it is peculiarly Trinidadian but I think we have to face it. I think questions of character were far more important,” she said.
Weekes is also of the view that all citizens of Trinidad and Tobago should face equal treatment no matter, their sexual orientation, gender or race.
“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.
When Weekes is inaugurated as this country’s sixth president one of the people who will me missing is her brother Robert. Robert, who was her only sibling, passed away in 2000 at the age of 37. He died as a result of kidney failure caused by HIV.
“He first manifested symptoms in 1998 and then he had an easy period and then in 2000 things took a turn for the worse,” Weekes said.
“I was not particularly impressed with our experience in the public health sector. I really have not been following sufficiently to know if things have changed, I hope they have, I hope there is a lot more education, there is a lot more awareness among the professionals there, as well as among the population, but I must say I have not been following closely those developments over the years.”
Robert’s death caused Weekes to eventually complete not one but four international marathons.
“Oddly enough, it was the Christmas after my brother died. I was just sitting down watching the TV one day feeling down and blue and I saw an advertisement, there were two people talking, a husband and wife, about having entered the marathon and I thought ‘yeah I could do that’ so I talked to a few people and the first reaction was ‘you mad or what’ and then eventually I got about 12 people and we started training, we got a schedule online and that was it,” Weekes said.
“We did three years straight then we took a year off and then we did the fourth one.”
Weekes said a marathon is also a good metaphor for life.
“I’ve seen written after I started running that it is a metaphor for life and it really is. When you feel ‘oh my God I can’t go another step’ you tell yourself, ‘all right just make it to that lamppost and we will see where you go after that’ and that is what it was,” Weekes said.
Unfortunately, Weekes says a bad back and bad knees will not allow her to do a fifth one.