- Beleaguered Rep. George Santos campaigned as an ultra-conservative.
- A drag performer who knew him in the mid-2000s told Insider that Santos supported Brazil’s left-wing president at the time.
- Santos now faces scrutiny for multiple fabrications about his past.
A Brazilian drag performer who says she met George Santos while dressing in drag in Brazil remembers the congressman during his younger years as a supporter of the country’s progressive president, not the ultra-conservative politician he claims to be now.
Artist Eula Rochard made headlines for circulating a photo she says is of Santos in a red dress.
But in an interview with Insider, she said what puzzles her is how Santos went from backing left-wing President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, known as “Lula,” to his current political incarnation.
Rochard said that Santos supported Lula and then “he goes to the United States and becomes crazy there. How crazy is this?”
Santos, who represents parts of Queens and Long Island, now supports former President Donald Trump and policies seen as anti-LGBTQ. He has accused the left of trying to “groom” children, a conservative talking point that equates discussion of gender and sexuality with grooming for sexual abuse.
But in the mid-2000s, Rochard endorsed a Brazilian president who one expert said had more in common, at least in economic policy, with the progressive politics of Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Rochard said that many gay people living in the city of Niterói at the time supported Lula, a left-wing reformer who served as Brazil’s president from 2003 to 2010 and was just re-elected for a third term, starting this year. month.
“Lula promised to make laws to help us gays. They were all lulistas and Anthony too because he was dating us,” Rochard told Insider, using the name Rochard says Santos used in Brazil, “Anthony.”
It is not surprising that Santos, as a gay person, has supported Lula in the 2000s, said Rafael Ioris, a professor of Latin American history at the University of Denver. Lula represented the opportunity for the expansion of civil rights for minority groups in Brazil, and most members of the LGBTQ community were aligned with that perspective, he said.
It’s hard to imagine a member of the current Republican Party in the US siding with Lula, even as he became more moderate while in office. Lula is a former union member who built his political career on policies similar to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party: a higher minimum wage and spending more on health care and education.
Senator Bernie Sanders tweeted his Congratulations Lula in October when he defeated far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, whose supporters this month stormed government buildings, refusing to accept the results.
“It’s quite a dramatic change,” Ioris said of Santos. People change, he said, but “how did that happen?”
It’s one of many questions swirling around Santos, who is at the center of a scandal over lies on his resume, falsely claiming his mother died on 9/11, and the unexplained wealth that helped finance his run for Congress. .
Freelance journalist Marisa Kabas broke the story in a Substack post about Santos dressing in drag under the name Kitara in the mid-2000s. Rochard also told Kabas that Santos’s friends in Brazil were left-wing.
Santos, whose staff did not respond to a request for comment, at first denied that he was performing as a drag queen, but later told reporters: “I was young and having fun at a festival. Sue me for having a life.” Since then, more videos have surfaced, suggesting it was more than just the one time.
Rochard met Santos when he was about 17 years old and said he used to catch Santos in “little white lies”. She said that she wanted to be famous “no matter what”.
“He wasn’t a bad person,” Rochard said. “He was a normal gay teenager in a country where there were no laws protecting homosexuals.”