Contrary to some American gays’ beliefs, Greece isn’t exactly a magical land where people drop everything to sing and dance along to ABBA songs at a moment’s notice.
In fact, the country—governed by conservative Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis since 2019—has been besot with its fair share of economic and social woes of late, and it still doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage.
So, it came as a shock when, over the weekend, gay entrepreneur Stefanos Kasselakis was elected as the leader of Greece’s left-leaning opposition party, Syriza, becoming the first openly LGBTQ+ individual to hold the position in the organization’s history.
Even more unprecedented is the fact that, at 35, Kasselakis is relatively young and inexperienced, a former businessman labeled as a “political outsider.” International news outlets like The Guardian have heralded his out-of-nowhere victory as “stunning,” while Al Jazeera reports that some see it “as a breath of fresh air for a [struggling] party.”
Born in Greece in a town northeast of Athens, Kasselakis would eventually accept a scholarship that moved him to the U.S. to attend Phillips Academy prep school in Massachusetts. He’d go on to graduate from the Wharton business school at the University Of Pennsylvania, and even spent time volunteering for then-Senator Joe Biden‘s campaign in the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries.
After college, he stayed stateside and worked for Goldman Sachs, the Center for Strategic and International Studies in D.C, and later founded his own shipping company, Swift Bulk.
The out gay 38-year-old, who went by the moniker Héctor de Silva in movies like ‘Star Wars: A Gay XXX Parody,’ won by just 12 votes.
During this time, he met and married an American nurse named Tyler McBeth. Per The Guardian, the couple only relocated to Athens, Greece just a few months ago, where their relationship is currently recognized as a civil partnership. With his platform, Kasselakis has vowed to legalize same-sex marriage in Greece.
Throughout the campaign, McBeth has remained right at his husband’s side. The Guardian reports that, during Kasselakis’ victory speech, he referred to his partner as his “personal family” and said to the crowd: “Thank you from the bottom of my heart for welcoming him and embracing him.”
Back in August, on McBeth’s 32nd birthday, Kasselakis posted Instagram photos of the two of them together, writing, “When you find someone with a great heart and innate kindness, you try to love them as much as they deserve.”
As the new leader of Syriza, Kasselakis replaces Alexis Tsipras, who resigned from his party role in June. Formerly, Tsipras led the country as its prime minister from 2015-19, but was ousted by the more right-leaning New Democracy party, led by current prime minister Mitsotakis.
Now, Kasselakis believes he has what it takes to defeat Mitsotakis in the next election, relying on his business experience and savvy social strategy to best the incumbent. If he wins, Kasselakis would become Greece’s first openly LGBTQ+ prime minister in history.
If your kink is running into shirtless elected officials in public, you were in luck this year at Folsom!
Speaking over the weekend to a crowd of his champions and supporters, Kasselakis vowed: “I am not a phenomenon. I am the voice of society. I’m never going to betray you. Syriza is here and will stay here, and will win from now on.”
While Mitsotakis has also promised to legalize same-sex marriage as recently as July, we’ll be curious to see how Kasselakis political rise continues to bring about social change and LGBTQ+ protections in Greece.