No, Emmanuel Macron is not gay and secretly dating his bodyguard.
The French President cleared up bizarre rumours about his sexual orientation in a statement to French MPs back in late July.
“Alexandre Benalla has never earned €10,000, neither has Alexandre Benalla ever been my lover,” he said.
Now, if you don’t follow French politics, you might be wondering why a head of state is denying affairs or homosexuality rumours and why he is even addressing questions regarding his bodyguard, Alexandre Benalla.
Welcome to the French political scandal of the summer: The Benalla affair (L’affaire Benalla).
The Benalla Affair
The scandal involving Macron began in July when a video of bodyguard Benalla emerged. Benalla was seen manhandling protesters during a May Day demonstration. One detail in the video didn’t escape the French public: Benalla was wearing police gear (badge, helmet, radio) when he’s not a police officer.
In one video, the guard was seen hitting a protester repeatedly. In a second video, he tries to forcefully pin a woman to the ground.
Both videos were released by the French newspaper Le Monde on July 18 and July 20.
Who is Alexandre Benalla?
Following the release of these two videos, the unknown bodyguard quickly became the centrepiece of a political scandal. Why was he wearing police gear and was he sanctioned for this rough treatment of demonstrators?
Revelation after revelation followed. The bodyguard, who ensured the president’s security, lived at the Elysée—the palace that is home to the president—and benefited from many advantages, including cars and a high salary.
Another detail that emerged is that while he was a security officer to Macron, Benalla presented himself as deputy to the Immediate Office of the President, a role with bigger responsibilities.
Another question on everyone’s lips was how much did the president know about his conduct at the May Day demonstration?
The controversy grows
A spokesperson for the Immediate Office for the President explained Benalla was meant to “observe police officers” in order to see how big demonstrations were handled by authorities.
A spokesperson for l’Elysée said that Benalla had been punished following the incident and put on unpaid leave for 15 days. He also added that Benalla had been put on desk duty.
However, pictures surfaced showing Benalla with Macron at different events during the months of May and June, suggesting he had got away with a slap on the wrist and no real punitive measures. The French public was outraged.
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The French Minister of the Interior, Gerard Collomb, said he knew of the incident as early as May 2, however, he told a parliament committee that he thought it was the responsibility of the Elysée and Paris’ police prefect to take necessary measures.
Following the uproar, Benalla was fired from his position at the Elysée on July 20.
On July 22, Benalla was placed under formal investigation by the public prosecutor of Paris alongside four other policemen who acted as accomplices.
Given the advantages he benefited from and his close relationship with the president, rumours of an affair between Macron and Benalla were shared online, perhaps leading to Macron’s denial in July.
It’s not the first time Macron has had to deny gay rumours. Back in 2017, while on the campaign trail, dispelled rumours he had an affair with Mathieu Gallet, the then-head of Radio France.
Macron, who’s been married to his wife Brigitte since 2007, addressed the rumours head on.
“I am who I am, I have never had anything to hide,” he told a meeting of supporters in Paris in February 2017.
“I hear people saying that I have a secret life or something. It’s not nice for Brigitte (his wife) and because I share all my days and nights with her, she asks me how do I manage it,” he said.
“If over dinners in the city, if on forwarded emails, you’re told that I have a double life with Mathieu Gallet or anyone else – then it’s my hologram that suddenly escaped, but it can’t be me,” he joked.