A Republican state senate candidate who supported North Carolina’s ban on gay marriage once worked as a female impersonator at a gay nightclub, the Winston-Salem Journal reported Saturday.
Real estate agent Steve Wiles, 34, went by “Mona Sinclair” when he worked at the now-closed Club Odyssey in the early 2000s, according to the club’s co-owner and another former employee. Wiles’ former co-workers claim he was gay at the time and was a frequent visitor at the nightclub before he began working there.
Wiles denied that he worked as Mona Sinclair in interviews with the Winston-Salem Journal, and responded “no” when the newspaper asked whether he was gay.
But Wiles also appears as Mona Sinclair in a cached version of the Miss Gay America website. The cached webpage said that Wiles was suspended from the organization for “conduct unbecoming to a promoter of the Miss Gay America pageant system.”
Wiles campaigned for North Carolina’s constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in 2012, according to the Winston Salem-Journal.
The state senate candidate spoke to Business Insider after the Winston-Salem Journal report was published and argued that he doesn’t believe being against gay marriage is equal to being anti-gay.
“I don’t really understand how you can separate the fact that marriage is a religious institution,” he said.
As for whether he considers himself an ex-gay, Wiles told Business Insider he didn’t want to comment on that. He said that he views his past as a drag queen as an “embarrassment,” but told Business Insider that it wouldn’t stop his campaign.
“I learned a lot of lessons, some of them, well most of them, the
hard way,” he told the website. “That’s generally how I learned, but I did
learn from my mistakes. That’s something that I wish I could say for
some of my GOP rivals.”
Image via Facebook
This post has been updated.