North Dakota state Rep. Randy Boehning (R) said he was outed as being gay after he voted against a gay rights bill, the Forum newspaper in Fargo, N.D. reported on Monday.
Boehning, 52, told the site that a personal text exchange using the gay dating app “Grindr” was made public as retribution for his vote. Boehning also alleged that an employee at the Capitol told him another lawmaker had promised to out him if he voted against the bill, according to the Forum.
The personal exchange was made public when Dustin Smith, a man who’d spoken with Boehning on Grindr, reportedly recognized a photo of him in an article published in The Forum newspaper. The April 3 cover story displayed photos of all of the lawmakers who had voted against the bill outlawing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Smith, 21, contacted the paper more than two weeks ago and reportedly revealed that Boehning went under the alias “Top Man!” on the dating site. According to Smith, he has no connections to the Capitol and was not coerced into exposing Boehning but rather decided to step forward because he thought it was hypocritical for Boehning to vote against a gay rights bill, the Forum reported.
Boehning, who initially refused to comment on the messages, confirmed to the paper on Saturday that he was “Top Man!” and that he had sent a graphic image to Smith.
“That’s what gay guys do on gay sites, don’t they?” Boehning told the newspaper. “That’s how things happen on Grindr. It’s a gay chat site. It’s not the first thing you do on that site. That’s what we do, exchange pics on the site.”
Boehning refused to reveal the name of the person who informed him that he’d be targeted for his vote or the name of the lawmaker who allegedly targeted him because there could be ramifications for those involved.
“This isn’t something I take lightly,” Boehning said.
Boehning also told the paper that, while many of his family members and friends don’t know he’s gay, he’s relieved to no longer have to worry about being outed.
“The 1,000-pound gorilla has been lifted,” he said. “I have to confront it at some point.”