After Missouri state Sen. Bob Dixon (R) launched his campaign for governor of Missouri last week, he was forced to address details about his past that resurfaced on Friday.
Dixon, who is now married to a woman and had three children with her, revealed in 1991 that he had identified as gay for five years until a “religious experience” led him to be straight again, according to a 1992 report from the Springfield News-Leader, which was resurfaced last week by the Riverfront Times.
When Dixon addressed reports last week, he said that he was abused a child, which led to “confusion” when he was a teenager.
In 1991, Dixon told attendees at a Springfield, Mo., city council meeting about his time as a gay man, but did not elaborate on his “religious experience,” which he said happened in October 1988, according to the News-Leader.
The Riverfront Times resurfaced Dixon’s 1991 remarks on Friday after the state senator noted in his campaign launch that he has “spent almost 23 years as a strong supporter of traditional marriage.”
Dixon’s mother, former Missouri state Rep. Janet Dixon told the Springfield News-Leader in 1992 that her son’s “struggles” nearly led him to attempt suicide.
“It had been a heartache I had to deal with, and it was a tough one,” she said.
Dixon has not discussed his five years as a gay man much as a legislator — he has served 15 years in the Missouri state legislature, first as a representative and then as a state senator. But he again acknowledged that he once identified as gay in a Friday night statement to St. Louis Public Radio, noting that abuse while he was a child led him to temporarily identify as gay.
“Through the years, I have publicly spoken about being abused as a child and the confusion this caused me as a teenager,” Dixon wrote. “There are literally thousands of Missourians who will understand how heartbreaking childhood abuse can be — though few might be willing to acknowledge it.”
“I have put the childhood abuse, and the teenage confusion behind me. What others intended for harm has resulted in untold good,” he continued.
He did not elaborate on the abuse in his Friday statement, and instead detailed his commitment to child abuse issues as a legislator.
“I have overcome, and will not allow evil to win. From passing the Child Witness Protection Act, to protecting children from those who would do harm to them from the shadows of the internet, and to reforming Missouri’s Criminal Code — I have consistently worked to treat all people with respect, understanding, and compassion, and to bring people together, not divide them,” he said in the statement to St. Louis Public Radio.
In the statement, Dixon also criticized aggressive campaign tactics.
“There are people who to this day try to turn politics into a blood sport. This sort of approach discourages many good people from public service,” he said. “While it is disappointing, I will have no fear of those who wish to tear down others for their gain. I will have no part of it.”
Dixon, who has worked in banking and financial services, was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in 2002 and then elected as a state senator in 2010. He also serves as an adjunct instructor for the Leadership Studies Program at Drury University, the school where he received his bachelor’s and masters degrees.