A 21-year-old North Dakota man said this week that he revealed explicit messages sent to him by a Republican lawmaker on the gay dating app Grindr because the legislator had voted against expanding LGBT rights.
Dustin Smith told The Forum that he recognized 52-year-old Republican state Rep. Randy Boehning when he appeared in the news with other lawmakers who had voted against an anti-discrimination bill in the North Dakota House.
“And I was, like, who is that guy? I know I’ve seen him somewhere,” Smith recalled, saying that he eventually realized that Boehning had been the person known as “Top Man!” sending him sexual messages and photographs on Grindr.
“He was making sexual advances, asking me, like, my preferences,” Smith said. “He had asked for provocative photos of me.”
Boehning had also sent images, including one image of his penis that Smith called “rude.”
“I was not, like, appalled, but just like — it would just like if someone was sitting in front of you and decided to whip out their private parts,” Smith told The Forum’s Emily Welker. “It’s kind of rude.”
The Forum confirmed that “Top Man!” was indeed Boehning, who said that the “1,000-pound gorilla has been lifted” from him.
For his part, Boehning defended his votes against several anti-discrimination bills because they did not do enough to protect business owners. He also opposed language in the recent bill that would have protected people who were “perceived” to be gay. He suggested that he would consider voting for a future bill if the word “perceived” was removed.
“We’ve got to look out for employers in the state as well,” the Republican representative said in a statement. “Being who I am in the legislature — it doesn’t matter what I am. Whatever you have in the closet it’s going to come out.”
According to the lawmaker, there had been rumors that a fellow lawmaker said he would be targeted for retaliation if he voted against the anti-discrimination bill.
“This isn’t something I take lightly,” he warned.
But Smith said he just couldn’t understand how a gay lawmaker could vote against LGBT rights.
“How can you discriminate against the person you’re trying to pick up?” Smith wondered.
Watch the video below from The Forum.