Most know Randy Boehning as a homophobic right-wing legislator from Fargo, ND.
But until this week, few knew Boehning for who he really is: a gay man.
As North Dakota's state representative, Boehning -- a tireless conservative -- has pushed a strict right-wing agenda since his inauguration in 2002.
Most notably, Boehning has twice voted against laws that would expand legal protection for gay men and women, earning himself a reputation as a homophobe.
But earlier this week, Boehning was outed: A Grindr user named Dustin Smith leaked sexually suggestive messages and photos that Boehning had sent him (under the pseudonym Top Man!) to a North Dakota news site, Forum.
Grindr, for the unfamiliar, is a dating and hookup app exclusively for gay men.
Smith told The Washington Post,
I just felt like this story had to get out. A [representative] had voted against a bill for the LGBT community, and here he was, talking to me on Grindr.
Smith first leaked the news several weeks ago, but it wasn't until this past weekend that Boehning confirmed he'd sent the messages and that he's gay.
While outing someone is generally frowned upon, Smith insists he did so for the benefit of the LGBT community in North Dakota, a state he calls “bigoted” and “left in the dust as far as civil rights are concerned.”
He hopes that in outing Boehning, the lawmaker will feel a responsibility to politically support the LGBT community in the future.
In his official coming out, Boehning admitted he was relieved not to have to hide his true self anymore.
The 1,000-pound gorilla has been lifted. I have to confront it at some point.
Citations: ND Legislator who voted against gay rights bill caught sending pics on Grindr (The Washington Post), Grindr user outed North Dakota politician in retaliation for anti gay vote (The Guardian )