BISMARK, N.D., April 29 (UPI) -- North Dakota State Rep. Randy Boehning, R-Fargo, was outed by a man he'd been messaging on the gay dating app Grindr after refusing to vote for LGBT protection bill.
Boehning reportedly sent several messages under the handle "Top Man!" to 21-year-old Dustin Smith including unsolicited pictures of his penis. This was at the same time he was voting down several bills that would provide protections for LGBT people in one of the country's most conservative states.
Smith recognized Boehning in an April 2 article about the North Dakota politicians who voted against Senate Bill 2279, which was intended to protect LGBT people from discrimination.
"I'm sure I've talked to this person before," Smith told the Washington Post. "Suddenly it dawned on me: I think I've seen this guy on Grindr!"
Smith then sent the messages and pictures to the newspaper the Forum. When confronted with the photos and messages, Boehning admitted he was gay.
"That's what gay guys do on gay sites, don't they?" he 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 then claimed it was part of a plan by a fellow lawmaker to blackmail him for his vote on the anti-discrimination bill. He did not mention which of his colleagues was responsible.
Though he admitted to being gay, Boehning still backs his votes on the bill. He believes his constituents in south Fargo would not support it and takes issue with the fact it includes those "perceived" to be gay. Boehning said he would like to see the "perceived" to be removed. As far as whether he is concerned about being discriminated against in regards to housing, work or public accommodation, Boehning said landlords have the right to do as they see fit.
Boehning is happy to finally be honest about himself.
"The 1,000-pound gorilla has been lifted," he said. "I have to confront it at some point."