Several news sources are reporting that a Republican politician from North Carolina, who opposes same-sex marriage, was once a drag queen and worked at a gay-friendly bar.
According to a report by the Winston-Salem Journal (as cited by the New York Daily News) GOP Steve Wiles, a North Carolina state Senate candidate and supports the state’s ban on gay marriage, was allegedly once a female impersonator known as Miss Mona Sinclair and a drag-show emcee.
Wiles, 34, reportedly performed at the gay-friendly Club Odyssey in Winston-Salem, N.C., from 2002 through 2010. The club’s former owner, Randy Duggins, told the Journal that Wiles directed the bar’s weekly drag show.
"He is Mona Sinclair," Duggins told the newspaper.
When Club Odyssey was an exclusive gay club in the ’90s, Wiles was a frequent patron, according to Duggins.
Duggins adds that he recognized Wiles, now a real-estate agent, as Mona Sinclair when he saw a picture of him in the newspaper as a Republican politician.
"That’s definitely him. He has aged some, but that’s him," Duggins told the Journal. "I have no ax to grind against him. I just think he’s a liar."
Wiles filed papers to run in the Republican primary on May 6 against two other Republican candidates, incumbent Joyce Krawiec and Dempsey Brewer.
According to the Journal, Wiles apologized in an interview "to the people who matter most to me for the things I did when I was young," but did not explain why he was apologizing. When asked if he was Mona Sinclair, Wiles said, "That’s not me." When asked if he is gay, he said "no."
"Why is this even an issue," he asked.
The Journal notes Wiles’ campaign website, Facebook page and Twitter have all been shut down (though his Facebook is currently back up). The newspaper also points out that a Google search of "Steven Wiles" and "Belews Creek," where the Republican lists as his home town on his campaign filings, will turn up a link to the Miss Gay America website.
The Journal writes:
Within the website, a webpage with Wiles’ name has been taken offline, but the cached version was still accessible this week. The webpage lists a Steven Wiles as Mona Sinclair. It says he lives in Belews Creek and that he was a promoter of Miss Gay Eastern States America and a promoter for Miss Gay North Carolina America.
The webpage also says that Wiles was suspended for "conduct unbecoming to a promoter of the Miss Gay America pageant system," according to the webpage, without providing more information.
This isn’t the first time Wiles’ drag past has haunted him. Last year, while running for a county commissioner seat, Scott Cumbie, chairman of the Forsyth Republican Party, called Wiles out on being Monica Sinclair. Wiles, however, denied it was him.
"It’s not just about lifestyle. It’s about credibility," Cumbie said, according to the Journal.
Though Wiles denied his drag past, he admitted to it in an interview with Business Insider.
"I think that everyone has their own choices to make and I’m fine with everyone making their own," he said. "For me, from a religious standpoint, just for my life, for me, it just was not something that I wanted to continue."
He added that doing drag was, "just was not something that I wanted to continue."
When Business Insider asked if he was gay, Wiles said, "no, I really won’t make any comments on that."
It was revealed that Wiles as a promoter for the 2011 Miss Gay America pageant but was dismissed for "conduct unbecoming" to the organization, the Journal notes.
From our media partner EDGE