The race for Boynton Beach Mayor heated up in January as candidate Rev. Bernard Wright, 69, went on Facebook Live on Jan. 26 to make homophobic and racist remarks about the favorite in the race, City Commissioner Ty Penserga, 33, stating, “I ain’t with the LGBT.”
Wright began his rant by insisting that Penserga wants to make Boynton Beach into a “gay city,” saying that that is not what the residents of the city want. Wright incorrectly stated that Penserga has “purple-pink signs, he’s gay.”
Supporters of Penserga know that all of Penserga’s signs are blue and white and that his sexual identity was not a part of this race until Wright attacked it.
Penserga currently serves as the Boynton Beach City Commissioner for District 4 and was instrumental in the installation of Boynton Beach’s pride intersection, painted just outside of city hall during Pride Month in June 2021.
Reverend Wright Uses the Bible to Condemn the LGBT Community
Wright went on to say “do what you want to do, I don’t care who you go to bed with…” in the same breath as he said, “Don’t make this like it is of God.”
He has continued to make more comments condemning people who “open up a book and decide whether you want to be a boy or a girl…”
Wright goes on to claim he is “against protocol … against tradition … and against totally absolutely political correctness.” These remarks come just after he reinforced his belief in traditional ideals of masculinity by stating how he will “walk like a man … spit like a man, pee like a man … and ‘boo boo’ like a man.”
Locals React to Wright’s Words
Long-time Boynton Beach resident and LGBT activist, Allan Hendricks, to whom the Pride Intersection was dedicated, called the comments “abhorrent … racist and homophobic.” Hendricks is proud of the community that the city of Boynton Beach has built and believes that “Rev. Wright seems intent on tearing down that community. He belongs nowhere near the leadership of our city.”
Another Boynton resident, Bradley Jackson, echoed Hendrick’s concerns. Jackson found Wright’s words “reprehensible” and believes that if Wright were to win the election, it would be a “stain on the leadership of our diverse city.”
Julie Seaver, director of Compass, the LGBT community center of Palm Beach County, said, “Bernard Wright’s remarks aimed at City of Boynton Beach’s City Commissioner Ty Penserga are inflammatory, racist, homophobic and downright disgusting. More specifically, he claims to be a man of God, dictating how a man should talk, walk, spit, pee, fight and shoot.”
She expressed her distaste with his attitude, adding, “The City of Boynton Beach is a welcoming city to all of its residents and I can’t imagine the residents would elect this felonious creep as their mayor.”
Wright’s Rant Attacks Penserga’s Race and Experience
Wright’s attack did not stop at Penserga’s sexual identity. He goes on to call Penserga “just an Asian student … an immigrant … with no life experience … living with his mother.”
Penserga immigrated from the Philippines when he was 6 years old and has lived his entire life since then, except for when he left for college, in Boynton Beach. He returned to Boynton and is a teacher for the Palm Beach County public school system, teaching high school chemistry in the same school district he attended growing up.
Penserga is one of few local politicians who spoke at a rally in Lake Worth Beach in 2021 in response to the rising number of hate crimes aimed at Asian Americans. During the rally, Penserga passionately spoke about his experience as a Filipino American and proclaimed that he is proudly and openly “gay and Filipino.”
Wright finished his tirade by using his religion to justify his bigotry, suggesting LGBT community members should read the bible and fear for their salvation. After a story broke in the Palm Beach Post, Wright posted a live video defending his views.
In this live, he said he is not racist, homophobic or anti-Asian, citing gay and Asian friends and family.
Meanwhile, he repeated many of the same sentiments from his original video, doubling down on the word of God. He goes on to say that his issues with Penserga are with perceived corruption, not his sexuality.
Wright now claims that he believes the city is conspiring to put Penserga in the mayoral seat, citing unspecified corruption and vague conspiracies surrounding the current city commission.
Municipal elections will be held on March 8. For information on where to find polling locations in Boynton Beach or your city in Palm Beach County, visit the Supervisor of Elections website at https://www.pbcelections.org/. Specific information can be found at Boynton Beach’s website at www.boynton-beach.org/elections.