A North Dakota Republican state lawmaker with a history of voting against LGBT rights has been outed as gay by a man who received an unsolicited photo of the legislator’s penis on the gay dating app Grindr.
The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead reports 52-year-old Rep. Randy Boehning (R-Fargo) claims a capital employee warned him a fellow lawmaker would ‘out’ him as gay if he continued to vote against proposed legislation granting LGBT people protection against discrimination.
Boehning, who has served 12 years in the state House, recently voted against SB 2279, an anti-discrimination bill supported by the state’s Republican governor but which failed to pass the legislature for the third time in six years. Boehning voted against a similar measure in 2009, and would have done so again in 2013 had the bill not died in the Senate before a House vote.
Enter Dustin Smith, a 21-year-old Bismarck man who contacted the Forum after browsing the popular gay hookup smartphone app Grindr after a user named Top Man! (which in gay parlance means the dominant, or ‘top,’ partner) sent him sexually suggestive messages and, on March 12, an unsolicited photo of his penis. It turns out Top Man! was Rep. Boehning, who didn’t deny sending the image, or that he is gay.
“That’s what gay guys do on gay sites, don’t they?” Boehning told the Forum when asked if he sent the photo. “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, who is not married and says he is also attracted to women, said many people know he is gay, but many of his family and friends do not. The lawmaker told Rob Port, editor at, that he felt relieved to be outed, although he did not like the manner in which his sexuality was revealed to the public.
“I don’t have to look over my shoulder any more,” Boehning said.
“The 1,000-pound gorilla has been lifted,” he told the Forum. “I have to confront it at some point.”
Boehning told the Watchdog he is concerned other lawmakers will be hesitant to cast tough votes on controversial bills out of fear that personal details might be revealed and used against them.
“Are we going to have some other very controversial bill, if they’re hiding in the closet are they going to be afraid to vote that way?” he asked, adding that this sort of “bullying” factored in his vote against SB 2279.
“That probably gave me stronger opinions against the bill,” Boehning said. “The threats. That’s bullying. I don’t succumb to that kind of hate or anger. We’re all there to do a job, and I don’t think anyone should be bullying anyone out there.”
Boehning also defended being a gay conservative.
“If they can’t accept someone for being a conservative Republican and gay, then that’s their issue, I guess,” he said.
But Smith, who outed the hypocritical lawmaker, had trouble understanding Boehning’s mentality.
“How can you discriminate against the person you’re trying to pick up?” he asked the Forum.
Boehning joins a long list of anti-gay politicians (of both parties), clergy and anti-LGBT activists—many of them married—who were caught engaging or attempting to engage in same-sex trysts on the down-low, sometimes with underage boys.