An anti-gay marriage Republican candidate for state senate in North Carolina is defending himself after reports that he once worked as a drag queen at a gay nightclub.
Steve Wiles began working as a female impersonator known as Miss Mona Sinclair at Club Odyssey in the early 2000s, the club's co-owner, Randy Duggins, told the Winston-Salem Journal.
Wiles, 34, was a frequent patron of the club in the late 1990s before working there as the drag show's emcee.
"I recognized his picture when I was looking in the paper. That’s definitely him. He has aged some, but that's him," Duggins said. "I have no ax to grind against him. I just think he's a liar."
Wiles, who supports North Carolina's constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage, first denied having worked at the club, according to the Journal.
"That's not me," Wiles said three weeks ago, referring to Mona Sinclair.
But shortly after the Journal published its report over the weekend, Wiles released a lengthy apology on his Facebook page.
"I'd like to apologize to everyone, because, unlike the currently appointed NC Senator in District 31, I made mistakes," he wrote. "My job was embarrassing — I had to have a job!"
Wiles' campaign website, Facebook page and Twitter account have since been deleted, according to the Journal.
In an interview with Business Insider this weekend, Wiles confirmed he had worked at Odyssey as Mona Sinclair.
"I think that everyone has their own choices to make, and I'm fine with everyone making their own. For me, from a religious standpoint, just for my life, for me, it just was not something that I wanted to continue," he said.
"Of course it was an embarrassment, but you know, you move on. You live life, and you change, and you make yourself what you want yourself to be. And that's where I am now."
Wiles, who now works as a real estate agent at Coldwell Banker, said he believes the Winston-Salem Journal article was an attack by his opponents.
When asked in the interview whether he was gay, Wiles replied, "No, no, I really won't make any comments on that."
He went on to explain that he doesn't believe being against same-sex marriage is the same as being anti-gay.
He said in his Facebook post that he understands the gay community doesn't share his support for the marriage amendment and that he'd be "very happy to discuss" his views with members of the Democratic party and the gay community.
Wiles is running against two other GOP candidates in a primary election on May 6.