Steve Wiles, a vocal supporter of North Carolina's same-sex marriage ban, is running for the state Senate as a Republican but the Winston-Salem Journal has dug up a colorful detail from his past: For the best part of a decade, he was a female impersonator known as "Miss Mona Sinclair" who performed at a local gay nightclub. The Journal's online research also revealed that the 34-year-old was once a promoter for Miss Gay North Carolina America, but was suspended for "conduct unbecoming to a promoter of the Miss Gay America pageant system."
Wiles says that he has no intention of suspending his campaign in a deeply conservative district, though he describes his drag queen days as an "embarrassment." He says he believes the Journal report is the work of his political opponents, and, asked if he would consider himself "ex-gay," declined to comment. "I learned a lot of lessons, some of them, well most of them, the hard way," he tells Business Insider. "That's generally how I learned, but I did learn from my mistakes. That's something that I wish I could say for some of my GOP rivals." (Read more same-sex marriage stories.)