Opponents of openly gay candidate Justin Carroll in upstate New York apparently tried to smear him with a fake campaign ad using a ‘beefcake’ photo from more than a decade ago and included sexual innuendo regarding his work with YMCA youth.
Complete with rainbow letters spelling ‘Pride’ at the top of the page, the text of the ad repeatedly stresses Carroll’s sexuality, his husband, the possibility of being the first LGBTQ Town Justice in his town of Clinton, New York and more, according to Metro Weekly.
“Justin, a bankruptcy lawyer in NYC, recently relocated to Clinton with his husband Adam Lynch,” reads the text of the fake ad. “Among his accomplishments, Justin has been recognized as one of the country’s ‘Best LGBT Lawyers under 40.’ He sits on various boards and committees while working with youth at the YMCA.”
The faux campaign flyer also used a photo of Carroll from 2005 when he was a 24-year-old ‘cover boy’ for Metro Weekly.
Clearly, the not-so-subtle messaging was a pedophilia dog-whistle by attempting to connect the open-shirt ‘beefcake’ photo with Carroll’s work with YMCA youth.
The flyer also mentions Carrol’s endorsement by The Victory Fund, which helps openly LGBTQ candidates get elected to public office.
Circling back to Carroll’s sexual orientation, the ad declares “Justin will be the first openly LGBTQ elected official for the Town of Clinton.”
Carroll told Metro Weekly he learned of the flyer when it was forwarded to him after it was posted to the Facebook page of the Hudson Valley News.
Hudson Valley News eventually issued a retraction after the editor realized the ad was submitted via a fake email address, but not before several angry anti-gay comments were made to the post. The post announcing the retraction also received homophobic comments.
“At first I thought the ad was just kind of laughable how amateurish it was, given the sophisticated nature of my campaign,” Carroll told Metro Weekly. “Second, it was disheartening, to think about that coming from this community where I’ve moved with my husband.”
“We’ve been living here for almost five years. It’s our full-time residence, it’s our only residence,” says Carroll. “We moved up here to raise a family. It reminds us of the places where we grew up, in Connecticut and Oregon. We’ve had the most wonderful interactions with our neighbors over the past five years and are familiar with all the local establishments. I serve on the town planning board, and am involved in the local community.”
“But obviously when opponents don’t have things to talk about, they find things to manufacture,” he adds
The 37-year-old also noted that the ad seemed “to weaponize my coming out story and things that I’m proud of, but with these nefarious undertones of ‘these people are invading our town and maybe they shouldn’t be left around children.'”
“That’s a disgusting sentiment, and it has no place in our public discourse,” he says.