Steve Wiles is a 34-year-old real estate agent now trying to launch a political career by running for state senate in North Carolina. As a conservative Republican, he supports most of the same issues that conservative Republicans generally support. One of those issues is a ban on same sex marriage.
That’s why he found himself apologizing for the “embarrassment” of a job he held about a decade ago. His former co-workers at the now-closed Odyssey nightclub believe that voters in the state’s mostly conservative 31st Senate District should know that Wiles once worked at the nightspot — as a drag queen using the name “Miss Mona Sinclair.”
In his female persona, said the club’s former co-owner Randy Duggins, Steve Wiles worked at Odyssey in 2001 and 2002 as the nightclub’s emcee for its nightly drag shows, as well helping put the shows together.
The nightclub’s former co-owner Randy Duggins said he was upset that Wiles campaigned in 2012 for North Carolina’s constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, despite his own history, which also includes work as a promoter for Miss Gay America, a beauty pageant for men who dress as women. Wiles has been suspended from the Miss Gay America organization however.
“Why would you want to get into that knowing your past?” asked Duggins. “He’s a hypocrite.”
Duggins said he recognized Wiles from his picture in the newspaper.
“That’s definitely him,” said Duggins in an interview with The Winston-Salem Journal. “I have no ax to grind against him. I just think he’s a liar.”
Indeed when the revelation about his past first became public, Wiles lied about it.
“That’s not me,” Wiles said when the Journal first questioned him about “Mona Sinclair” in early April. Wiles, who was a registered Democrat as recently as 2008 but since switched parties, later acknowledged his past as a female impersonator. But not before he also denied it to the local Republican Party chairman, Scott Cumbie.
“It’s not just about lifestyle. It’s about credibility,” Cumbie told the Journal.
When asked by the paper if he is gay, Wiles answered “no.”
However, the online publication Business Insider asked Steve Wiles if he now considers himself “ex-gay,” and the candidate refused to answer. “I really won’t make any comments on that,” he said.
He said that he gave up his drag persona for religious reasons.
“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,” said Wiles. “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 also said that he does not consider himself “anti-gay,” though he opposes the right of gays to legally marry.