On Sunday, Justice Horn, a Missouri activist who is running for the Jackson County Legislature, said that one of his campaign banners had been defaced with a homophobic slur.
Horn, an openly gay former NCAA wrestler, found the banner spray-painted with "fag" in capital letters on Sunday.
That evening, he tweeted, "Today, I learned that my campaign banner was defaced with a homophobic slur here in Kansas City.
"I'll admit, this one hurt because like so many us of who experience this, this word is used to harm us. Either way, I'm not going to back down, and I'm going to hold my head high."
Although Horn did not file a police report, he believes the incident was a hate crime.
"I don't know how much more blatantly that this was a hate crime," Horn told the Kansas City Star in an interview on Monday. "It was specifically targeted at me because of my sexual orientation.
"What bothers me the most is that it happened in broad daylight. They were so emboldened to do this. It was specifically a defacing to attack me not based on my policy or my candidacy but on me personally. It was the same as calling me the N-word."
He added, "It's below the belt, and it's unfair."
Horn tweeted Tuesday morning that somebody tore down the sign before he was to hold a news conference at 9 a.m.
As a result of the incident, the first-time candidate said he was undeterred. On the contrary, he was energized by the incident and has received support from several celebrities, including Patricia Arquette.
"I'm disgusted this happened to you," the Oscar-winning actress tweeted, adding, "donating and sharing."
"This isn't Kansas City," Horn tweeted, "and we're going to prove whoever did this wrong!"
Horn hopes the incident will motivate more people to vote.
"This incident shows that LGBTQ+ representation is needed now more than ever because homophobia is alive and well in the heartland," he told Outsports. "I think the Kansas City community will come out to prove whoever did this wrong and elect the first LGBTQ+ person to Jackson County. I've been doing work in this community, and it's always shown up when it comes to issues like this."
Missouri holds its primary elections on August 2. It is almost certain that whoever wins the primary will win the general election in November in this deep-blue district.
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