An insidious flyer made to look like the work of the Democratic Party utilizes homophobic tropes to target a candidate for town justice in Clinton, N.Y. The flyer juxtaposes a 14-year-old Metro Weekly "Cover Boy of the Year" photo of the candidate, Justin Carroll, with his shirt unbuttoned with information about his current work with children at the YMCA.
"Justin, a bankruptcy lawyer in NYC, recently relocated to Clinton with his husband Adam Lynch," reads the flyer, under the header of "Pride." "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."
"Justin will be the first openly LGBTQ elected official for the Town of Clinton," the flyer adds, sending people to the Victory Fund (which endorsed Carroll) website for more information about him.
The flyer, distributed in the town of about 4,300, was also posted on the Facebook page of the Hudson Valley News, where users made several antigay statements accusing Carroll of flaunting his sexuality and accusing the candidate of pushing an agenda, according to Metro Weekly.
The Hudson Valley News removed the post and issued a retraction after it was discovered the flyer had been sent from an unverified email address. The retraction post drew more anti-LGBTQ posts, and that was eventually removed as well.
Carroll, 37, who moved to Clinton five years ago, told Metro Weekly that up to this point, he and his husband have felt incredibly welcomed in the town.
"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," Carroll said. "But obviously when opponents don't have things to talk about, they find things to manufacture."
Addressing the photo on the flyer, Carroll said that it "felt like it [the flyer] was trying 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 said.
Carroll added that LGBTQ politicians have been subject to hateful attacks before and that he remains steadfast in his commitment to focus on what matters to the people of Clinton.
"I'm focused on the issues important to our town. Anyone who's supporting me is interested in those issues, and they don't want to see neighbors attacking neighbors," Carroll said. "That's just not the kind of place we are up here."