Justice Horn, an LGBTQ+ activist who is currently campaigning for a seat on the Jackson County Legislature, has spoken out after one of his campaign posters was defaced with a homophobic slur.
Writing on Twitter, Horn said that he was "hurt because like so many us of [sic] who experience this, this word is used to harm us."
He was resolute, however, that the incident would not affect his ongoing campaign, adding that "I'm not going to back down and I'm going to hold my head high."
\u201cToday I learned that my campaign banner was defaced with a homophobic slur here in Kansas City. \n\nI\u2019ll admit, this one hurt because like so many us of who experience this, this word is used to harm us. Either way, I\u2019m not going to back down and I\u2019m going to hold my head high.\u201d— Justice Horn (@Justice Horn) 1656889964
In an interview with The Kansas City Star, Horn said the incident was "blatantly" a hate crime and that it "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.”
“It’s below the belt and it’s unfair."
Horn told the outlet that he would plan a press conference at the 4600 block of Campbell Street in front of the defaced campaign sign. He has not filed a police report and he has not decided to take down the sign, saying, "This stuff is hard and we’re gonna face push back from folks who don’t change.”
The press conference went on as planned, and afterward Horn acknowledged on Twitter that many LGBTQ+ people "grow up with trauma from being bullied because of who we are and who you love."
He added that he is "not going to be bullied and our community isn’t going anywhere either," stressing that "we have a chance to set the record straight here in 28 days with the August 2 election."
\u201cBut hear me today, I\u2019m not going to be bullied and our community isn\u2019t going anywhere either. The last 48 hours has shown a lot of folks that hate is alive and well in our community, but we have a chance to set the record straight here in 28 days with the August 2 election. (2/3)\u201d— Justice Horn (@Justice Horn) 1657061216
Horn concluded his message with a call to action for his supporters to not "sit this one out," encouraging them to "vote because we can't let hate win."
\u201cWe can\u2019t sit this one out, we have to show up and vote because we can\u2019t let hate win! \ud83d\uddf3 (3/3)\u201d— Justice Horn (@Justice Horn) 1657061216
Many have praised Horn for speaking out.
\u201cI\u2019m so sorry this happened & thank you for standing strong. Yes!\u201d— Betsy Keppel (@Betsy Keppel) 1656967097
\u201cSome people take political discourse to new level but #LGBTQ candidates understand the assignment and will fighter harder everyday because we deserve to be treated the same & ready to govern for better tomorrow. #loveorhate #Democrats #VoteBlue2022\u201d— Dustin Burley for State Rep (@Dustin Burley for State Rep) 1656939527
\u201cChip in to @runforsomething candidate Justice Horn to show you\u2019ve got his back. https://t.co/lue70Gqnnd\u201d— Amanda Litman (@Amanda Litman) 1656941577
\u201cHow awful. Hate has no place in #KCMO. I\u2019m so sorry for this attack, Justice.\u201d— Eric Bunch (@Eric Bunch) 1656949254
\u201cThis isn't OK! In sorry this happened to you my friend. Let me be clear, hate and non tolerance isn't welcome in our community.\u201d— Jennings for Missouri Senate (@Jennings for Missouri Senate) 1656949532
\u201cI\u2019m so sorry that a candidate\u2019s banner was defaced and he was called such ugly names. @JusticeHorn_ provide your donation link. I\u2019d like to help you replace them. #LoveDrivesOutHatred\u201d— Jamison for Justice (@Jamison for Justice) 1656960832
\u201cThis is awful, we will not let bigots win. Donate to Justice\u2019s campaign to show him your support: https://t.co/w4LHBjL9dn\u201d— brandon w \ud83e\udde6\ud83c\udfdb (@brandon w \ud83e\udde6\ud83c\udfdb) 1656961548
\u201cJust so you know\u2026 this happened to me when I ran in my hometown for school board. I rose above the hate. I won with the lost votes ever casted for an lgbtq person in a conservative town. Keep fighting. You\u2019ll win, @JusticeHorn_! We got you!\u201d— Matthew Hunt (@Matthew Hunt) 1656962421
The defacing of Horn's campaign sign comes amid the ongoing "groomer" hysteria among Republicans who have accused LGBTQ+ people of building relationships, trust, and emotional connections with children so they can manipulate, exploit and abuse them.
The political climate has grown more tense for LGBTQ+ people, and many public figures within the Republican party have felt emboldened to share hateful rhetoric.
This rhetoric came to a head last month in Texas, for instance, where the state's Republican Party adopted a new platform calling homosexuality an "abnormal lifestyle choice."
Texas Republicans have made clear they oppose making members of the LGBTQ+ community a protected class and they do support conversion therapy, saying that efforts should be made among the LGBTQ+ community to eliminate “unwanted same-sex attraction" as they advocate for what they termed "Reintegrative Therapy."