The mayor of Turlock, California, had several of his campaign signs vandalised with a homophobic slur.
Gary Soiseth – who is running for a second four-year as mayor of the Stanislaus County city – woke up to multiple messages on social media in September telling him that some of his campaign posters had been spraypainted with the slur ‘f*g’.
He told the Bay Area Reporter: “I had a moment with the sign by myself and it was a very emotional experience.
“People don’t fully understand how charged that word is for people in the LGBT community.
“I was very hurt. It’s a very bruising election right now. You try to have very thick skin when people are calling you a liar and a cheater, but when they attack who you are as an individual it’s on a different level, a very human level.
“When I saw that word my guard was down. It hit me in a very different way.
“For some of them, I am the first gay person they have ever met and they have been overwhelmingly positive and accepting.”
Soiseth came out earlier this year in his fourth year serving as mayor but said residents have been supportive.
A spokesperson for the Turlock Police Department, Sergeant Russ Holeman, said: “No one has been caught and no video or anything has been turned in as of yet.
“We investigate any crime thoroughly regardless of whether it’s a political sign or not and determine if anything rises to the level of a hate crime of vandalism.”