haunted by the past

Democrat exposed for being raging homophobe on social media swears that’s not who he is today

Albert Chester is currently challenging Florida Congressman Al Lawson in the state’s upcoming Democratic primary. But his chances of defeating Lawson are looking pretty slim after several antigay Facebook posts he wrote resurfaced online.

The posts were first reported on by FloridaPolitics.com and date back to 2013 and 2014. Interestingly, they were leaked by members of a progressive group in Tallahassee called the Leon Democratic Executive Committee that had already endorsed Chester.

In them, Chester says all sorts of awful things about LGBTQ people, including calling the LGBTQ rights movement “the devil” for being a “proud stand for unnatural lusts and desires.”

In another post, Chester says he was starting to “not be an Obama supporter anymore” because of the President’s position on LGBT rights.

And in another, he mocked NFL player Michael Sam by saying he was “coming out too.” Then he said Sam’s historic coming out didn’t matter “as long as you can ball.”

“Bottom line what in the hell do you expect to receive for announcing that you’re a man who likes men,” Chester continued. “These parades, flags, and all this bull.”

On Wednesday, Chester issued a apology for his past remarks in a lengthy statement posted to Twitter, writing: “My past is not an indication of who I am today. Since that time, I have become more knowledgeable about the issues you face. I am fully committed to an inclusive platform that promotes gender equality and strengthens human rights.”

Lawson, however, was quick to jump on the story, calling his opponent’s past rhetoric “unacceptable.”

“His hateful rhetoric has no place here–not just in Florida’s Fifth District, but across our nation,” Lawson said in a strongly-worded statement. “This is about fundamental decency.”

It continued: “These public statements show that he doesn’t understand the role the federal government must play in creating safe spaces for our most vulnerable. This type of language incites violence and further divides our communities.”

Meanwhile, the members from the Leon Democratic Executive Committee who leaked the posts say they did so in an effort to hold Chester accountable for his past behavior. Since doing so, however, they’ve been ousted from the group.

Chelsea Rimert, Jack Mills, Nicole Ordonez, Sierra Bush Rester, and Bobby Johnson, all say they’re no longer welcome at the group’s meetings and have been blocked from the group’s Facebook discussion page.

Florida’s primary is scheduled to take place on August 18.

Related: Florida is on a race to become the most homophobic state in the nation