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Outrage after Republican candidate tells voters ‘don’t be weak and gay’

Valentina Gomez, a Republican candidate for Missouri secretary of state, stoked outrage with a video in which she ran down a street while wearing a protective vest and said: “In America, you can do anything you want, so don’t be weak and gay. Stay fucking hard.”

Jason Kander, a former Democratic Missouri secretary of state and candidate for US Senate, said with sarcasm: “So refreshing to see a female GOP candidate who never served in the military doing the whole veteran cosplay, stolen valour, bigotry as a substitute for strength routine as well as any man.”

Observers noted that Gomez’s video was filmed in the Soulard District of St Louis, a historically LGBTQ+ neighbourhood.

Gomez’s tweet included the handles for Andrew Tate, a British influencer, and his brother Tristan Tate, a kickboxer, who deny charges of human trafficking, rape and forming a criminal gang to sexually exploit women.

Gomez said her video featured music by “the great Lupe Fiasco”. Users pointed to the rapper’s statements against homophobia, including: “You should not use words like ‘faggot’ it’s derogatory and unacceptable … no room for homophobia in hip hop.”

On Tuesday, apparently in response to the video, the rapper said: “We are aware and currently taking action.”

Gomez, 25 and from St Louis, describes herself as “a real estate investor, financier, strategist, former NCAA Division I swimmer, relentless achiever, and a fierce advocate for the principles values we hold dear as Americans battling for a better future”.

Like many other short videos Gomez has made, the ad featuring her running included an image of her holding a large gun. Others show her firing guns, including at an inflatable Star Wars stormtrooper.

In February, Gomez posted a video in which she used a flamethrower to burn books with LGBTQ+ themes.

“This is what I will do to the grooming books when I become secretary of state,” she said. “These books come from a Missouri public library. When I’m in office, they will burn.”

The Kansas City Star told readers: “Public book burnings typically illustrate extreme censorship related to political, cultural and religious materials. They often invoke historic atrocities such as burning of Jewish texts in Nazi Germany or racist bonfires by the Ku Klux Klan.”

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Gomez’s campaign director told NBC News: “You want to be gay? Fine be gay. Just don’t do it around children.” The statement also included familiar far-right complaints about drag shows, pronouns and transgender rights.

Whoever succeeds the current Missouri secretary of state, Jay Ashcroft, will control elections in the state. Gomez supports Donald Trump’s lies about electoral fraud.

The independent nonprofit Ballotpedia places Gomez among the frontrunners in an eight-strong Republican field, alongside members of the state House and Senate.

Gomez is “a real estate investor who has received national attention for her social media presence”, the site says.

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