Sourcing a story is oftentimes the singular most frustrating aspect of a journalist’s profession. As tall tales abound, especially in the world of small town politics, story pitches and ideas that would bring immense benefit to a community by reporting on it, are stymied through lack of attribution, corroboration, on the record statements or a stifling combination of all three factors. Coupled with feckless editors, fearful of litigation and loss of access, many important events are never disseminated by the press corps for public consumption.
Additionally, certain topics are now considered taboo. In a previous era, reporters offered up narratives containing scandalous suggestions and titillating innuendos, with the facts pushed upon them by competing camps and their differing agendas, all in an effort to find the perfect headlines while increasing circulation and maintaining an appearance of quasi independence. In today’s world of instantaneous critique and critical hot takes leading to intense, career ending blowback, exposes must be approached with utter care and the most gentle of handling.
Societally, with vast swaths of the populous our nation deciding that one’s private life is just that, and as the advancement of those identifying under the LGBTQI+ umbrella moves from whispered acceptance to widespread cultural embrace, the question is raised ever more often:
Is it ever appropriate to report on the sex life of a public figure or figures? And if so, under what parameters should the conversation begin?
Over the last weeks, finding myself wracked by internal torment and roiling about, caught up in external political events swirling around me, I’ve been on a journey to decipher the questions posed above, in order to write the words below. Finally, the answers revealed themselves, and now I’m forging ahead with an account which will illuminate the dismal and decrepit state of elected office, the lack of courage in political convictions, and finally the overriding desire to embrace hypocrisy in an attempt to maintain a flimsy, useless, ineffective grip on the levers of power.
Enveloping the coming paragraphs will be the understanding that each word has been crafted by the article’s creator, one who is a source, a subject, and ultimately the author, too. It’s because of this unique confluence of areas, that both the texts and private messages that confirm much of this tale are being released. Due to the sensitive nature of the content and previous attempts to impugn my personal testimony relating to some of these areas that will be addressed, I could leave no doubt for the readers as to the veracity of my experiences and thus the need to allow them to be directly inspected by the audience. In making the decision to publish this piece, four names have been redacted, all Republicans. Why? Simply because the overriding factors in deciding to touch on the subject matter that I’ve undertaken was based on a double litmus test. Primarily, are those being named hypocrites whose votes and public stances hurt the greater LGBT community and second do their actions result in an undermining of their perceived space in public life. Those whose names are redacted names do not meet either one or both of the thresholds needed to achieve the standards referenced above. Also withheld are certain pictures that will be described but not shown as they too serve no benefit in advancing the storyline.)
Questions abounded. Almost immediately, as quickly as the media began filing their first reports, coming from both close friends and skeptical political acquaintances, every one of them wanted to know the same thing. How could I stand next to Leo Blundo, failed congressional candidate and reviled Nye County Commissioner, and not only offer an impassioned defense of him, but to the chagrin and shock of many, do so looking as a man?
Shrouded in spin and equivocation, dancing around the topics, to give a direct answer would be to commit the cardinal sin of the gay community.
It would have required me to out Leo Blundo as a Bisexual, if not gay, man.
Knowing an arrest was imminent, a few days prior to our press scrum, Leo went on the run hoping to avoid being taken into custody. While the fugitive Commissioner was driving around the streets of southern Nevada, his wife Melissa called me, frantic and rightfully unhinged, worried for her husband’s safety and looking to me for both words of encouragement and advice.
While a call of this type would be unusual for anyone to receive, for her to make it to me bordered on farcical, yet in the context of what she shared with me during a phone conversation two weeks prior, it made some sense. And that call? It was our first one ever.
As was the case with many in Nevada Republican circles during the fall of 2020, Melissa Blundo became enamored with me. Having never laid eyes on her or husband prior to late September of that year, we encountered each other again at a fundraising event that October but didn’t speak for the first time until a random post election evening when we dined at back to back tables in a suburban Vegas Valley restaurant. From having shared those three fleeting moments together, she deigned to bestow on me both the honor and burden of receiving a random post midnight phone call on November 12th.
While most would find the timing of the call strange, she was not the first nor last pseudo stranger nor very public political face to reach out in the middle of the night in order to discuss highly sensitive information with me. However, Melissa Blundo, conservative darling and fiery front for the No Mask Nevada PAC, was clearly burdened and so we spoke. With a portion of the call still off record, I made it clear at the end of our initial communication:
Don’t be a hypocrite, and I’ll always have your back.
During our long, emotionally intense, and mentally exhaustive talk, she revealed that her husband, the Donald J. Trump idolizing Leo Blundo, would drive from Pahrump to Vegas to engage in random same sex encounters with guys he found on the internet and that she too was into both men and women. Having been personally propositioned by numerous politicians this wasn’t shocking yet the painful, almost tormented way in which she revealed it to me forced my transformation from dispassionate listener, to caring quasi counselor.
Applauding her ability to embrace both her sexuality and his, and doing so in a way that didn’t hurt others, I explained that it would be possible for both of them to be fully open at some point in the future as long as they didn’t betray the trust of others in the gay, lesbian and bisexual sphere. I also made clear for the first, but not last, time that truthfulness to one’s self meant no hypocrisy in their public service. As the night became ever later, she probed my own sexual preferences, ending the call in tantalizing and gossipy fashion. Apparently a group of Nevada GOP women slept together and in order to avoid leaks, actually taped their own encounters.
Exactly two weeks later, our next late night call commenced. This covering Leo’s legal peril. With the Nye County sheriff putting out a BOLO, rumors began to abound as to what Commissioner Blundo was wanted for, including a heinous allegation popping up on several social media accounts that he was part of a child porn bust. With my immediate thinking that the charges related to gay sex solicitation, I referenced our initial conversation in asking Melissa about it and with her answering in the negative, our conversation refocused on her husband’s safety and her own sanity. Eventually surrendering, Leo was booked into jail and ultimately released over the span of a few hours.
The next major event leading to the press conference was a direct request by the Blundos to help me with their messaging. Politically and personally torn, looking at the accusations, my willingness to assist was predicated on a belief in his fundamental legal innocence relating to this particular case and the desire to see an LGBTQ “power” couple from Nye county, one hopefully willing to push back against the extreme intolerance and reactive nature against minorities that was apt to publicly reveal itself in rural Nevada.
Setting out to write a speech that would fit the mold of what Leo insisted up discussing which included common right wing tropes of bureaucratic prosecution and unfounded government conspiracy, I wove into a legible and plausible defense that also allowed him to proactively take his case, and plans for reelection, directly to both potential jurors and prospective voters. With a crowd that included the media and the members of the Sheriff’s department his presentation, and mine, was resoundingly successful.
That evening my first doubts of their commitment to the issue of equal rights and justice were raised. In order to not attract further attention or scrutiny, it was agreed that I’d appear to the public that Sunday afternoon presenting as a man. Doing so allowed for both Leo and Melissa to be more relaxed and to deflect away any attention from my gender identity. However, local news led off their coverage of the event with the unnecessary fact that I was transgender. And neither Leo or Melissa pushed back against the unnecessary and callous reporting of it.
Those first days of December saw more revelations. Not content to hint at the fact she slept with other Republican women, Melissa Blundo specified the names of two females she had been intimate with and a third she desired. One a northern based lobbyist, another a high profile GOP activist with close ties to Clark County leadership, and the last an elected official.
That elected official?
In graphic detail Melissa, saved in my phone by that time as “My Girl Melissa,” described the flirtatious events that led her and Black to engage in their sexual tryst. Those same sets of messages also touched on Leo Blundo’s private habits, and named which site they both used to meet people. She also pushed me on my proclivities, going so far as to try and guess the name of the person whom I was then seeing. Despite telling her repeatedly of my vanilla life, and near constant tears I shed at not having a normal dating life and the constant objectification I suffered after transitioning, she pushed and pushed. Even my revelation of emotional and physical trauma including molestation didn’t dissuade her constant probing.
Sharing with her my yearning to be taken seriously again as I had been pre transition, not condemned to being fetishized first and listened to second, I shared with her the books I’d authored, and my LinkedIn profile. Eventually going so far as to share with her a Tinder message from a Las Vegas based political candidate who matched with me solely to discuss strategy and analyze campaigns. Melissa never comprehended the message.
By the end of that month, growing ever more tired of the constant neediness she’d exude when reaching out to me, I lessened our contact greatly, first curtailing all personal contact with Leo by Christmas and only seeing them at the rare public event.
Even this didn’t send a clear enough signal to her, and occasionally continuing to reach out, Melissa’s mood waxed and waned each time we spoke until the Attorney General’s office announced they were not pursuing charges against her husband. From that point she was fully in love again with the man she’d deliberated over divorcing multiple times in the short time we had been communicating.
Even after announcing my own entry into the Las Vegas City Council race, Melissa still attempted to discuss her political aspirations with me, and by this stage, absolutely frustrated with her, I began venting about her annoying nature to another well known, hopeful for a statewide Nevada office. This person, a generational peer, took immense pleasure in not only harshly mocking Melissa and Leo but in one instance reminding Melissa she spoke to me daily.
And it was then, in the spring, without warning, I received multiple boudoir pics from Melissa. While appearing very attractive in design and style, they not only caught me off guard, they were wholly unwelcome. Aggravated, feeling sexualized over the unexpected advance, and in the midst ending a relationship myself, a hurting pang followed by the need to lash out overtook me. Instead of sharing that with Melissa though, whom in that moment I had no interest in speaking to, I forwarded them to our mutual acquaintance, asking if she thought Melissa’s intent was A.) to get Leo to be “straight” or B.) sleep with me. Her response was an immediate “B” along with follow up observations on how people perceived me sexually and a sarcastic comment relating to my autism.
That was one of the last times I communicated with Melissa Blundo, until June 9th, when after declaring my candidacy against Michele Fiore, someone contacted her and told her that not only had they seen the pics she’d sent me, but that I’d said she wanted to sleep with me. Declaring herself heartbroken, she proceeded to play the role of victim, after asserting multiple times in the past she would never capitate in the face of adversity.
There was no victim, or shouldn’t have been. Michele reached out to multiple people connected to me that evening, making direct threats to some and disparaging remarks about me to others. Melissa, having sent me the unwanted pictures, immediately capitulated to Councilwoman Fiore's desires. With Blundo's weakness and cowardice on full display there was no response necessary nor needed by me to her woeful and fabricated texting outburst nor any reason to refute the demonstratively false retelling of events.
By late August the ACLU of Nevada Legislative published a legislative scorecard, and a special section was devoted to Annie Black, with her receiving an entry for having been the only assembly person to have voted against every piece of LGBTQ+ legislation during the 2021 session. Stunned and outraged by this statistic, I wondered, could I and should I out her? Outing her meant outing Leo and Melissa Blundo as well, and at first I wasn’t ready to do that.
That changed on Sunday, September 18th however. Waking up, I was greeted with a social media feed full of photos including those of both Annie Black and the Blundos posing with major conservative political donor and GOP state party finance chair, Don Ahern. Ahern’s hosting of several anti LGBT activists at an upcoming right wing convention, spurred me to look into Leo’s voting record and congressional campaign statements. Doing so, my search uncovered damning evidence of harsh rhetoric against our mutual community, and with these findings decided the time had arrived to out all of three of them.
A newspaper article from April of 2021, printed after I had last seen Leo or Melissa in person, described a vindictive and hate ridden attempt by Leo Blundo to exact revenge against an out gay man who lost to him by a few dozen votes during 2018 GOP Nye County Commission primary. It further detailed vivid and, seemingly, valid claims of sexual harassment by Leo against a Nye county employee who was the child of a gay couple. Leo Blundo, the scared gay man, appears to be nothing more than a self loathing bully married to an enabling spouse who also harbors significant amounts of internalized hatred. And together they seek misguided solace in the company of those with a willingness to actively campaign against their own people.
After researching the veracity of those allegations, I knew I needed to publish and to publish as rapidly as possible.
The event attended by Don Ahern, Annie Black, Leo and Melissa Blundo, among others was held to honor the sanctity of life. Let me make it clear. The reveal which took place in this write up is about defending that same notion of life.
People can live in the closet. I know many that do. Yet if you are Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or can be assigned to those or any other queer label, and you either willfully, or unwillingly, choose to weaponize your office or position and in the process hurt those of us who are in a sexual or gender minority, you are responsible for placing everyone with these sexual preferences and identities at risk of self harm, hate crimes and death. And that outcome is never acceptable, not under any circumstances nor allowed by any code of ethics or morals.To hide in a closet that you are forcing upon all of us, is a closet guarded by a door that deserves to be kicked open and exposed for the world to see.