A candidate running for the New Mexico State House of Representatives has confirmed that he appeared in pornographic films while he was a struggling college student.
“I am not proud of that choice, as I was young, and naïve,” Roger Montoya wrote on his campaign’s Facebook page. “But those experiences helped me to understand the exploitation young people face.”
Montoya, the Democratic candidate for the open District 40 seat held by Joseph Sanchez, who ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination in New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District, said his past work in adult films “do not reflect who I am” and are “insignificant in the scope of my life’s work.”
News of Montoya’s past was reported last week by the Piñon Post, a conservative online news organization that accused the Democrat of engaging in “unprotected sex in multiple gay films” under the names “Joe Savage” or “Eric Martinez,” reports the Santa Fe New Mexican.
Montoya, an artist, dancer, and longtime community organizer who heads Moving Arts Española, a local arts-centric youth center, has worked on anti-violence and HIV education initiatives. As a person living with HIV, he helped implement the first HIV education programs in Española public schools. He was recognized as one of 10 CNN Heroes in 2019 for his contributions.
In his statement, Montoya, 59, claims that he starred in two adult films to support himself while living in Los Angeles at age 22, not wanting to ask anybody for any financial help. He added that he knew when he first embarked on his campaign that “Republicans and their allies would bring up whatever they could to discredit me.”
“If the Republican Party chooses to focus on something I did nearly four decades ago rather than how hard I will work to bring back our devastated economy, provide healthcare, create new jobs and industries, to improve our public schools, to fix our crumbling infrastructure, and to protect our land, acequias and our way of life, that is their choice,” he wrote. “I trust the voters to make a better choice because we have so much at stake this November.”
Even though Montoya’s opponent, Justin Salazar-Torrez, has not harped on the issue, and expressed sympathy for Montoya, the Republican Party of New Mexico called on the Democrat to drop out of the race.
“This irresponsible and reckless behavior of starring in gay porno films, whether it takes place now or years ago, is unbecoming of any candidate or elected official,” GOP Chairman Steve Pearce — a longtime former congressman known for his anti-LGBTQ stances while in office — said in a statement. “If you’re a public servant, you must be held to the highest standards.”
But supporters of Montoya largely seem to have rallied around him, at least based on statements posted to his Facebook page.
“Who people have sex with is none of our business,” Greg Sonnenfeld, an engineer and political organizer, wrote in a Facebook thread that generated hundreds of comments. “Keep representing the community.”
While it remains to be seen whether the revelation will detail Montoya’s campaign, the HIV/AIDS education advocate says he’s proud of his accomplishments helping people in rural New Mexico deal with drug addiction and public health issues.
“I am proud of bringing arts to the schools in a new and creative way that included an entire community,” Montoya wrote in his statement. “I am proud of the non-profits I’ve founded and the work they are doing today to inspire our community, to provide food and shelter to our homeless, to feed and nourish, and address chronic substance abuse. I am proud to have worked alongside so many in this community to bring change for the better, and nothing will change that.”
Montoya has also received support from Democratic House Speaker Brian Egolf, who praised the candidate’s honesty and said Montoya’s past shouldn’t affect voters’ assessment of whether they can trust him to represent them well.
“People should, and I believe do, make their decision on whom to support in an election based on who they are and what they can offer to their community,” he said. “On that account, Roger Montoya is the clear and obvious choice to be elected to the state House.
“He has built his life as one of service to his community and has given himself for decades to make Española and the Española Valley and all of Northern New Mexico a better place,” Egolf added. “His record of service to the community is exemplary. He will make a fantastic state representative.”
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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at email@example.com
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