Look out, Corey is seeing someone — and it isn’t presidential wannabe Jay Inslee!
Barely a week after out gay City Council Speaker Corey Johnson professed no small measure of lust for the governor of Washington, whom he described as a “HOT COOL SMART DAD,” the 37-year-old mayoral hopeful posted a rather cryptic Instagram photo on August 8 of a shirtless man with the caption, “Thursday night…”
Johnson confirmed in an interview with the New York Post that the man in the photo is an entrepreneur named Ernest and added he is “very excited and happy and proud to show the person that I’m just really excited to get to know.”
But the post by Johnson, who has been open in the past about being single and yearning for a husband someday, fueled criticism on Twitter the following morning from a woman with ties to one of Johnson’s 2021 rivals — City Comptroller Scott Stringer.
“Corey Johnson, the NYC Council Speaker, posted this photo on social media at midnight,” wrote Audrey Gelman, who served as deputy communications director for Stringer’s successful 2013 bid for city comptroller and is now CEO of The Wing, which provides a women-focused workspace. “If a woman elected official did this, they wouldn’t have a job in the morning.”
But by midday on August 9, Gelman deleted her tweet after it garnered criticism in light of the historic tendency of straight folks — especially conservative Republicans — to police LGBTQ bodies and condemn queer folks who dare shed any clothing in the public eye. Homophobic dog whistles have especially been seen in the context of Pride celebrations, where critics have at times argued that children should not be exposed to people who are not wearing enough clothing for their liking.
Still, Gelman couldn’t resist calling Ernest a “hunk” in a follow-up tweet.
Though Gelman provided no examples of women, elected or otherwise, losing their job for celebrating the male body, Johnson told the Post that he agrees there is a double standard, saying, “It’s not right, it’s not fair, and my current happiness doesn’t gloss over the importance of addressing that double standard that women face.”
And although the speaker was willing to post a photo of Ernest, he is opting to keep other aspects of their relationship out of the public eye — at least for now.
“I’m proud of Ernest, he’s a great guy,” Johnson said. “I don’t want to get into too many details out of respect for his privacy.”
Hours later, however, the Post identified the new beau as Ernest J. Martin, a 33-year-old filmmaker and fashion photographer. Privacy can be a tough nut on social media.