Article Lead Image

screengrab via ABCNewsPolitics/Twitter

Activist confronts Ben Carson at rally: ‘Do you think I chose to be gay?’

The GOP candidate was caught in an awkward standoff.


Mary Emily O'Hara


Posted on Jan 5, 2016   Updated on May 27, 2021, 10:05 am CDT

An LGBT activist in Staten Island, New York, became an Internet hero Tuesday when video surfaced of a brief confrontation with presidential hopeful Ben Carson. Things escalated quickly.

The local asked Carson Monday night at a town hall: “Do you think I chose to be gay?” Carson appeared taken aback by the soft-spoken question, responding by confusedly asking the question back to the activist. The person repeated even more firmly: “Yes. Do you think I chose to be gay?”

“That’s a long conversation. A long conversation,” responded Carson, with a smile. That’s when the activist smiled back, and said “I think you’re full of shit,” before turning around and walking away.

In the video, Carson’s heckler is seen wearing a T-shirt with the logo of the Pride Center of Staten Island emblazoned across the chest. The Daily Dot reached out to the center for comment and to pinpoint the identity of the activist, but did not immediately get a response. 

According to, Carson is the first Republican presidential candidate to campaign on the island in person. Staten Island is one of New York City’s five boroughs, but its limited accessibility (to visit from Manhattan, one must ride a boat) lends to its reputation as a distant suburb. Mother Jones mocked Carson’s choice to go there, quipping “There’s no real explanation for this stop.” 

Carson’s has also been mocked in the past for his ideas about the LGBT community: notably his assertion that “prison makes you gay,” which may have prompted the activist’s question about sexual orientation being a choice.

Photo via ABCNewsPolitics/Twitter

Share this article
*First Published: Jan 5, 2016, 4:49 pm CST