The XX Factor

Arizona Gov. Hopeful Noah Dyer Wants Honesty in Politics—on Everything

Noah Dyer has no secrets.

Noah Dyer aspires to be the Democratic nominee for the 2018 Arizona gubernatorial race. Like many people, including many politicians, he has a complicated sexual history. Unlike many people, he is happy to discuss them in public. In a page on his campaign site titled “Scandal and Controversy,” he writes:

Noah has had both deep and casual sexual experiences with all kinds of women. He is an advocate of open relationships. He’s had group sex and sex with married women. He has sent and received intimate texts and pictures, and occasionally recorded video during sex. Noah has always been forthright with his partners. All of his relationships have been legal and consensual, never coercive, or abusive, and he condemns such behavior. Noah is unapologetic about his sexual choices, and wishes others the same safety and confidence as they express themselves.

In a news conference announcing his candidacy last week, Dyer read a “love letter” to the state of Arizona. “I don’t want to use you, I want to serve you,” he promised, before things got weird. “I want to make dinner for you, rub your feet, serenade you with my guitar, and so much more. I don’t have as much money as Doug, but I want to share everything I have with you, including my life.”

“Doug” is incumbent governor Doug Ducey, a Republican who will be up for re-election next fall, and has made no promises to rub his constituents’ collective feet. Dyer is the first Democrat to formally declare his candidacy, and it’s a long shot, to put it kindly. As the Arizona Republic sums it up, he has “has no name identification, no significant support from the Democratic Party, and likely no way to tap money to rival the financial backing Ducey will likely have.” The political director of the state Democratic Party had not heard of him until recently.

Dyer’s openness is obviously unusual in a politician. But it’s not unheard of. Last year, a transgender Congressional candidate in Colorado named Misty Plowright spoke about being in an open, polyamorous triad relationship. Like Dyer, Plowright was a long shot to win. But both candidacies raise the question of whether we’re on the brink of an era in which politicians don’t feel the need to cover up their non-traditional relationships, or even their common-but-not-commonly-discussed proclivities. As sex advice author Dan Savage has been arguing for years, “In the future, everyone will have a sex tape.”

This is not Dyer’s first experiment with extreme openness. In 2014, he launched a Kickstarter campaign to film his life 24/7 for an entire year. In the pitch, he described himself as an “anti-privacy activist” who dreams of a society in which both citizens and the government subject themselves to total transparency. The year on film would have been a radical demonstration of living with “perfect information.” Naturally, it included sex stuff: “If anyone is willing to have sex with me while I do this experiment, you will get to see it,” Dyer wrote. “Only $1 for a year of homebrew porn!” Alas, he raised just $1,087 of his $300,000 goal.

On his campaign site, Dyer’s transparency extends beyond his sex life. The “Scandal and Controversy” page also shares that he is agnostic, and has posted multiple Facebook “tirades” against intolerant religious expression. He has nearly $100,000 in student loan debt, he writes, an amount that grows every year because he doesn’t earn enough to cover even the interest. He is a divorced father of four, and “occasionally has minor feuds with his ex, parents, and extended relatives.” He used credit card cash advances to pay child support during the recession, and ended up settling some of those debts for as little as 25 cents on the dollar. Perhaps the most shocking thing he shares on his campaign site is “Cactus Sunset,” a painting he made at the Art of Merlot, one of those drink-and-paint places that your high-school friends love. “It’s no masterpiece,” he writes, accurately, “but it is pure Noah.”

In the spirit of radical transparency, I will admit that “pure Noah” sounds a little bit exhausting to me. But there’s a charm in Dyer’s approach, as unlikely as it is to succeed. He’s pro-honesty! He’s anti-coercion! Considering that we just elected a president who has been accused by at least 12 women of kissing and groping them without consent, a little over-sharing really doesn’t sound so bad.