The DeSantis campaign recently released a promotional video on Twitter that compares former President Donald Trump’s statements on LGBT rights to the policies of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. However, this video has sparked controversy within the LGBT community.
The Log Cabin Republicans, a conservative LGBT advocacy group, criticized the video, calling it “divisive and desperate” in a tweet. They argued that the campaign was alienating swing-state and younger voters by venturing into homophobic territory. The group stated that DeSantis and his team could not differentiate between commonsense gays and radical Left gays.
Notably, even some prominent members of the LGBT community expressed their disappointment with the video. Ric Grenell, former Trump acting Director of National Intelligence and the first openly gay White House official, described the video as undeniably homophobic. Additionally, Caitlin Jenner, a former Olympic athlete who is now a trans-woman and featured in the video, criticized it as a “new low” for DeSantis.
The video juxtaposes footage of Trump affirming his support for LGBT rights, such as allowing trans-women to use the women’s room at Trump Tower and inviting trans-women to compete in his Miss Universe beauty pageant. It includes images of an “LGBT for Trump” shirt, the conservative drag queen “Lady MAGA,” and a tweet in which Trump expressed solidarity with LGBT people facing persecution in countries where being gay is punishable by death.
In contrast, the video portrays DeSantis through a series of headlines accusing him of enacting extreme and anti-trans legislation. It highlights news articles referring to him signing what are described as the most extreme anti-trans laws in modern history and a draconian anti-trans bathroom bill. The video also criticizes his alleged opposition to drag shows for kids and the inclusion of comprehensive sex education in schools. Throughout the video, there are flashes of muscular men reminiscent of Tom of Finland artwork, as well as snippets from films like Troy, Wolf of Wall Street, and American Psycho.
The DeSantis campaign’s rapid response director, Christina Pushaw, defended the candidate’s policies. She argued that opposing the federal recognition of Pride Month does not make someone homophobic, as they wouldn’t support a month to celebrate straight people either. It is worth noting that it is unclear if the video was actually produced by the DeSantis campaign, as it does not feature the legally required “this is [name] and I approve this message” language found in official campaign ads.
Although former President Trump did not comment on the video during a recent campaign rally in South Carolina, it is important to acknowledge his controversial history with the LGBT community. Critics have accused Trump of being a bigot committed to rolling back LGBT rights. During his presidency, he implemented policies such as banning transgender people from openly serving in the military and expressed intentions to cut federal funding for schools and healthcare facilities that supported what he called “transgender insanity.”
In conclusion, the DeSantis campaign’s promotional video comparing Trump’s statements on LGBT rights to the policies of Governor DeSantis has generated backlash within the LGBT community. Some have labeled the video as homophobic, while others argue that it is divisive and desperate. It remains to be seen how this controversy will impact the campaign and its appeal to swing-state and younger voters.