New ad attacking gay candidate Jon Hoadley perpetuates anti-gay stereotypes;
Allies “must speak out” and LGBTQ community “must invest” in race
Washington, DC – Today LGBTQ Victory Fund, the only national organization dedicated to electing LGBTQ leaders to public office, condemned a new television ad that uses anti-gay stereotypes to attack Michigan state Representative Jon Hoadley in his race against incumbent U.S. Representative Fred Upton. The ad, part of a $500,000 media buy, is the latest in a well-funded and orchestrated effort to use anti-gay attacks to derail Hoadley’s campaign. Victory Fund is calling on allies and allied organizations to “speak out and condemn these attacks” and for LGBTQ community members to invest in his campaign.
The origins and context for each of the quotes used against Hoadley, as well as a listing of the continued homophobic campaign tactics, are below.
“Fred Upton is running the most homophobic campaign in America and his refusal to denounce these Trumpian tactics makes his self-righteous calls for ‘civility’ look absurd,” said Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund. “His silence cued supporters to invest more than $500,000 in misleading attack ads that purposely perpetuate the ugliest of anti-gay stereotypes. Fred is so embedded in Trump-land that he can no longer differentiate between the typical rough and tumble of campaigning and the politics of hate he claims to deplore.
“Allies to LGBTQ people must speak out and condemn these attacks because Fred won’t stop until that happens. The LGBTQ community must invest in Jon’s race financially so we can show bigoted politicians that anti-gay attacks will backfire and fail. At a time when our politics is so vicious it becomes easy to tune out another television campaign ad. But it is essential for all marginalized communities and American democracy that we never allow attacks based on bigotry to be overlooked or normalized.”
In media statements, Upton has attempted to shift the blame to outside political groups yet for months has refused to condemn the attacks, giving implicit permission for the attacks to continue. That silence undoubtably informed the anti-gay strategy for the new ad and the $500,000 ad buy, both led by the National Republican Campaign Committee’s Super PAC, the Congressional Leadership Fund.
The homophobic campaign attacks, including the new ad, use out-of-context phrases from a blog and poem Hoadley wrote 15 years ago when an undergraduate in college. They twist the phrases to imply Hoadley is a pedophile, drug user, misogynist and sexual predator – all of which are standard homophobic tropes for vilifying gay men.
Below, each is explained:
- Condemning sexualization of young girls. In a clearly satirical discussion about whether all ‘gay men desire to be flower girls,’ a friend of Hoadley jokes that he has no desire to see a ‘four-year-old wearing a thong’ as a condemnation of the hyper-sexualization of children. The phrase has been removed from context to imply that Jon is a pedophile, an accusation that has been repeated multiple times in many ways by the NRCC and pro-Upton operatives.
- Implied drug usage. The post details that Hoadley went to a bar to “learn about crystal meth,” in reference to an informational meeting about the drug’s impact on the LGTBQ community. He ended the post by writing, “Don’t do meth.” Now the attack ads portray the quote as him using crystal meth.
- Use of the term “breeders.” Hoadley uses the word “breeders” in a post, a term jokingly used by LGBTQ people to refer to heterosexual people. The word “breeders” is a relatively light-hearted term well-known in the LGBTQ community and is not a term that is specific to women. This is being twisted to claim Hoadley is a misogynist.
- Talk of “sexual conquests.” In a poem he wrote for a newspaper while in college, he writes: “My fingers walk as I talk to the latest victims of my sexual conquest.” The line is a reference to him looking through his cell phone for people he’s had consensual relationships with. His opponents are distorting the word “victim” to claim he is a sexual predator.
Details of the Homophobic Campaign
The orchestrated attacks on Hoadley are months in the making and have led to the ad released this week. Below is an outline of the attacks and their origins:
- The attack is launched with Upton campaign officials and/or Upton supporters successfully pitching a biased New York Post story about his 15-year old blog posts and poem. This is the first time the phrases were taken out-of-context to attack Hoadley.
- The National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC) launches a blog and Twitter campaign repeatedly referring to Hoadley as a pedophile and a “pedo sex poet,” despite knowing his comment on four-year old girls was criticizing the over-sexualization of young people.
- Many right-wing media outlets that regularly “report” on NRCC messaging sensationalize the story further in articles that increasingly make note of him being an out gay candidate.
- A Super PAC with ties to Upton, Defending Main Street, sends out campaign mailers to voters that use the out-of-context phrases to continue perpetuating the anti-gay narrative.
- The Upton campaign tells The Detroit News it has “nothing whatsoever” to do with the attacks and claims they “have no control over” what the NRCC and others do. They instead pivot to continue blaming Hoadley and refuse to condemn and call off the attacks.
- Upton has contributed more than $960,000 to the NRCC as a member of Congress. Defending Main Street has spent over $300,000 to defend Upton since 2014. The ties cannot be more clear. If Upton would have condemned the attacks, neither the campaign mailer or television ad would have used homophobia to attack Hoadley.
- The NRCC’s Super PAC, the Congressional Leadership Fund, launches the new TV ad with a $500,000 media buy.
- Upton remains silent.
Victory Fund has endorsed 387 openly LGBTQ candidates for public office this year. While many of them have faced homophobic and transphobic attacks throughout their campaigns, there is currently no openly LGBTQ candidate facing the onslaught of homophobic attacks faced by Hoadley.
LGBTQ Victory Fund
LGBTQ Victory Fund works to change the face and voice of America’s politics and achieve equality for LGBTQ Americans by increasing the number of openly LGBTQ elected officials at all levels of government.