Why You Should Donate to a Transgender Rights Organization in the Name Milo Yiannopoulos.
On Tuesday, July 4, “alt-right provocateur” Milo Yiannopoulos released his self-published book, Dangerous. The book, to the delight of Yiannopoulos, probably to the delight of his career’s greatest mentor at Breitbart, Steve Bannon, and possibly to the delight of Bill Maher, is presently the number-one best seller on Amazon.
Yiannopoulos announced his book release on Tuesday with a message that read in part:
To understand why I chose July 4th as the publication date for DANGEROUS, you,need [sic]to understand my relationship with America. Growing up in England, I had certain positive beliefs about the United States. President Reagan was a perfect partner for Margaret Thatcher, and as time went on, my connection to America just got stronger.
Eventually, as Europe decayed and London became a muslim city completely unrecognizable to me, I knew that America was my future.
In my home country, it is now a crime to insult Islam on social media. In Canada, you’re in serious trouble if you use the wrong gender pronouns with mentally ill trannies.
Yiannopoulos’s whole schtick is basically to package Ann Coulter’s antagonistically hatemongering personality into a Millennial-trendy-clothed young gay man’s body with a Suze Ormanesque hairdo. Both are consummate, career victimizers. Both cry victim when criticized.
As a political activist, Yiannopoulous’s hair obviously became a primary talking point for Breitbart ̶r̶e̶a̶d̶e̶r̶s̶ followers, and of course for Yiannopoulos’s relentless self-promotions, which are either encouraging young people to develop their hatred of immigrants, Muslim people, immigrants, transgender people or especially women, or else they’re about his hair. As is the case with Donald Trump, who he calls ‘Daddy,’ Yiannopoulos’s stormy, supernaturally jaundiced hair is the most stable and substantial part of his act.
Yiannopoulos — branded with the backing of Breitbart as an iconic one-named creature MILO — stealthily co-opted the minds of tens of thousands or more college students in the year or so prior to the 2016 United States presidential election. He began as an “alt-right provocateur” who simultaneously advanced the alt-right movement and denied that he associates himself with it before apparently singing the praises of adult-man-on-underaged-boy sex, proclaiming victimhood, and then being handed $12 million in seed money to start his own alt-right media company.
How did all this happen? Through the support of some unexpected proponents.
Out magazine, an iconic periodical founded in 1992 that has an undeniable history of advancing LGBT rights through high-profile celebrity interviews intermixed with photos of, well, lots of shirtless men who have come to become the visual representation and expectation of all gay men, and Absolut vodka ads, gave Yiannopoulos the star treatment in September 2016 — just in time to raise his profile among LGBT people before the election.
Prior to the incredible 5,000-word-plus Out story (such longform journalism is practically unheard of these days), Yiannopoulos had been giddily recruited by the Trump campaign to host a “Gays for Trump” rally at the June 2016 GOP convention. There, Yiannopoulos declared “we are at war!” The war he spoke of was with the mainstream media, a war on words, a war on his right to say things like “feminism is cancer” and carry signs that say “Harry Potter and rape culture: both fantasy” without criticism. No one stopped Yiannopoulos from saying these things, but many, many people — particularly women — criticized him for saying these things. And that made Yiannopoulos a victim to himself and a would-be martyr to his fans.
One of those fans is a writer named Chadwick Moore, the author of the epic tale of Milo Yiannopoulos as told in Out. The magazine dedicated significant resources to this story — God only knows how much Moore was paid for his mini-biography, and the story comes packaged with a photoshoot that is evidently meant to be adorable, depicting Yiannopoulos as an impish clown, an impish guy in a suit making his fingers into devil horns, an impish drag queen wearing a dress made out of American flag fabric. (Quick aside: Hardly anyone who writes about Yiannopoulos seems to regard it as at all relevant that he — a man who was hired to recruit for an anti-immigration campaign — is a foreigner who speaks out against (brown-skinned) immigrants’ rights to live here.)
It’s — let’s call it interesting — that Out magazine chose to dedicate this extended profile to a man who calls transgender people “mentally ill trannies.” Even more interesting is that this long profile was not an objective question-and-answer interview, not an objective biography, not even a puff piece, but instead reads like something written by a personal publicist. From the opening:
A professional mischief maker and provocateur, he loves a grand entrance. Wherever Yiannopoulos goes, the Loki from London swoops in with rapid-fire talking points delivered in a playfulness so foreign — and intoxicating — to most journalists and Americans that they are left standing in the rubble, dumbfounded.
From the middle:
Yiannopoulos is among Trump’s most prominent and gleeful supporters. “Donald Trump is such an obvious gay icon,” Yiannopoulos says in the salon. “He’s brassy, he’s outrageous, his taste in interiors is gaudy and exhibitionist. He’s a heavy-handed caricature of a billionaire. Everything about him is at once fantastic and camp. He’s the drag queen you can vote for.”
From the middle (it’s a long article):
He stands over 6 feet tall and has a lanky, soft build. When he’s not dressed in tailored English suits, he’s usually sporting tank tops, flowy textiles, straight-leg jeans, and $1,000 Nike basketball shoes (“I wear these because the guys I want to fuck know what they are but can’t afford them”), dark sunglasses, his signature strings of Bahaman pearls around his wrist, and a pair of gold crucifixes about his neck. He has poor eyesight and is constantly reaching for his glasses. When he speaks, he lowers his chin and leans in intently, fixing a gaze with dark eyes that are at once doelike and cutting.
“Gays are smarter than anyone else,” Yiannopoulos says. “They’re overrepresented as artists and inventors, and there’s a reason for that. On average they have higher IQs, but also we have license to experiment and push boundaries where others don’t.”
And on and on. All this adds up to one thing, which LGBT readers far and wide immediately saw and called out: Out’s editors for reasons that were unclear had made an editorial decision to position this man in a certain way — as a charming sprite who is proud to be gay, adorable as a clown with “doelike” eyes, “intoxicating,” spellbinding. (It should be noted that the Out story calls Yiannopoulos “shamelessly gay,” a bold bit of shamelessly false or incomplete reporting given that Yiannopoulos has said and written many times that if he had a choice, he would choose not to be gay.)
Following a consensus backlash from the LGBT community, Out added an editorial note as a preface to the online story: “It should not need saying that the views expressed by the subject of this piece in no way represent the opinions of this magazine, but in this era of social media tribalism, the mere act of covering a contentious person can be misinterpreted as an endorsement.”
It was obvious to most readers, however, that the story’s writer was “intoxicated” by Yiannopoulos, and did his best to transfer that intoxication to readers. Following the backlash, the story’s writer “came out” as conservative. If he hadn’t been “intoxicated” by Yiannopoulos prior to interviewing him, it seems this gay writer was a full-on addict by the time the story was filed.
Out wasn’t the only unlikely fan of Milo Yiannopoulos. Bill Maher, the humorist who made Politically Incorrect both politically mainstream and entertaining, booked Yiannopoulos for an interview and immediately drew a backlash. Yiannopoulos as a guest on Maher’s show doesn’t seem too surprising on the surface: Bill Maher is a proponent of free speech, and he has complained for years that his college speaking engagement income has dried up because college campus climates today are too sensitive for politically insensitive comedy. More than that, Bill Maher helped to make Ann Coulter a household name by booking her as a regular panelist on his shows, and he ultimately admitted that she is a close friend of his despite what he claims to be political differences. So booking Yiannopoulos, Coulter’s copycat and heir apparent, shouldn’t have been a huge surprise.
But the interview was a surprise. Yiannopoulos sat hunched in his chair in a RuPaul’s Drag Race-worthy mask of makeup and dripping in pearls (part of his brand identity). The social media photos didn’t quite translate to a national television show. My eyes and ears couldn’t help wondering if Yiannopoulos’s blatant hatred for transgender people might be coming from a place of personal self-disgust. The troll who is so bold, so vicious in his social media presence had little of the confident bluster he shows to audiences that fawn over him.
Maher for his part was…was he intoxicated? That’s what it looked like. He volleyed softball questions and at times appeared, if I didn’t know better, flirtatiously. Maybe Maher had consumed the saccharine Out story and wanted a little piece of Loki’s black heart.
Following Yiannoloulos’s supernova collapse after his pedophilia-defense videos became well known, Maher took credit for Yiannopoulos’s career implosion. Now that the dust has settled and Yiannopoulous is a best-selling author, Maher welcomes him back.
He’s got charisma.
His fans would argue that he’s attractive.
But mainly, I suspect, it’s that he, like Trump and Coulter, gives voice to other people’s hatred. And by 2017, one realization everyone across party lines has come to is that there are a shitload of seriously hateful people in the United States of America. Where else would Yiannopoulos go to make a career as a human troll?
Like many, I was astounded that Out was so dismissive of the extraordinarily cruel words Yiannopoulos has uttered about transgender people. During one of his university speaking engagements, he called a transgender student who was in the audience a “tranny” and laughed that “the way you know he’s failed is that I can still bang him.” His audience went wild, becoming one mass of harassment. The student told this to Broadly:
“When you have a room full of people that are just laughing at you as if you’re some freak of nature, like you have some kind of mental illness — which is how he described me — it’s like, I don’t even know how to describe it, but it was way too much.”
Out purports to be a magazine that equally represents a diverse community of gay and bisexual women and men and transgender people. Within over 5,000 words, this is all Out had to say about Yiannopoulos’s views of transgender people:
He is less generous toward the transgender community. “On the one hand, you have the trans lobby that’s all about control and oppression and misery and victimhood and grievance culture. And then drag queens, which is about taking the same kind of pain and expressing it through gender-defying comedy and transgression and subversion. I’m very much in the second camp.”
Yiannopoulos in his book announcement called transgender people “mentally ill trannies.” He published a speech he calls “Trannies are Gay.” In that speech, he said this:
Of course many trannies, or those that make up their own new gender, are not actually retarded. But they are deeply mentally damaged, and they are failed by a liberal establishment obsessed with making them feel good about themselves.
But reading the Out story, you’d never know any of this. You’d come away believing that Yiannopoulos likes drag queens and doesn’t understand transgender people; you wouldn’t think, as an LGBT reader of Out, that Out was in fact profiling a man who encourages hoards of people to single out and turn on a transgender college student en masse.
On Maher’s show, Yiannopoulos stated his refrain, calling transgender people “confused” and “mentally ill.” Worse though, he said that they are “disproportionately involved” in sex crimes — in such a way as to convey a false notion that they are the perpetrators of sex crimes. They are disproportionately involved — as victims of sexual assaults by others. Maher seemed vaguely amused by the comments and he didn’t challenge or question the veracity of Yiannopoulos’s sexual assault claims; he simply listened and let his viewers listen and believe what Yiannopoulos said. At best, he was indifferent. Another Maher panelist, Larry Wilmore, had to assume the role of moderator that Maher is paid to play while he’s in front of the camera. Maher didn’t want to be bothered, or else maybe he was under the spell of the intoxicating MILO.
It’s one thing to see a straight sexagenarian like Maher literally shrug when Yiannopoulos suggested that transgender people are sexual predators. “I don’t know,” Maher muttered. He really didn’t care, either. Not his problem.
It’s something else entirely to see Out gloss over this blatantly false and dehumanizing propaganda campaign of Yiannopoulos even as the magazine dedicated more than 5,000 words and conceptual portraits to accompany the story. Out’s editors seemed genuinely puzzled by the backlash against its article. (Which made me wonder…does Out employ any trans people? Hard to know, but looking at its masthead, it appears that nearly all of the editors are men.) The people behind the magazine refused to offer any sort of apology to their LGBT readers who were puzzled by the bizarre story, insisting that the story was “top-notch” journalism.
Could Essence magazine get away with dressing up a racist in a clown outfit and writing about how charming that racist is with only a passing mention of that person’s racism? It’s hard to imagine. Yet Out and Maher both embraced a man who calls transgender people mentally ill (as gay people once were thought to be), a man who was banned from Twitter for inciting his followers to harass and threaten actress Leslie Jones, calling her an “ape” among other stunningly unthinkable-until-2016 terms.
How did Out get away with its Milo Yiannopoulos story? (Out did get away with it.)
I have a hunch. And that hunch has to do with hatred. Little by little, the “dirty little secret” of the gay community has been discussed publicly, that on gay meeting apps and websites, vast numbers of men write things like, “no fats, no fems, no Asians, no blacks.” It’s standard. It’s blatant prejudice, blatant bigotry. Yiannopoulos may have tapped into these latent, unspeakable hatreds among a population of men who’ve felt too marginalized to admit to their own marginalizing tendencies. It seems he did that for Chadwick Moore. It seems Bill Maher is removed enough from the world of “mentally ill trannies” that, although he stands on principle with respect to many progressive concerns, he just doesn’t really give a damn about this one. Plus, Maher has already come blasting out of the closet with an anti-Muslim campaign so incessant and so vitriolic that it’s now easy to understand why he and Coulter get along so well.
Many people find Donald Trump to be entertaining and “refreshingly honest,” while most decent people regard him as cruel and distasteful. Yet it’s interesting, isn’t it, that when Donald Trump-esque sentiments are packaged as a suave young man with a charming British accent, who can claim some progressive street cred by being gay, people like Bill Maher seem to eat it up.
In Out’s profile of Yiannopoulos, Yiannopoulos said “Nobody should be playing the victim. Nobody should be doing this grievance, oppression bullshit malarkey. Everyone should just get on with achieving everything that they can in their lives.”
Here’s Yiannopoulos a few months later, via Facebook:
Here’s Yiannopoulos the day before he was a victim, via Instagram:
This follows Yiannopoulos’s years-long tirade against female sexual assault victims — rape and rape culture on college campuses, he announced over and over on college campuses during a year-long cross-country tour, is fantasy. No compassion, no empathy, not a drop of sympathy for female rape victims. Feminists are cancer, he says, and his fans repeat it. Rape culture is fantasy, he says, and his fans repeat it, intoxicated.
Yiannopoulos gave not one but two interviews — one with Joe Rogan and one with a podcast called The Drunken Peasants — claiming that adult men who force sex on boys are doing them a favor — he said that this favor was done for him and he is grateful for it.
And then when his quarter-million-dollar book deal from Simon & Schuster was canceled, and his speaking opportunity at CPAC was canceled, suddenly Yiannopoulos was the victim. This is a man of the kind of integrity that could get him elected President of the United States of America one day.
Now he has a book. The book is selling well on Amazon, and it’s amassing an unsurprising critical response (Yiannopoulos, after all, wrote the book himself, and not via unpaid interns assigned his pen name as he was widely believed to have done while working as a presumed journalist at Breitbart):
USA Today — “Hardly dangerous.”
BuzzFeed — “Awful,” “boring,” “terrible.”
Gizmodo — “Not even worth hating.”
More from the Gizmodo review:
Part and parcel to Milo’s affinity to abuse quotes like a high school student desperate to hit a page count, Dangerous is nothing if not an attempt to ingratiate himself back into any group who will have him. Positive name-drops include Ann Coulter, PayPal founder Peter Thiel, Fox News’s Tucker Carlson, Rebel Media’s Lauren Southern, Lucian Wintrich of The Gateway Pundit, YouTube personalities Stephan Molyneux and Daniel Keem, James O’Keefe of Project Veritas infamy, and Trump advisor and former boss Steve Bannon. (The former two even submitted blurbs for the book jacket.)
And of course, Trump himself, whom he frequently refers to as “daddy.”
Simon and Schuster offered Milo Yiannopoulos a quarter of a million dollars to publish his hateful rhetoric. The publisher, as with Bill Maher and as with Out, stood by its decision to reward this person with a pot of gold based on the premise of free speech. Decency doesn’t matter, the story went; we have a responsibility to uphold free speech. Then when Yiannopoulos broke an ultimate taboo — one that thankfully has withstood the breaking down of nearly every other empathetic, compassionate or decent human sentiment — by praising pedophilia, suddenly free speech was no excuse and Simon and Schuster dropped him. Still, Simon and Schuster made the offer. They were going to pay Yiannopoulos for his words, the very words that are now number one on Amazon.
I wonder if the S&S executives regret having cut ties with him. I suspect they do, given sales figures.
Even if they do, I’d encourage Simon and Schuster to donate a quarter million to support transgender rights. Wouldn’t that be something?
I think chances are about zero that that will happen, though, and so I am going to make a few donations myself today in Milo Yiannopoulos’s name to support transgender equality. Maybe you’ll do the same.