Milo Yiannopoulos: Five Things to Know

1. Milo Yiannopoulos is a controversial media personality and provocateur.

While he refers to himself as "the world's most fabulous supervillain,” and claims to be a conservative and a fearless bulwark against the encroaching forces of “political correctness,” Yiannopoulos is in actuality a provocateur who specializes in attacking groups he dislikes. He particularly despises the left and promotes what he calls “a new cultural libertarianism.”

Yiannopoulos is the founder of The Kernel, an online tabloid magazine about technology, which was sold in 2014. He then became an editor at Breitbart, an ultra-conservative news and opinion website that has promoted racist and anti-Muslim themes. He has since resigned from Breitbart after controversial statements he made about pedophilia came to light in February 2017 and caused an uproar on social media.

Yiannopoulos rose to prominence during the “Gamergate” controversy, publishing a column on Breitbart denouncing the “feminist bullies tearing the video game industry apart.” This was a momentous stand for Yiannopoulos, as it energized and attracted an audience that was tired of the “guilt-mongerers,” as he put it, among feminists and other civil rights groups, which he, dismissively call “SJWs,” or “social justice warriors.”

2. Yiannopoulos is a misogynistic, racist, xenophobic, transphobic troll who is extremely good at getting people to pay attention to him.

Yiannopoulos has capitalized on his growing visibility, launching vicious trolling attacks on women, Black Lives Matter activists, transgender people, and Muslims.

His attacks have a range of far-flung targets, including African-American comedian and actor Leslie Jones, who temporarily left Twitter in 2016 after Yiannopoulos incited a campaign of racist misogyny against her. The Twitter campaign was in reaction to Jones starring in a remake of the movie “Ghostbusters” and included references to her as a man and an ape. Yiannopoulos was then banned from Twitter, thus losing his base of over 300,000 followers on the social media platform. 

He has also referred to feminism as a “cancer” and embraced the “Gamergate” controversy, where women involved in the videogame industry were subject to online abuse, including rape and death threats.

Yiannopoulous has also promoted anti-Muslim views.  He held an event called “Wake Up!” during the 2016 Republican Convention that featured anti-Muslim activists such as Pamela Geller and Geert Wilders, a Dutch politician.

In addition, Yiannopoulos created a "Privilege Grant" for white men only, which is in line with his effort to promote white identity and push back against diversity and multiculturalism. The grant is described "as exclusively available to white men who wish to pursue thier post-secondary education on equal footing with their female, queer and ethnic minority classmates."

3. Yiannopoulos has conducted a controversial, inflammatory college tour throughout the U.S.

In 2016, Yiannopoulos started his “Dangerous Faggot” tour, visiting college campuses across the country to rail against issues such as feminism, political correctness, transgender rights, and Black Lives Matters. It is often conservative groups on campus that invite Yiannopoulos to visit and his appearances cause tremendous controversy and have even led to violence. In January 2017, a man was shot during a protest of Yiannopoulos’ talk at the University of Washington in Seattle.  A week earlier, protests shut down his talk at the University of California Davis. In early February 2017, violent protests also caused his talk at the University of California Berkeley to be canceled.

Yiannopoulous’ actions and words on campus have had other repercussions He outed a transgender student at the University of Wisconsin during a stop on his “Dangerous Faggot” tour. Yiannopoulos, who is gay, displayed a photo of a transgender woman and named her – in front of an audience of 300 people, plus online viewers. “The way you know he’s failed is I can still bang him,” Yiannopoulos announced, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The student, who had protested a university policy requiring transgender students to cover “non-conforming genitalia” at all times while using campus locker rooms, quickly withdrew from school, according to university officials.

4. He is associated with the alt right but is more of an alt right apologist.

In March 2016, Yiannopoulos co-wrote an article on Breitbart that championed the alt right and was generally dismissive of its racism, anti-Semitism, and white supremacy. In the article, he called the ideologues of the alt right “dangerously bright.” He also said that the young rebels of the alt right were “drawn to the alt-right for the same reason that young Baby Boomers were drawn to the New Left in the 1960s: because it promises fun, transgression, and a challenge to social norms they just don’t understand.”

Although many media outlets refer to Yiannopoulos as a leader of the alt right, the white supremacists of the alt right reject him due to his alleged Jewish lineage (he actually identifies as a Catholic), his homosexuality, and his promotion of inter-racial sex. Nonetheless, he is part of the alt right orbit, since he agrees with its views against immigration, globalism, political correctness, and mainstream conservatism. In turn, the alt right views him as part of what they call the “alt light” –people who accept a lot of the alt right’s views but reject white supremacy and anti-Semitism. Yiannopoulos may, however, serve as a gateway to the alt right for his fans.

5. Yiannopoulos gained more notoriety through a 2016 book deal with a major book publisher, which has since been canceled.

In December 2016, Yiannopoulos inked a $250,000 book deal with Simon & Schuster for his memoir “Dangerous.” The news prompted a widespread backlash against the publishing house and swagger from the newly minted author. “I met with top execs at Simon & Schuster earlier in the year and spent half an hour trying my hardest to shock them with lewd jokes and outrageous opinions,” Yiannopoulos announced. “I thought they were going to have me escorted from the building but instead they offered me a wheelbarrow full of cash.” The book deal was canceled in February 2017 after comments he made on pedophilia surfaced. The comments also caused the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) to rescind their invitation to Yiannopoulos to speak at their 2017 event.

He also gained notoriety when the online publication LGBTQ Nation named Milo "Person of the Year” in 2016. This came about after he got the most online votes, thanks at least in part to stories posted on Breitbart and 4chan urging followers to support him.

In the article announcing Milo’s win, LGBTQ Nation editors wrote: “Hate him or love him, one thing Yiannopoulos truly excels at is getting attention for himself and his causes.”