In recent months, a handful of high-follower social media accounts have driven the rapid spread of dangerous and false narratives designed to marginalize and demonize the LGBTQ+ community. Online amplifiers of anti-LGBTQ+ hate and extremism use their influence to push baseless tropes and conspiracy theories to their millions of followers. These claims are frequently picked up by major far right media personalities, expanding their reach. Online amplifiers are key players in an ecosystem of anti-LGBTQ+ hate that drives online harassment campaigns against LGBTQ+ individuals and groups, and spreads narratives which inspire real-world extremist activities, threats and even violence.
The Center on Extremism is tracking several of the biggest online amplifiers of anti-LGBTQ+ extremism:
Libs of TikTok
Libs of TikTok (LoTT) is an anti-LGBTQ+ extremist social media account run by Chaya Raichik. Using false allegations of “grooming,” “child abuse” and “indoctrination,” LoTT frequently targets educators, healthcare professionals and drag performers who either identify as LGBTQ+ or work on LGBTQ+-related issues. Notable narratives promoted by LoTT include an “investigation” into Boston Children’s Hospital and a mega thread vilifying drag shows during Pride Month. Those targeted often report experiencing threats, harassment and real-world violence in the wake of the LoTT campaign against them. LoTT, with a large following of 1.7m on Twitter and significant presence on other major social media platforms, is frequently cited and further amplified by right-wing media figures and politicians, including Tucker Carlson, Glenn Greenwald, Ron DeSantis and Marjorie Taylor Greene.
Gays Against Groomers
Gays Against Groomers (GAG) is an anti-LGBTQ+ extremist coalition* founded by Jaimee Michell. Like LoTT, GAG peddles dangerous and misleading narratives about the LGBTQ+ community, focusing on false allegations of “grooming” by drag performers, “indoctrination” by LGBTQ+ educators and “child mutilation” by gender-affirming care providers. GAG members Jordan Toste and Anthony Raimondi helped organize a December 2022 rally in Ft. Lauderdale, which centered around these false narratives and was attended by the Proud Boys, a known, violent extremist organization. GAG coordinated the rally with Moms for Liberty and Florida Fathers for Freedom – an example of an emerging coalition of far-right parents’ groups. These organizations seek to mobilize parents and other adults at the grassroots level to engage in anti-LGBTQ+ advocacy and other conservative causes, including anti-critical race theory (CRT) initiatives, often operating under the false pretense of “protecting” children from unfounded claims of “sexualization” and “indoctrination in schools.” GAG has capitalized upon this same messaging, even profiting off “ok groomer,” “protect children” and “protect kids from transitioning” merchandise. GAG maintains a large following on Twitter (162K) and on other social media platforms, and is widely promoted by right-wing media outlets such as One America News Network (OANN) and Fox News.
*Note: While GAG claims that they cannot be anti-gay or anti-lesbian as they themselves identify as gay or lesbian, ADL’s definition of anti-LGBTQ+ extremism includes any person who pushes false claims and conspiracy theories about all or parts of the LGBTQ+ community, regardless of how they personally identify.
Blaze Media is a right-wing media company run by CEO Tyler Cardon that employs several anti-LGBTQ+ extremists. These pseudo-journalists are directly involved in organizing drag show protests across the country – a trend that has led performers, organizers and attendees to experience threats, harassment and outbreaks of violence that have endangered participants and forced event cancellations. Protesters often use false allegations of “grooming” to incite outrage against these events.
Alex Stein, a Blaze TV host, not only covers the protests, but actually attends and instigates harassment against event attendees and counter-protesters. At one such event, Stein was seen promoting “Guardians of Divinity” member David Nieves, who was recently arrested for assault while allegedly harassing openly gay NYC Councilman Erik Bottcher over his support of LGBTQ+ issues.
Sara Gonzales, another Blaze TV host, additionally runs Defend Our Kids Texas – a new anti-LGBTQ+ group designed to appeal to far-right parents’ groups. The group is known for promoting and organizing drag show protests, with their website soliciting citizen reports on local drag performances. Members of the Texas Family Project, an organization partnered with Defend Our Kids Texas, attended a recent drag show protest in Grand Prairie alongside armed neo-Nazis.
Gonzales works closely on Defend Our Kids Texas with Tayler Hansen, a freelance reporter who frequently writes for the far-right media outlet the Gateway Pundit. Hansen recently gained a large following for his undercover “reporting” of drag shows and a corresponding “mega drag thread” targeting the popular “A Drag Queen Christmas” tour, which was covered on Fox News. ADL has tracked at least eight instances of threats, harassment and/or protests leveraged against this tour nationwide; Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also launched a specious criminal investigation into the drag show following reporting by Hansen and others on false allegations of child “grooming” and “sexualization” at these events.
Matt Walsh is an anti-LGBTQ+ extremist commentator for the far-right media outlet, "The Daily Wire." As seen in his anti-transgender content such as his documentary “What Is a Woman?,” Walsh is one of the biggest purveyors of erroneous and harmful narratives surrounding gender-affirming care for transgender and non-binary youth. His “Rally to End Child Mutilation” targeted one such provider in Tennessee and was attended by known violent extremists as well as prominent right-wing politicians. Walsh maintains over 1.2M Twitter followers and nearly 2M YouTube subscribers, and his content is regularly promoted by mainstream conservative media figures such as Piers Morgan, Joe Rogan and Tucker Carlson.
Christopher F. Rufo
Christopher F. Rufo is an anti-LGBTQ+ extremist working for the Manhattan Institute. Previously known for his fearmongering around critical race theory, Rufo has now turned his focus to the alleged “dangers” of “gender ideology” – a baseless, decades-old conspiracy theory alleging that the progressive movement seeks to destroy traditional families and conservative values by expanding the rights of women and LGBTQ+ people. Rufo’s endeavors include a “Parent’s Guide to Radical Gender Theory” in which he promotes demonstrably false conspiracy theories, including that progressives want to “eliminate the words ‘man,’ ‘woman,’ ‘mom’ and ‘dad,’” and that “radical gender theory wants to replace parents with a state-backed sexual ideology.” Rufo has also recently been appointed by Gov. DeSantis to the board of trustees for the New College of Florida, where he intends to “[lay] siege to the institutions” by abolishing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs which include LGBTQ+ initiatives. With 473K Twitter followers and presence on other social media platforms, Rufo’s anti-LGBTQ+ narratives are further spread by right-wing media figures like Tucker Carlson and have even been incorporated into legislation, such as Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
Online amplifiers of anti-LGBTQ+ extremism spread false information against the LGBTQ+ community, which has led to real-world harm. ADL has taken a number of measures to combat the detrimental effects of this vitriolic online activity, including partnering with social media platforms to develop and enforce robust Terms of Service that prevent online hate and harassment. Additionally, ADL is advocating for government partners to strengthen laws against perpetrators of online hate, as well as consulting with law enforcement partners to act on online hate speech that incites violence and/or credible threats. ADL will continue to develop community partnerships with LGBTQ+ leaders and organizations such as GLAAD, in efforts to counter hate speech with positive speech.
The research in this article was made possible thanks to a partnership between ADL and GLAAD focused on countering anti-LGBTQ+ extremism and hate. Click here to learn more about this critical partnership.