“The sad reality is, this is everyday life for the LGBTQ community,” says Brandon Wolf.
Following some comments he made about Vice President Mike Pence, Brandon Wolf has found himself on the receiving end of intense online attacks from right-wing activists, as online threats on his life.
A Pulse shooting survivor and now visible LGBT activist, Wolf is doing his work to speak out on anti-LGBT violence and shed light on the necessity of equality in the country.
During a Monday night segment of Tucker Carlson’s show, Tucker Carlson Tonight, the right-wing TV host centered on comments that Wolf has made against Pence, originally from his guest appearance with Joy Reid on MSNBC prior to her own media firestorm surrounding her past of writing homophobic blog posts. On the show, Wolf discussed the vice president, saying that he would put LGBT people in “concentration camps hoping to pray the gay away” if Pence became president.
Following the show and highlighting the missue of “concentration camps,” Wolf, 29, later went to Twitter to clarify that he meant conversion therapy, a pseudoscientific and anti-gay “treatment” that threatens the lives of LGBT people across the country; some of Pence’s comments are viewed as support of conversion therapy. The danger of conversion therapy continues to loom, as it’s only banned in 11 states, most of which ban it for minors. But even with this clarification from Wolf, the damage of this statement was already done. After Carlson and his guest, Chadwick Moore discussed Wolf’s comments on the show, online supporters have attacked Wolf’s social media with countless death threats.
For the record, the word I had intended to use was “conversion” camp.
Freudian slip? 🤷🏾♂️
— Brandon Wolf (@bjoewolf) April 29, 2018
In response to the online abuse, GLAAD has released a statement in support of Wolf. Wolf has also addressed Carlson’s comments in an op-ed for The Hornet. Wolf writes:
“For most folks, that kind of relentless barrage would be too much to take. The unending flow of profanity-laced Facebook comments and violent Twitter threats would force most people to shut off their phones and call up their therapists. But the sad reality is, this is everyday life in the LGBTQ community. Gay youth face bullies like Carlson every day in the hallways of their schools. They stare down that same sinister smirk from teachers and parents who would also laugh at their trauma and pain. To be LGBTQ in America is to be laughed at when your friends are gunned down. To have death threats hurled your way when you dare to speak your mind. To be LGBTQ in America is to be vilified for having an opinion while those charged with running the country put their hatred on parade.”
Wolf also spoke with NewNowNext to specify where he sees things continue to go. If anything, this experience has enlightened him on “where the work really needs to be done.” As he says:
“I think what’s most important for me is to highlight that this isn’t about me, but really it’s a broader conversation on what we allow and accept from people in positions of power. I’m disappointed and saddened that we’re in a place in our society that statements of violence are [normalized] but this affirms that this is where the work needs to be done.”
And Wolf is committed to this change. He sees his role as someone to help steer the conversation to other issues, rather than focusing solely on himself. “My personal charge as an activist: how do I, from my little vantage point, help people to see that?”
Moving forward, he also sees accountability playing a strong role in how things can begin to be repaired. “We need a stronger voice from these leaders [on both sides of the political] aisle on what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable. It’s going to have to come from us as a community from when as we see something… we have a lot of mentioning of ’if you see something, say something’ but where is the action to support that? As a community, we have to police each other and ourselves…” Central in this, of course, are those who are marked as prominent leaders, such as Carlson. “They have to be the ones leading the charge and condemning things coming out of their viewers’ mouths, and we should expect that from every single person in a position of leadership.”
As he has been adamant on social media, Wolf is hoping that Carlson will make a statement to his viewers that suggestions of violence, online or in real life, are “unacceptable and reprehensible.” From there, he also hopes that there is a shift to address the real danger of conversion therapy on the LGBT community. “The reality is that there are only eleven states where it is outlawed. Again, it would be really easy for [someone like Carlson, a leader with a platform] to publicly condemn it and propose a ban.”
Update: Tucker Carlson responded in an emailed statement which reads, “Brandon Wolf told MSNBC viewers that if Mike Pence became president, he would put gay people in concentration camps. That is false, and I said so. I didn’t ‘attack a survivor of the Pulse nightclub massacre.’ I fact-checked a talking head on Joy Reid’s show who was lying. That’s still allowed, I think.”