Less than three months after the out gay leader of the #WalkAway movement told Gay City News he was “going to actively pursue any legal action” against the LGBT Community Center for canceling his group’s planned event there in March, he followed through and sued the venue for discrimination and defamation to the tune of $20 million.
Brandon Straka, who is the face of the movement to encourage Democrats to ditch the party, filed the suit on Friday in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, according to the New York Post.
“I am taking a stand on my own behalf and on behalf of all people in this country who are under attack for what they believe,” Straka told Gay City News in an email on June 17.
The scrapped “town hall” event was set to feature Straka along with Blaire White, Mike Harlow, and Rob Smith, all of whom are involved in the #WalkAway movement. But hundreds of people signed a letter calling on the event to be canceled, sparking a wave of backlash that culminated with the Center pulling the event at the last minute.
The Center said in a public statement after nixing the event that it reserves the right to cancel any event that promotes discriminatory speech or bigotry or negatively impacts other groups or people.
“Permitting this event to proceed would make many of our community members feel unsafe,” the Center said at the time the event was canceled.
White has caught considerable flak for divisive rhetoric, including a YouTube video in which she went after other transgender women who she said “lie” to men they date about their gender identity and where she said the answer to the “migrant crisis” is to “gas em.”
Straka, who bailed on the March interview with Gay City News after struggling to respond to questions about his lack of voting in recent elections and changes to his voter registration, told Gay City News on June 17 that he did not “want” to sue the Center, but was left with two choices.
The first, he said, was to “Allow The Center, the progressive activists mob who attacked us, and the liberal/ LGBT media to have the final word in this situation — labeling me, my fellow panelists, and my organization racists, bigots, homophobic/ transphobic, a hate group, and a danger to the community.”
Those labels, he added, will follow him and his organization for the rest of his life because they will reside on the Internet and in media archives.
He said his second choice was to “Take a stand and take back the narrative of who I really am and what #WalkAway really is.”
“Every day in this country, good people who are not racists, who are not bigots, who are not homophobic, who are not bad people — people who support our president or the conservative movement — are verbally and physically attacked, are intimidated into silence, and have their jobs and relationships and livelihoods put in danger,” Straka continued. “Why? Because they have a political position that is not accepted by the controlled media norm or the narrative that societal bullies deem approved. I grew up enduring homophobia, violence, and bullying — and now, I see the LGBT community misusing their newly acquired power and position to engage in these very same behaviors to silence people.”
In his long email response to Gay City News, Straka said he hopes the lawsuit brings “raised awareness for who and what I am, what #WalkAway is, and what our message and mission is all about, and to show LGBT Americans that we are living in the most luxurious time ever in our existence.”
“It is time for us to forgive the past, embrace the future, embrace our American privilege — and come together to provide aid to ACTUAL oppressed and victimized LGBT people around the world,” he said.
Straka’s call for forgiveness apparently excluded the Center. A spokesperson for the Center brushed off Straka’s multi-million dollar lawsuit, telling Gay City News that it “lacks merit and we stand by our original statement.”
Straka is not only targeting the Center. The Trump supporter also issued a thinly veiled threat on Twitter June 16 to the wider community of “leftists,” saying, “Your reign of terror is coming to a close.”
“There WILL be consequences for your actions,” Straka wrote. “If you continue to label all those in political disagreement with you Nazis, white supremacists, racists, & ruin people’s lives — you better have your checkbook handy.”
Straka, like others involved in the #WalkAway movement, left the Democratic party in the time following Trump’s election, despite the growing list of actions the president has taken against the LGBTQ community during his time in office.
He rips those who consider his movement to have roots in racism, but on multiple occasions he has dedicated tweets to praising white men. In one tweet, he said, “Thank you straight, white men for all you do and all the shit you put up with!” In another, he said used a heart emoji to express his love for white men before adding, “In a time where liberal hatred of whiteness and maleness is considered a badge of honor — let it be known that we have nothing but love and open arms for our white heterosexual brothers.”
He also retweeted a Twitter post on June 14 from controversial conservative journalist Chadwick Moore, who criticized the City of New York because “taxpayer-funded Gay Pride advertisements explicitly don’t include any white people.”
“This is intentional,” Moore complained. “Gay white men founded that Mattachine Society and rioted at Stonewall. LGBT is now-Marxism, not ‘gay rights.’”
In the meantime, Straka appears to have set his sights on other cities to host the town hall. On June 15 he announced in a tweet that a #WalkAway town hall will be held in Chicago on June 29. It is not clear where in Chicago that event is slated to take place.