Mike Huckabee’s attempt to zing Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) on Twitter this weekend was a spectacularly offensive fail.
In a Saturday tweet, the former Arkansas governor and presidential hopeful appeared to liken Schumer to Brandon Teena, the transgender man whose tragic life inspired Hilary Swank’s Oscar-winning role in the 1999 film, “Boys Don’t Cry.” Huckabee’s remark was a nod to President Donald Trump, who claimed that his Jan. 27 executive order prompted Schumer to shed “fake tears” while delivering an impassioned speech against the Muslim travel ban at a subsequent press conference.
The tweet immediately sparked outrage from a number of LGBTQ celebrities and allies. As many stars pointed out, the implication was particularly cringe-worthy because Schumer lost members of his family in the Holocaust, while Teena was murdered in a 1993 hate crime.
But the best response came from out comedian Cameron Esposito. The 35-year-old, who has never shied away from incorporating LGBTQ themes into her work, cited Huckabee’s gaffe while asking her Twitter followers to donate to Trans Lifeline, a transgender advocacy organization, in Teena’s memory.
Esposito told The Huffington Post that she’d been “struck by the passion and dedication” TransLife’s founders had for the LGBTQ community. Her tweet, she said, helped raise about $18,000 in 24 hours for the organization.
“I’m going to believe Huckabee probably hadn’t seen the film and didn’t know Brandon Teena’s story, which we all should know, because I can’t believe anyone would be cruel enough to make that joke having seen it,” she said. “He’s legislated on us, given opinion after opinion about the value of my community, but he doesn’t know who we are.”
She added, “The queer community is strong, diverse, varied. We are every race, income level, nationality. I will not stand for anyone in my community to be demeaned or left behind.”
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