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Accusers Speak Out After Gay Billboard Editor Fired for IG Messages

Patrick Crowley

More accusers have come forward against Patrick Crowley, who until this week was the senior director of Billboard Pride.

Crowley was fired after BuzzFeed News published an interview Tuesday with Nik Thakkar, a British musician who is also known as NEO 10Y. In the article, Thakkar accused the editor of sexual harassment — abusing his position as the head of Billboard's LGBTQ vertical by attempting to solicit nude photographs in exchange for press coverage. Thakkar claimed he was removed from a Billboard playlist after refusing to comply.

"The detail of the conversation between Crowley and Thakkar, offers a rare and detailed insight into the techniques often deployed by those using power to gain sexual favours," BuzzFeed writer Patrick Strudwick stated in the article.

"Crowley used humour. He self-deprecated, in an attempt to provoke pity. He spoke in metaphor, he generalised and used emoji. All serve to disguise his intentions: softened, and couched in playfulness before the direct, unquestionable command: Send naked pictures."

BuzzFeed published the text of the messages allegedly sent through Instagram in October 2018, but not the images of the direct messages themselves. 

After the BuzzFeed article went live, others have come forward on Twitter with stories similar to Thakkar's and have published screenshots of their own alleged messages with Crowley. If real, these messages show a troubling pattern of abuse.

The accusers are all up-and-coming artists in the music industry, and most are queer people of color. Those who have spoken out include Michael Medrano, a Los Angeles-based indie pop artist; Kisos, a New York-based publicist and musician; Alextbh, a queer artist in Malaysia; Graveyardguy; and Mosayac, a Nashville singer. The majority claim Crowley requested nude photographs through private messages on social media — although, in the case of Kisos, the alleged request was for a meeting to "Netflix and chill" after the pair met at a networking event.

In their accounts, the accusers spoke to how the alleged requests from Crowley — a gatekeeper of the music industry — put them in an emotionally difficult place as musicians building their careers. The Atlantic, in its summation of Thakkar's account, called the scenario a "digital casting couch."

"What started as a benign conversation quickly spiralled [sic] into unwanted sexual favours," Alextbh wrote in a letter posted to Twitter. "I complied, thinking a photo would shut him up. It was a terrible mistake."

"At that point, I felt ashamed that I was willing to use my body as a pawn to make sure my professional relationship with him is not severed. After reaching out to other people and having conversations with them, I now acknowledged that it's not my fault and I don't feel alone anymore."

Additionally, after speaking out on Twitter, the accusers each received a cease-and-desist letter from Crowley's legal team at The Harman Firm, LLP, claiming defamation. Crowley denied "any and all wrong doing" in a statement sent to The Advocate from his legal team; he also plans to sue several of the accusers for defamation.

In response to these additional allegations, Billboard Pride released a statement saying "that the kind of behavior described is not only deplorable but also completely contrary to our ethical and professional standards." The magazine added, "Billboard expects all its journalists and employees to uphold the highest standards of professional and ethical behavior, and we will not tolerate anything less."

Billboard Pride encourages anyone with knowledge of any misconduct related to Crowley to contact hotline.valencemediagroup.com or leave an anonymous message at (800) 461-9330.

However, for Crowley's alleged victims, the statement does not go far enough. NEO 10Y, Alextbh, Michael Medrano, Graveyardguy, and Kisos released their own statement criticizing Billboard Pride for not addressing "what they will do to prevent this from happening in the future." Additionally, the group claimed Billboard Pride framed Crowley's alleged behavior as "an LGBTQ+ issue, instead of seeing it as a cultural issue that happens to have LGBTQ+ victims."

"NEO 10Y, Alextbh, Michael Medrano, Kisos, Graveyardguy, and many other private victims call for Billboard (not just Billboard Pride) to release a greater statement on how Billboard will remedy the culture that allowed Crowley’s behavior, and on how Billboard will support the artists who publicly came forward and are now facing threats from the former director," the statement read. "The group also wishes to call attention to the distinct lack of support for their voices from artists of all sizes that Billboard Pride has featured, adjacent journalists, and all who pride themselves on being social justice advocates. The silence is deafening."

Read their full statement below.

Tags: Crime, #MeToo, Media

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