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GOP Goof: Using Gay Journalist's Photo in Snapchat Promo

GOP Goof: Using Gay Journalist's Photo in Snapchat Promo

Jeopardy Louis Virtel
Louis Virtel (right) with 'Jeopardy!' host Alex Trebek

Louis Virtel is not pleased that his image turned up on a website promoting Republicans' Snapchat coverage of the State of the Union. 

House Republicans have appropriated an inappropriate image to promote their Snapchat coverage of President Obama's State of the Union address: that of gay journalist Louis Virtel, who is definitely not amused.

In what Slate calls "a sad attempt to be cute and hip with the kids," the House Republican Conference used a GIF of Virtel in his appearance on Jeopardy! last year, snapping his fingers after he gave a correct answer to a Daily Double question, on which contestants can wager any amount they please. The GIF graces the Republicans' announcement of what they call #SnapOfTheUnion, promising "an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at President Obama's final State of the Union address" via Snapchat.

Virtel, who writes for Los Angeles-based HitFix and is a former Advocate intern, posted a series of tweets objecting to the GOP's use of his image and demanding that it be taken down -- which, as of this writing, has not happened.

In an interview with Slate, Virtel added, "As a gay guy who is protective and militantly proud of his gayness, it's both hilarious and borderline traumatizing to see the GOP mistake my energy for something in line with their ideals. ... The GOP as it stands is a regressive and terrifying threat to LGBT Americans, and if the GOP can't see that a gay guy on Jeopardy! wouldn't want to be associated with them, it's only further proof of their brutal ignorance."

Virtel's image is at the top of the page promoting #SnapOfTheUnion, but the one at the bottom is almost as inappropriate. It's a finger snap by actor Misha Collins in character as the angel Castiel on Supernatural; Collins is a longtime liberal activist and straight ally to LGBT people. He was a White House intern during Bill Clinton's administration, and last fall he set up a fake LinkedIn account for Donald Trump and sent out a tweet pronouncing Trump a "bad fit" for the job of president.

Collins has also said he wouldn't object to an on-screen kiss with costar Jensen Ackles, who plays demon-hunter Sam Winchester. The show has often implied sexual tension between the characters -- although some LGBT fans consider that a tease and have objected to the lack of follow-through.

And on the subject of follow-through, the House Republicans media folks did not respond by press time to a request for comment. Perhaps that's not surprising since their website features a prominent photo of former House Speaker John Boehner but not Rep. Paul Ryan, the current speaker.

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