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Queer Teen Attacked by Matt Gaetz Raises $1.5M for Abortion Care

Olivia Julianna and Rep. Matt Gaetz
Olivia Julianna says she has a bouquet of flowers ready to thank Rep. Matt Gaetz.

After the congressman tried to shame a young activist for her appearance, she took his hate-filled attack and turned it into an opportunity.

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Update on 7/29/22: The article has been updated to reflect the most up-to-date amount that Olivia Julianna has helped raise for abortion access.

In response to a mean-spirited tweet sent by Republican U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida about her appearance, a queer activist from Texas has gotten the last laugh. In addition to clapping back hard, she has raised more than $1.5 million to support abortion care as of Friday.

Olivia Julianna, a political strategist for Gen-Z for Change, a social justice advocacy group led by young people, revealed to The Advocate that she wasn't prepared for her overnight success but appreciated it. She uses her first and middle names publicly for privacy concerns.

"I'm in shock at the amount of support that we've gotten from people across the country," she says.

Julianna says she could never have imagined the level of impact she will have had with her deft navigation of the situation that Gaetz inadvertently made possible.

As of midday Thursday, donations to a fundraiser she established were $3,000 short of $700,000, she told The Advocate. On Friday that number reached $1.5 million, she tweeted.

"We've now hit $1.5 million raised!! That's 500K+ just in the last day," she wrote. "Any celebrities or philanthropists want to close that gap to 2 million[?]"

"I would like to say thank you to him for giving me such a big platform to share my message and share my work with," she says.

The activist launched the fundraiser for the nonprofit organization's abortion fund after being body-shamed by Gaetz on Twitter. Julianna had responded to remarks Gaetz made last weekend. The congressman mocked abortion rights activists, calling them "disgusting" and overweight. Julianna criticized the congressman's comments online.

"It's come to my attention that Matt Gaetz -- alleged pedophile -- has said that it's always the 'odious...5'2 350 pound' women that 'nobody wants to impregnate' who rally for abortion," she began in her tweet.

"I'm actually 5'11. 6'4 in heels. I wear them so the small men like you are reminded of your place," she continued.

Gaetz responded by tweeting an image of her next to a news article mentioning his comments.

Julianna raised the clap-back level several notches and replied, referencing Gaetz's ongoing potential legal troubles for alleged sexual encounters with underage women.

Then she announced a fundraising campaign on behalf of Gen-Z for Change, a 500-strong youth-led group that supports abortion rights and says it seeks to create tangible change on "issues adversely affecting young people."

A reporter asked Gaetz whether he believed women who attended abortion rights rallies were "ugly and overweight" after his comments at the weekend rally at the conservative Turning Point USA Student Action Summit drew condemnation, and Gaetz doubled down on his remarks, according to The Washington Post.

He replied to those offended by the comments: "Be offended."

It's taken just a little more than 48 hours for Julianna to raise three-quarters of a million dollars.

Among other reproductive health care services, Julianna says donations will be split among 50 abortion funds.

As for Gaetz's political acumen, Julianna says he lacks any.

"I think it's hilarious that Matt Gaetz underestimated me and didn't think that I would clap back in such a strong way," she says.

The incident has taught Julianna one thing that she hopes will benefit other young people.

"It goes to show no matter how young you are, no matter what position of power you're in, you can make a difference," she says. "I hope that this absolute insane event that's taken place will motivate young people across the country to make their voices heard and fight for the things that they believe them."

And Julianna has one final assessment of Gaetz: "He's a joke," she says.

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Christopher Wiggins

Christopher Wiggins is a senior national reporter for The Advocate. He has a rich career in storytelling and highlighting underrepresented voices. Growing up in a bilingual household in Germany, his German mother and U.S. Army father exposed him to diverse cultures early on, influencing his appreciation for varied perspectives and communication. His work in Washington, D.C., primarily covers the nexus of public policy, politics, law, and LGBTQ+ issues. Wiggins' reporting focuses on revealing lesser-known stories within the LGBTQ+ community. Key moments in his career include traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris and interviewing her in the West Wing about LGBTQ+ support. In addition to his national and political reporting, Wiggins represents The Advocate in the White House Press Pool and is a member of several professional journalistic organizations, including the White House Correspondents’ Association, Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists, and Society of Professional Journalists. His involvement in these groups highlights his commitment to ethical journalism and excellence in the field. Follow him on X/Twitter @CWNewser (https://twitter.com/CWNewser) and Threads @CWNewserDC (https://www.threads.net/@cwnewserdc).
Christopher Wiggins is a senior national reporter for The Advocate. He has a rich career in storytelling and highlighting underrepresented voices. Growing up in a bilingual household in Germany, his German mother and U.S. Army father exposed him to diverse cultures early on, influencing his appreciation for varied perspectives and communication. His work in Washington, D.C., primarily covers the nexus of public policy, politics, law, and LGBTQ+ issues. Wiggins' reporting focuses on revealing lesser-known stories within the LGBTQ+ community. Key moments in his career include traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris and interviewing her in the West Wing about LGBTQ+ support. In addition to his national and political reporting, Wiggins represents The Advocate in the White House Press Pool and is a member of several professional journalistic organizations, including the White House Correspondents’ Association, Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists, and Society of Professional Journalists. His involvement in these groups highlights his commitment to ethical journalism and excellence in the field. Follow him on X/Twitter @CWNewser (https://twitter.com/CWNewser) and Threads @CWNewserDC (https://www.threads.net/@cwnewserdc).