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What Is Gays Against Groomers?

What Is Gays Against Groomers?

Gays Against Groomers and Jaimee Michell

Even though it claims to be a grassroots organization, many believe Gays Against Groomers is funded by right-wing groups that are directly and indirectly supporting DeSantis.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis misjudged how much homophobia his LGBTQ+ supporters would ignore as Republicans embarked on a quest to outbigot each other in the run-up to the 2024 presidential election. Because of the viciously homophobic political advertisement he promoted, Gays Against Groomers, his most enthusiastic LGBTQ+ support group, began to collapse. But what is Gays Against Groomers?

Even though it claims to be a grassroots organization, many believe it is funded by right-wing groups that are directly and indirectly supporting DeSantis.

In a report released in January, the Anti-Defamation League listed Gays Against Groomers as a notable amplifier of anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric.

The group spreads dangerous and misleading narratives about the LGBTQ+ community and is always quick to claim that it and its members are “coalitions of gay people” so therefore they cannot be accused of being anti-LGBTQ+.

Who Are Gays Against Groomers?

While the group’s cofounders have made guest appearances on Fox News and right-wing podcasts following the recent anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric surge, Jaimee Michell and David Leatherwood have worked for right-wing communications firms that represented conservative figures who attempted to capitalize on anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment in recent years.

Michell and Leatherwood’s recent employment history underscores their far-right heritage — a past that includes the promotion of the QAnon conspiracy theory, their close involvement in efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results, and their emphatic support for violent actions carried out by January 6 insurrectionists, Media Matters reports.

Michell claims she cofounded GAG last year to combat the “sexualization, indoctrination, and medicalization” of children.

Michell’s group has been promoted to far-right audiences by One America News and Infowars. A frequent guest on former Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s show, she recently spoke at the anti-government extremist group Moms for Liberty convention in Philadelphia. The Southern Poverty Law Center designated the organization as such recently.

At Turning Point USA’s AmericaFest convention last year, GAG leaders mingled with white nationalists, far-right personality and former White House aide Steve Bannon, and killer Kyle Rittenhouse, who was found not guilty of murder after shooting several people during unrest in Kenosha, Wis., in 2020.

In its report, ADL also highlighted that GAG coordinates with far-right groups such as Moms for Liberty. Like Moms for Liberty, GAG’s members are encouraged to attend school board meetings and oppose LGBTQ-inclusive policies. Last September, it harassed Miami-Dade County School Board members into voting against LGBTQ+ History Month recognition.

What's Happening to Gays Against Groomers Now?

Leatherwood, meanwhile, has publicly stated that he no longer works with the group because of Michell’s continued support for DeSantis.

According to Media Matters LGBTQ+ program director Ari Drennen, GAG is imploding as dozens of its leaders have abruptly quit.

“Important context as a Gays Against Groomers founder quits over allegations that cofounder Jaimee Michelle is on the DeSantis payroll: more than 23 members of the org have quit recently, including the Director of Operations, Director of Chapters, and NY Chapter leader,” she wrote.

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