Right-wing clickbait pushing anti-LGBTQ “groomer” smears are increasingly popular on YouTube
Some of these videos violate the platform's policy against hate speech
YouTube is rife with homophobic clickbait content pushing the “groomer” narrative and even calls for children to be taken away from parents who bring them to Pride or drag-related events. These videos, some of which violate YouTube’s hate speech policy, are adding fuel to the fire of anti-LGBTQ threats and harassment that have increased with right-wing influencers like Fox News’ Tucker Carlson and Twitter account “Libs of TikTok” promoting anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.
Recently, brightly colored eye-catching thumbnails labeling drag performers or supposedly LGBTQ individuals as “predators” and “groomers” have been popping up across right-wing YouTube channels. These images sometimes include images of crying babies or the suggestion that drag queens are infiltrating schools.
Drew Hernandez, host of right-wing group Turning Point USA’s Frontlines, released a series of episodes in June related to Pride Month, which he has labeled “Groomer Month,” targeting LGBTQ people and drag performers. Hernandez repeatedly pushed the narrative that queer people are “grooming” kids both in schools and during Pride Month events. Hernandez also referred to LGBTQ people as “mentally ill,” seemingly violating YouTube’s hate speech policy which does not allow claims “that individuals or groups are physically or mentally inferior” based on their sexual identity, and called for parents who bring their kids to Pride events to be arrested.
Daily Wire host, creator of the transphobic movie What is a Woman?, and outspoken anti-LGBTQ bigot Matt Walsh has also uploaded a series of anti-LGBTQ targeted episodes of his podcast to YouTube. The episodes also heavily push the “groomer” narrative with titles including “Groomers Kick It Up A Notch With Public School Drag Shows” and “It’s Time To Confront And Shame Groomers.” The videos are accompanied by thumbnails of drag performers alongside children or schools, and one titled “The Leftist Plot To Destroy Childhood Innocence” features a badly photoshopped image of a woman with a beard holding a baby.
The video features Walsh referring to the LGBTQ community as the “alphabet cult” and claiming drag shows are “harmful to kids.” Walsh also called for parents who expose their children to drag events to face criminal charges, saying, “All of your rights, your parental rights you should lose and every other right and be locked in a prison cell until you die.”
In another video, titled “The System Is Run By Perverts And Degenerates,” Walsh claimed it is “difficult to keep up with all of the shameless perversion and depravity” during Pride Month. Views on these four anti-LGBTQ videos on Walsh’s channel, shared to his over 1 million YouTube subscribers, ranged from 150,000 to 355,000 each.
Blaze Media’s show Slightly Offensive has previously published an episode on YouTube titled “ROASTING the SH*T Out of GROOMERS” that mocked the idea of killing transgender children and the “transgender genocide.” The episode, featuring host Elijah Schaffer and Louder with Crowder co-host Dave Landau, also included Schaffer repeatedly misgendering a transgender teen and calling her “mentally ill,” breaking YouTube’s hate speech policy. (Schaffer is known for participating in the January 6 insurrection and was featured in Tucker Carlson’s pro-insurrection series Patriot Purge.)
Since the beginning of Pride Month, Slightly Offensive has published more episodes to the platform that feature extreme anti-LGBTQ attacks and titles promising “We Weren’t KIDDING! Prison Time!” In “DRAG These PREDATORS to PRISON,” Schaffer declared that members of the LGBTQ community are “all mentally ill,” adding that “there is no demographic on the face of the planet that is more mentally ill per capita than LGBT people,” and his guest claimed that “the whole trans community is quite literally based on mental illness.”
In the video titled “LA Pride Was SICK & DISGUSTING! Here’s Why,” Schaffer called parents bringing children to Pride events an example of “child endangerment.” Later in the episode, guest Marc Lobliner made the absurd claim that “men cannot be bisexual but women can.”
On May 10, right-wing podcaster and host of Blaze Media’s Relatable Allie Beth Stuckey published an hour-long rant against Target stores for promoting LGBTQ-inclusive clothing around Pride Month. Stuckey cited “a terrible video” from anti-LGBTQ Twitter account “Libs of TikTok” of an LGBTQ educator who Stuckey claimed said “a lot of my students are queer because I’m queer.” Stuckey also claimed that “the origin of transgender ideology, it started with a disastrous experiment by a pedophile,” and declared that by offering chest binders, Target is “selling clothing items that are actually a form of self-hatred and self-harm.”
Other right-wing YouTube channels have based entire episodes of content on anti-LGBTQ themes from other right-wing influencers, like Joe Rogan and “Libs of TikTok,” to continue spreading “groomer” rhetoric against the LGBTQ community. The PragerU show Unapologetic hosted by Amala Ekpunobi doubled down by defending use of the word “groomer” against LGBTQ people, referring to transitioning as “sexual abuse” and individuals having their “body mutilated,” and applauding Rogan for his “strong words” against “groomers.” The episode ended with Ekpunobi declaring that “the left is grooming children.”
Conservative influencer Arielle Scarcella and The Post Millennial columnist Blaire White reacted to a series of clips from LGBTQ educators sourced from Libs of TikTok in a video titled “Meet The WORST ‘Groomer’ LGBT Teachers on TikTok.” In the video, White called teachers who talk about sexual identity with students “disgusting bad people” who are “pushing an ideology on kids.”
The right-wing YouTube videos described above have been viewed almost 2 million times and received more than 120,000 combined likes on the platform. The homophobic “groomer” narrative and other anti-LGBTQ rhetoric being pushed by these videos continues to rise in popularity among right-wing media personalities and has become increasingly mainstream on social media platforms like Twitter and YouTube, even when it breaks platform policies – and leads to potential real-world violence.