Anti-Trump video shared by DeSantis campaign ‘homophobic,’ conservative LGBTQ+ group says

Ron DeSantis wears a suit while speaking into a microphone.
Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks in Philadelphia on Friday.
(Matt Rourke / Associated Press)
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A prominent group that represents LGBTQ+ conservatives says a video shared by Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign “ventured into homophobic territory” in slamming rival Donald Trump for his past support for gay and transgender people.

The “DeSantis War Room” Twitter account shared the video Friday — the last day of June’s LGBTQ+ Pride Month. It features Trump at the 2016 Republican National Convention saying he would “do everything in [his] power to protect our LGBTQ citizens.” Trump was pledging protection from terrorism weeks after the Pulse nightclub, a gay bar in Orlando, Fla., was attacked in one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history.

The video also highlights T-shirts reading “LGBTQ for Trump” that were sold by the former president’s campaign, and his past comments saying he would be comfortable with Caitlyn Jenner, the transgender former Olympic decathlete, using any bathroom at Trump Tower, and with transgender women competing one day in the Miss Universe pageant, which he owned at the time.


The video then switches to dark, thumping music and images of DeSantis, Florida’s governor, who trails Trump by wide margins in polls for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

The unusual location of the house and its comparatively modest $250,000 asking price drew national attention and hundreds of visitors when it hit the market a few weeks ago.

July 1, 2023

It shows headlines about DeSantis signing “the most extreme slate of anti-trans laws in modern history” and a “draconian anti-trans bathroom bill.” The images are spliced together with video of muscular, shirtless men and several Hollywood actors, including Brad Pitt wearing a leather mask from the movie “Troy.”

“To wrap up ‘Pride Month,’ let’s hear from the politician who did more than any other Republican to celebrate it,” DeSantis’ campaign tweeted with the video.

The video drew immediate criticism from LGBTQ+ conservatives, including the Log Cabin Republicans.

“Today’s message from the DeSantis campaign War Room is divisive and desperate. Republicans and other commonsense conservatives know Ron Desantis has alienated swing-state and younger voters,” the group said in a tweet, adding that DeSantis’ “extreme rhetoric ... has just ventured into homophobic territory.”

The group said the Florida governor’s “rhetoric will lose hard-fought gains in critical races across the nation. This old playbook has been tried in the past and has failed — repeatedly.” The tweets also said DeSantis’ “naive policy positions are dangerous and politically stupid.”


Jenner commented, accusing DeSantis’ campaign of using “horribly divisive tactics!”

“DeSantis has hit a new low,” she tweeted.

The DeSantis campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment Saturday.

The video comes as Republicans wade into increasingly hostile anti-LGBTQ+ territory, targeting Pride celebrations and transgender rights and passing legislation to limit drag shows.

That rhetoric has begun to take a prominent role in the GOP presidential campaign that was absent in recent primaries, including in 2016, when Trump generally presented himself as a supporter of LGBTQ+ rights.

DeSantis focused on anti-LGBTQ+ legislation before entering the White House race. He signed a ban on K-12 instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as a ban on gender-affirming care for minors. He targeted drag shows, restricted discussion of personal pronouns in schools and required people to use bathrooms that align with the sex they were assigned at birth. He also went after President Biden for displaying the Pride flag at the White House last month.

Trump himself pledged in a speech Friday that he would sign executive orders on his first day in office to cut federal money for schools that push “transgender insanity,” and would instruct federal agencies “to cease the promotion of sex or gender transition at any age.” Healthcare providers that offer minors gender-affirming care should be deemed in violation of federal health and safety standards and lose federal funding, he said.

Both Trump and DeSantis have also railed against transgender women participating in women’s sports, and have called gender-affirming care for minors “mutilation.”

At Trump’s rally in Pickens, S.C., on Saturday, the crowd booed a reference to Pride month by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.).


“The rainbow belongs to God,” she said.

While such rhetoric appeals to the GOP’s far-right base, it risks alienating the more moderate and swing voters who generally decide general election outcomes.

The video, which was originally posted by the account @ProudElephantUS, was shared hours after the Supreme Court’s conservative majority ruled that a Christian graphic artist can refuse to design wedding websites for same-sex couples.

Liberal justices’ dissent said the decision would “mark gays and lesbians for second-class status.”