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Self-loathing Gays Against Groomers holds “rally” at stadium with only 12 attendees  

"Gays Against Groomers" founder Jaimee Michell
Gays Against Groomers founder Jaimee Michell Photo: Screenshot

The self-loathing anti-LGBTQ+ organization Gays Against Groomers (GAG) held a rally last weekend at Lambeau Field in Wisconsin, home of the Green Bay Packers.

Twelve people showed up.

The sad gathering was another indication of the diminishing influence of the group, which has been riven by internal strife as the organization’s leaders battle over which candidate for the Republican presidential nomination best embodies GAG’s hateful ideology.

The group, founded in Wisconsin by political operative Jaimee Michell, claims to oppose the “sexualization and indoctrination of children.” This largely means opposing transgender-inclusive social policies, LGBTQ+ content in schools, and all-ages drag performances.

Efforts in the state to ban gender-affirming care for minors hit a roadblock this month after Assembly Bill 465 passed both chambers in the legislature, but now faces a veto from Democrat Gov. Tony Evers.

Three lawmakers in favor of the onerous legislation showed up at the GAG’s “Worldwide Rally”, including state reps John Macco, Nate Gustafson, and Joy Goeben, all Republicans.

Goeben held a sign in the sparse crowd reading, “Groom dogs, not kids.” Grooming — which means building a trusting relationship with a young person to sexually abuse them — is a common accusation directed at LGBTQ+ people and allies. Abuse victims say the overuse of the term by anti-LGBTQ+ advocates has made it more difficult to discuss actual child sex abuse.

In January, the Anti-Defamation League called GAG one among many notable amplifiers of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric online that “peddles dangerous and misleading narratives about the LGBTQ+ community.”

In February, Media Matters published a report titled “Grifter Gays” detailing the lie that GAG is a grassroots organization, identifying founder Michell and her fellow co-chair David Leatherwood as longtime conspiracy-peddling pro-Trump operatives with deep ties to the likes of Trump-whisperer Roger Stone and “Stop the Steal” founder Ali Alexander, another self-loathing gay who is “battling with same-sex attraction.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center calls Gays Against Groomers “one of the most notable propagators of anti-trans rhetoric.”

Now GAG’s co-chairs have split, with Leatherwood resigning from the organization after Mitchell abandoned Trump and threw her support to failing presidential candidate Ron DeSantis, the Republican governor of Florida.

Leatherwood took his cue to exit the group following DeSantis’ widely-mocked homophobic campaign video featuring oiled-up body builders and other homoerotic imagery. The video didn’t seem to bother Mitchell.

The group was also mired in controversy recently when a Wisconsin school district was forced to obtain a restraining order against GAG Wisconsin chapter leader Jose “Rocky” Rodriguez, who serially harassed members of the Pulaski Community School District. A county circuit court granted the district a four-year restraining order against Rodriguez.

Over the last month, the group has been suspended from both Instagram and Facebook, though reinstated shortly afterward. Parent company Meta had no explanation for either the suspensions or reinstatements.

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