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Disgraced Mom’s for Liberty co-founder was once a liberal socialite with a gaggle of gay friends

Bridget Ziegler
Bridget Ziegler Photo: Screenshot

Bridget Ziegler – co-founder of the anti-LGBTQ+ hate group Moms for Liberty – has skyrocketed to national infamy for admitting she engaged in a sexual encounter with a woman, the same woman who has accused her husband of rape. Now her hypocrisy has become even more blatant as her former gay friends open up about the Ziegler they knew before she got swept into the right-wing machine.

Ziegler – who championed Florida’s Don’t Say Gay bill and is a leader in the so-called “parent’s rights” movement against LGBTQ+ youth – has used her role on the Sarasota, Florida School Board to advocate for banning LGBTQ+ content from schools. But according to her gay former friend, Nishit Patel, the Ziegler he knew in the 2010s was “really, really sweet and kind.”

“I think they’re hypocrites, especially Bridget,” Patel told the Daily Beast as part of a comprehensive report on Ziegler’s past. “That’s what really bothers me about it, because I don’t think they believe the s**t they spout, because they definitely don’t live it.”

Bridget “breaks my heart,” he added, “Because she was and is, I think, a really good person. She’s always been supportive. She’s an ally. So when they started taking these extra-hardline social views, it just hurt my feelings more than anything.”

Lesbian author Zara Barrie used to see Ziegler at many social events and said she used to be “warm and charming; quirky and kind—and never, ever expressed or exuded a modicum of homophobia.”

“She was well aware that I was an out lesbian and never appeared uncomfortable around my girlfriend and me, who were attached at the hip in those days. In fact, Bridget appeared to boast a slew of lively, close gay friends. After all, she had worked in fashion. In Miami.”

Barrie was devastated by the fact that Ziegler is no doubt having a negative impact on Sarasota’s young people and emphasized again that her “descent into a dangerously ‘conservative’ and wildly homophobic rhetoric felt extremely out of alignment with the sparkly, seemingly open-minded woman I briefly rubbed elbows with in my twenties.”

Friends told the Daily Beast they aren’t sure the Zieglers truly believe in the ideas they preach but rather that Bridget’s husband, Christian Ziegler, has become willing to do anything in his quest for political power. Christian Ziegler was the Florida Republican Party Chair until the rape allegations against him came to light, after which the party voted to oust him.

Friends believe Christian Ziegler is the force behind the couple’s right-wing pivot.

“I think he’ll say or do anything if he thinks he’ll get clout,” Patel said. “He wants power, money, and women. And if this is the route that’s gonna get him that, he’ll do that,” adding that Christian Ziegler saw Bridget Ziegler as “his springboard” into politics due to her likability and reliability.

“Our friend group assumption has always been that he’s the puppet master or he’s the wizard behind the curtain, and she’s the pretty face everybody can vote for,” said Ziegler friend Gabriele Harris.

Despite all of that, Harris said Christian Ziegler has always been the guy who made sure his friends made it home okay, and she can’t picture him assaulting a woman.

Harris emphasized that back when they were friends, Bridget Ziegler “was a girl that partied in Miami and worked at Gucci” and “it wasn’t like, ‘Let’s go burn books and be mean to gay people.'”

“We had friends in our friend group that were gay,” Harris added. “One of her best friends for a very long time was gay.”

During these party years, Bridget Ziegler reportedly appeared regularly in the local society pages and was even named one of “Five of Sarasota’s young socialites.”

The Zieglers became household names when late last year police launched an investigation after a woman accused Christian Ziegler of rape. The alleged victim told police that she and the Zieglers had planned a sexual encounter for October 2. But when Bridget Ziegler was no longer available, the woman canceled, saying, “I was mostly in for her.” She claimed that Christian Ziegler showed up at her home anyway and sexually assaulted her.

Christian Ziegler claims that the encounter was consensual, and late last month, Sarasota Police declined to charge him with sexual battery. A video Ziegler recorded of the sexual encounter with the alleged victim indicated “that the encounter was likely consensual,” police said.

But the alleged victim says she did not give Ziegler permission to film the encounter, so he could still be charged with video voyeurism. 

Bridget Ziegler has admitted to a past threesome with her husband and the alleged victim. In December, she was quietly removed as the director of the School Board Leadership Program at the Leadership Institute, an organization that trains conservative activists. The Sarasota School Board also voted unanimously for her to resign, but she has thus far refused to do so.

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