'It is now my turn to speak': Drag performer targeted by right-wing activist files defamation suit

'It is now my turn to speak': Drag performer targeted by right-wing activist files defamation suit
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Defenders of the Libs of TikTok social media account try to distance themselves from the real-world consequences of their hate campaigns by claiming that all the anti-LGBTQ harassment account does is share content made by others. But that’s simply a lie. The account singles out to its 1.5 million followers individuals who have done nothing except be openly or pro-LGBTQ.

The account also spreads blatant lies, one of which is now at the center of litigation. While the Libs of TikTok didn’t originate the lie that a drag performer at an Idaho Pride event this past summer had exposed himself to children in the audience, the account picked it up from right-wing blogger Summer Bushnell and spread it even after it had been debunked. It resulted in harassment, which is the goal of these right-wing actors.

That drag performer, Eric Posey, is now suing Bushnell. The Libs of TikTok account, meanwhile, is currently on yet another temporary suspension due to hateful conduct, raising questions about how it continues to violate Twitter’s policies but never seems to get permanently suspended.

“In June 2022, Summer Bushnell falsely stated that Eric Posey exposed his genitals to the public, including children, at Pride in the Park in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho,” the complaint stated. “Bushnell also doctored a video of Posey’s performance to make it look like he had in fact exposed himself. Bushnell knew that Posey did not expose himself, but she lied anyway to gain popularity on social media.

“Her plan worked: her false statements and doctored video received nearly 19 times more views than each of her prior 10 videos,” the complaint continued. “But Bushnell’s publicity was not free; it came at the expense of Posey’s reputation. He now sues her for defamation.”

“The video, which was debunked by local news two days after the event was held, led to harassment against Posey after it went viral on social media,” Media Matters said. But even after it was debunked, Libs of TikTok creator Chaya Raichik shared a tweet from Bushnell that outrageously and falsely labeled the performer a “pedophile.”

Media Matters said Posey was then bombarded by the anti-LGBTQ “groomer” slur popularized by Libs of TikTok and GOP operatives like Christina Pushaw, an aide to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. While Bushnell’s tweet was eventually removed, Media Matters said Libs of TikTok’s wasn’t. “Now Posey is suing Bushnell, claiming she defamed him in an effort to gain popularity as part of the nationwide effort to malign LGBTQ people and Pride Month events.”

And while Bushnell had based the tweet on an outright lie and called on her supporters to report Posey to police, “[a] subsequent police investigation cleared Posey of wrongdoing, and a city prosecutor said an unedited copy of the video showed no evidence of indecent exposure,” NBC News reports. “The allegations of indecent exposure, or other crimes cannot be supported by the evidence,” the prosecutor’s office said. “Therefore, prosecution is declined."

Of course, the goal was never to seek accountability, as nothing wrong had happened. The goal was to unleash a steady stream of harassment against an openly LGBTQ person living their life.

“When there are outlandish lies that are made public and recirculated and take on a life of their own, the person who the lie was about is harmed,” Posey’s attorney Wendy Olson told NBC News. “It has an impact on every single aspect of their life, every day. This disinformation is not true—it just needs to be stopped.”

Posey, who is known by the stage name of Mona Liza Million, said in a statement released by law firm Stoel Rives that “[a]fter three months of silence, it is now my turn to speak.”

“Despite being cleared of all wrongdoing, provocateurs have continued to spread the doctored video of my performance, not only defaming me, but also inciting a backlash towards the LGBTQIA+ community statewide. I have no choice but to take legal action to hold those responsible for the lies accountable for their actions. My hope is that this civil suit puts a stop to the hateful disinformation campaigns being waged in Idaho.”

”The suit seeks monetary damages from Bushnell for defamation and defamation by implication in an amount of more than $10,000,” Stoel Rives said. “Compensatory damages, attorney’s fees, and legal costs are requested, as is a jury trial.”

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