Breaking! Meet The Gross Anti-Gay Bigot, Insurrectionist 'Libs Of Tik Tok'
It seems a single Twitter account has fueled the rightwing outrage machine. Taylor Lorenz at the Washington Post has exposed the diabolical mastermind behind the Libs of TikTok account, which “borrows” and reposts videos and social media posts, primarily from LGBTQ+ people, that’s specifically designed to freak out bigots.
Videos shared from the account quickly find their way to the most influential names in right-wing media. The account has emerged as a powerful force on the Internet, shaping right-wing media, impacting anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and influencing millions by posting viral videos aimed at inciting outrage among the right.
Libs of TikTok, along with conservative activist Christopher Rufo, recently went after Tanya Turner, a random woman from Kentucky who’d filmed a video gently suggesting that parents don’t react with horror when their children touch themselves, which is perfectly normal. This was taken out of context and presented as if Turner was actively teaching kids how to masturbate, something for which no child actually needs advanced instruction. It was like the 1994 brouhaha over similar comments Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders made, but with the full fury of the Internet and Fox News.
A day after Libs of Tik Tok shared the video, professional terrible person Laura Ingraham ran with it in a segment where she lamented: “When did our public schools, any schools, become what are essentially grooming centers for gender identity radicals? As a mom, I think it's appalling, it's frightening, it's disgusting, it's despicable."
Until today, Libs of TikTok was an anonymous account. Its "tweets reach millions, with influence spreading far beyond its more than 648,000 Twitter followers.” It’s become "an agenda-setter in right-wing online discourse, and the content it surfaces shows a direct correlation with the recent push in legislation and rhetoric directly targeting the LGBTQ+ community.”
This is terrifying. It was bad enough when Rush Limbaugh greatly influenced GOP policy positions. Fox News hosts used to at least read a whole newspaper article before taking it out of context. Now, they’re just watching selectively edited videos from a Twitter account.
Libs of TikTok has become a go-to source for the New York Post, the Federalist, the Post Millennial, and other rightwing outrage engines, and it’s not a shock that prominent dullards Joe Rogan and Meghan McCain would promote its content. However, it’s a little sad that Tucker Carlson’s bro Glenn Greenwald would amplify the site and refer to himself as the account’s “Godfather.” Greenwald’s openly gay and the site clearly targets queer people. How many pieces of silver does Greenwald need before he can comfortably retire?
“The role I’ve seen this account playing is finding new characters for right-wing propaganda,” said Gillian Branstetter, a media strategist for the ACLU. “It’s relying on the endless stream of content from TikTok and the Internet to cast any individual trans person as a new villain in their story.”
Greenwald is seemingly pissed with Lorenz for exposing the identity of the woman who runs the Libs of TikTok account. This account is pro-censorship and actively calls for teachers to lose their jobs if they even mention they’re gay. Given the account’s impact, it’s a stretch to call revealing the owner’s identity “doxxing,” but of course, that’s what rightwing whiners online are doing now.
And then there's this: Libs of TikTok defended grooming and child abuse, when it was advocated by a far-right activist, while later fabricating similar allegations against totally innocent educators.https://twitter.com/RightWingCope/status/1516383910753619969?s=20&t=EL2Ktpc7ZFS8QcKoj-OftA\u00a0\u2026— Matthew Sheffield (@Matthew Sheffield) 1650375526
Chaya Raichik, a real estate salesperson from Brooklyn, is the Scooby Doo villain behind Libs of TikTok. She’s also from MAGA central casting:
Under her first handle @shaya69830552, she minimized covid, cast doubt on the election results and promoted a dubious story about a child sex trafficking ring. On Nov. 23, 2020, Raichik changed handles, this time going by @shaya_ray and identifying herself publicly as a real estate investor in Brooklyn. She began doubling down on election fraud conspiracies using QAnon-related language. Early that December, she joked about launching a clothing line titled “voter fraud is real.”
Raichik is a possible insurrectionist, which might explain her preference for anonymity. She claimed she was on the ground on January 6 and tweeted a play-by-play of the Capitol attack:
“They were rubber bullets from law enforcement. 1 hit right next to me,” she said. She posted videos from the crowd and spoke of tear gas being deployed nearby. After saying she left the riot, she used Twitter to downplay the event, claiming that it was peaceful compared to a “BLM protest.”
After her failed “Biden’s houseplant” parody account flopped – no, seriously — she started Libs of TikTok in April 2021. She’s done a lot of damage in the past year, and once again, we can thank Joe Rogan: Once he praised her account on his podcast, her following went through the roof.
What Rogan called "one of the greatest fucking accounts of all time” has escalated its attacks on LGBTQ+ Americans. Her anti-trans tweets have gone especially viral. She’s leaned fully into the “groomer” libel and has described schools as “government run indoctrination camps” for the LGBTQ+ community. She considers trans identity a “mental illness” and extends the same contempt to queer allies.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s press secretary Christina Pushaw is a big fan and credits the account with informing her own twisted views about queer people and perhaps directly influencing the state’s anti-gay legislation. This should put to rest Tucker Carlson’s lie that Libs of Tik Tok just pokes fun at “unhinged liberals.” The Onion didn’t drive liberal legislation. Besides, “unhinged liberal” is a convenient euphemism for “people who are different,” whom Raichik seeks to politically marginalize.
However, Raichik believes the full impact of her work won’t be felt until this year’s midterms. She’s encouraged her followers to run in local elections and take over school boards.
“These people,” she said, referring to members of LGBTQ+ community, “some of them are literally evil and grooming kids, they should not be in schools, they should not be teachers.”
It’s a mistake to dismiss Raichik as an online crackpot. She clearly has mainstream support and has achieved in a few months what it took Anita Bryant and Phyllis Schlafly years to accomplish. We never seem to realize we’re fighting a war until we’re very close to losing.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."