“She was bullied a lot by Republicans. I can relate to that”
Stop in on any given night at Revolver, a popular West Hollywood gay bar, and you’ll be bombarded by visions of perfectly chiseled men and underwear-clad dancers.
But instead of ogling go-go boys, the 200 or so men who arrived on this particular evening in late April were there to pay homage to their queen.
Queen Hillary, that is.
“Gay men love powerful women,” said Alex Mohajer. “And not just because it’s campy. We identify with her.”
A lawyer by day, Mohajer is the political director of Bros4Hillary, a grassroots organization boasting mostly gay men from Los Angeles (though its founders insist it’s open to anyone) that was throwing its first major event at the bawdy bar. The group started as little more than a Facebook page, but for reasons even its organizers can’t quite explain, it took off.
These days, “Bros4Hillary” has close to 8,000 members, including some of Clinton’s own campaign staffers. The group has also raised some cash for its candidate — about $9,000 so far.
“I was really surprised at the response,” founder Nelson Melegrito told TheWrap. “It just exploded.”
In an effort to gain attention on social media, “Bros4Hillary” produced a series of sexy memes, including one featuring a hunky firefighter that reads: “We’ll Put Out Your Bern,” a jab at Sen. Bernie Sanders’ ubiquitous catchphrase.
It seems gay men are flocking to Clinton this election cycle. A February survey conducted by the gay dating app SCRUFF found that more than 63 percent of respondents supported Clinton for president, while less than half — 31 percent — backed Sanders.
Clinton also scored the endorsement of major gay organizations, including Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT advocacy group in the country, and Equality PAC, a political action committee formed by leaders of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus.
Despite being painted as part of the establishment by the Sanders campaign, when it comes to many in the gay community, Clinton is seen as the underdog candidate.
“She’s so qualified, we forget that she’s a woman vying for the biggest, hardest job in the country,” Mohajer said. “Having been vilified as a community, you’re on the outside looking in. And so is Hillary.”
According to psychotherapist Adam D. Blum, who serves as the director and founder of the Gay Therapy Center in Los Angeles and San Francisco, there’s a reason gay men are drawn to Clinton.
“The story of women who’ve had to overcome adversity is appealing to them,” Blum told TheWrap. “Gay men have been the outsiders in a world of straight male power.”
Some of those who grew up in the days before “Queer as Folk” and “Will & Grace” seem to relate to Clinton on an even deeper level than, say, Millennials. As one 40-year-old “Bros4Hillary” member, who preferred his name not be used, told TheWrap, “She was bullied a lot by Republicans. I can relate to that.”
The gay community is one of the most sought-after voting blocs, particularly when it comes to donations. The combined buying power of the U.S. LGBT adult population for 2014 was estimated at a whopping $884 billion, according to an analysis by Witeck Communications, a D.C.-based pubic relations and marketing firm.
Gay Hollywood has already rolled out the rainbow carpet for Clinton. Ellen DeGeneres, “I Am Cait” star Candis Cayne, Jim Parsons, Michael Kors, Rosie O’Donnell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Chris Colfer, Greg Berlanti, Lee Daniels, Andrew Rannells, Elton John and Ricky Martin have all endorsed her.
Sanders, on the other hand, has only a handful of LGBT celebrity backers, including Heather Matarazzo, Ezra Miller and singer Meshell Ndegeocello.
Over the years, Clinton has become something of an icon in the gay community. Despite a mixed history on LGBT issues, she’s managed to establish herself as a champion of LGBT rights.
Critics are quick to point out that she did not endorse gay marriage until 2013, after polls showed most Americans were on board with the idea. (Clinton owned up to that in a “Saturday Night Live” skit last October.) In March, Clinton ruffled feathers when she praised former First Lady Nancy Reagan’s “effective, low-key advocacy” of HIV/AIDS, praise she was forced to walk back after AIDS advocates corrected her: The Reagans were widely criticized for largely ignoring the AIDS epidemic.
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But Clinton’s supporters note she’s been a strong advocate for HIV research and has appeared at countless gay events over the years. Her signature 2011 gay rights speech in front of the United Nations as secretary of state — declaring that “gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights” — remains to this day one of the most significant moments in LGBT history. And in April 2015, Clinton made history again when her official campaign launch video featured two men holding hands, a first for any presidential candidate.
“She’s thoughtful and she cares,” said Mohajer. “She’s undoubtedly an ally.”