Pride — with its messages of love, acceptance and self-expression — is a sham, according to conservative gay rights activist Brandon Straka.
The 42-year-old Harlem hairdresser said the gay community turned its back on him once the former “diehard liberal” — who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 — switched to the Republican Party.
According to a complaint filed Friday in Manhattan Supreme Court and exclusively obtained by The Post, the LGBT Center in Greenwich Village discriminated against Straka by canceling his 250-person WalkAway event “LGBT TownHall” in March, days before it was scheduled to take place.
The event was to feature Straka and a panel of two gay men and a transgender woman talking about why they left the Democratic Party.
“I’m considered a traitor. [The community] wanted to silence me, they wanted to roll over me and make me disappear,” said Straka, who is seeking $20 million in damages.
He alleges that the LGBT Center caved to pressure from liberal activists who, Straka said, “mounted a smear campaign.” Some 280 people signed an open letter to the center, demanding that the event be canceled. The letter refers to Straka and his panelists as “racist” and “transphobic.” (One of the panelists, Rob Smith, is black.)
Straka left the Democrats in 2017 after growing “fed up with the liberal-media lies,” he said.
That year, “Rachel Maddow said on Twitter she had [President Trump’s] tax returns — a smoking gun — and to tune in that night. I said to myself, ‘OK, if she really has the smoking gun against Trump, I’ll forget about all the negative feelings I have about the liberal media and Democratic Party.’
“Finally, at the end of her show, she produced two pieces of paper from 2005 that showed he paid his taxes. That was the moment I decided I’m no longer a liberal or Democrat. That was the final straw for me,” Straka said.
“By the end of 2017 I embraced Trump, and by 2018 I registered as a Republican.”
Per the complaint, “the LGBT Center, which ostensibly cultivates a welcome environment for all members … violated their own mission in addition to engaging in unlawful discriminatory practices by specifically targeting particular members of the LGBT Community whose … identity does not conform to the subjectively homogeneous community for which they advocate.”
In its statement of cancellation, the center wrote: “We reserve the right to cancel any event that promotes discriminatory speech or bigotry; negatively impacts other groups or individuals … Permitting this event to proceed would make many of our community members feel unsafe.”
As part of Straka’s suit, he alleges that the center’s statement was “intentionally defamatory.”
(The LGBT Center did not respond to a request for comment.)
Since changing his political affiliation, Straka said, “90 percent of my friends turned their backs on me.” He added that he was dropped by his AA sponsor in December.
“After 2½ years, he said he couldn’t be my sponsor anymore. I 100 percent believe that it’s because of my politics,” he said.
“We used to talk politics when I was still liberal, commiserating when Trump won. But once I started to change, a distance grew between us.”
As a result of losing his community, Straka said, he won’t be marching in this year’s Pride parade.
“It was always my favorite day of the year,” he said. “It’s turned into one big anti-Trump rally.”
Now, he added, seeing the city blanketed in rainbow flags and slogans of love of acceptance only strikes him as “hypocritical … It’s pretty hollow. Right now, the focus of this community is the hatred of this president and anyone who supports him. The so-called love they espouse is not compatible with their relentless hatred in the name of resistance.”
With the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, Straka added, “the LGBT community should be celebrating that we live in a time of true equality. Stop living in fear of a president that celebrates diversity and Pride month.”
*see full story by New York Post