'Smells Like Boys': A Night at the DeploraBall - 2017-01-20
When I asked to attend the DeploraBall — the vigorously protested 1,000-person pro-Trump black-tie event causing a rift in the alt-right — organizer Jeff Giesea offered an angle: "There's definitely a Trump baby boom in the works." His DeploraBall co-organizer, anti-feminist activist Mike Cernovich, will soon have a daughter with his wife. And Giesea's surrogate mother is 12 weeks pregnant with a son. Surrogate? "I'm a gay man," said the 41-year-old* businessman, whose mother is Mexican-American. (She supports building the wall.) Will his son have two dads? "It's complicated," he said, describing his relationship as well as the conflicting impulses within his movement — particularly when it comes to gender and sexual politics.
The DeploraBall was a surprisingly queer event. Although perhaps I shouldn't be so surprised: Giesea and Cernovich met, after all, at a Gays for Trump party at the RNC. The two would seem to have nothing in common: Giesea is a gay Stanford graduate investor and entrepreneur, while Cernovich is a gender-essentialist self-help guru whose hit book Gorilla Mindset sought to "unleash the beast" in men. (As an elegantly ironic twist, The New Yorker recently insinuated that Cernovich's new empire may have been made possible by the seven-figure divorce settlement he received from his more-successful ex-wife.) But like Donald Trump, whose inner circle includes his gay best friend Peter Thiel — who was Giesea's first boss and also made an appearance at the DeploraBall — Cernovich seems comfortable letting gay men into his macho tribe. While protesters with signs preaching feminism and resistance to fascism were being pepper-sprayed outside the DeploraBall, Cernovich invited Gateway Pundit blogger Jim Hoft (who came out as gay after the Pulse nightclub attack in Orlando) onto the stage to announce his website's first White House correspondent: "Twinks for Trump" photographer Lucian Wintrich, whom Hoft described as a (gay) victim of the New York City art world's "gay mafia." Leaning into the microphone, a tuxedo-clad Wintrich announced, "I'm going to be the youngest, gayest correspondent in the White House in history!" Someone in the crowd shouted, "Our gays are better than their gays!" DeploraBall's guests, who had paid between $99 and $2,500 to be there, cheered. Soon thereafter, a man with a Flock of Seagulls haircut took the stage to sing.
The most famous woman at the party, Canadian libertarian Lauren Southern, legally became a man several months ago: It was part of an on-camera stunt intended to critique her nation's approach to documenting gender. She now delights in informing male suitors that marrying her would, by law, be a gay marriage. "This is what's hard: I know I'm legally a man, but I'm also male-minded, despite having the female appearance," Southern said. Though she is an avowed anti-feminist and doesn't believe in gender fluidity, the more Southern discussed gender, the more she sounded like Simone de Beauvoir. "It's kind of hard to retain the feminine. I have so much respect for the feminine, but it's actually something I have to work for," she continued. "It's something that should be worked toward. When people put effort in life, it's more beautiful. But it doesn't come naturally to me." She believes feminists are trying to be masculine, whereas she is trying to be feminine. Perhaps, I suggested, everyone could just stop pretending and just be? "If it's natural to you I think you should have the right to do anything. But for the majority of women I don't think it's natural to them, and they're being told to portray a more masculine image," she said, tossing her long, flaxen blonde hair for emphasis.