Lindsey Graham’s sexual orientation and hypocrisy became a trending topic on social media this week after gay adult performer and escort Sean Harding threatened to out a “homophobic Republican Senator who is no better than Trump who keeps passing legislation that is damaging to the lgbt and minority communities.”
Harding claimed that “every sex worker [he] know[s] has been hired by this man,” whom he named only as “LG”. Followers of Harding and other Twitter users quickly pointed their fingers at the senator from South Carolina.
Tweeted Harding: “There is a homophobic republican senator who is no better than Trump who keeps passing legislation that is damaging to the lgbt and minority communities. Every sex worker I know has been hired by this man. Wondering if enough of us spoke out if that could get him out of office? Fellow sex workers I invite you to stand with me during this crucial time. EVERY major news network is in my inbox including high profile lawyers willing to take this case. There’s strength in numbers – I KNOW you’re out there because EVERYONE has a story about LG when we talk.”
Harding added: “I cannot do this alone. If you’d be willing to stand with me against LG please let me know. …. So far I have two individuals who would be willing to go public and support my claims. Anyone else?”
Harding’s claim led to a slew of similar reports, and “Lady G”, the name by which Graham is allegedly discussed among escorts, began trending on Twitter.
This story on Medium was published and deleted.
The flurry of accusations caught the eye of well-known PR and crisis expert Howard Bragman, who wrote on Facebook, “This could get really interesting really quickly for a certain incumbent Senator from South Carolina who’s up for re-election. Stay tuned to this one.”
Sex columnist and LGBTQ activist Dan Savage approved, tweeting: “Outing is a brutal tactic that should be reserved for brutes. Lady G more than qualifies.”
And SiriusXM host, author, and activist Michelangelo Signorile weighed in on the politics of outing, tweeting: “There’s chatter out there so let me clarify something. There is really no such thing as ‘outing’ — this term was coined in 1990 by a closeted Time mag reporter who had his own self-interest in labeling some of my and other reporters’ work There is only reporting….…Sometime reporting focuses on issues public figures would rather not see made public, and is gratuitous and often unnecessary to report. But other reporting is quite relevant to a story and important for the public to know whether the public figure wants it known or not. “
“Since being gay is not a bad thing — even now according to the courts in a defamation suit — reporting it about a public figure who hasn’t hidden it from people in his/her life, but just wants it censored from the public for business or whatever reasons, isn’t wrong per se,” Signorile added. “If this characteristic, like other characteristics about public figures, is relevant to a larger story encompassing their work, their role, their power, their influence, and is something the public should know — then it should be reported.”
“Some say, well why should the public know? Well, it’s interesting for the public to know if the person is engaging in work that is influenced by their queerness, for example. But more so if the person is working against LGBTQ people it’s relevant. And……If this person is going to come under the microscope when seeking very high public office, certainly this is something that will/should become known. Deception, at that level, isn’t good. An old debate, but remember some of this, as it will keep coming up in the future.”
Graham has a long history of votes and rhetoric against LGBTQ people, with a rating from the Human Rights Campaign of just 12 percent. He was also a vocal Trump critic until Trump became president, when Graham became vocally pro-Trump and one of his most fervent allies in the Senate. Some suggest it was because he discovered Trump had dirt on him.
FITSNews reports: “Graham is facing a tougher-than-expected fight this fall from Democrat Jaime Harrison, who has attracted significant national support (and raised some serious cash) in his bid to oust the third-term lawmaker. Harrison, incidentally, has been the focus of similar rumors over the years … which we care as much about as the rumors surrounding Graham. Still, something about this particular installment of the ‘Lindsey Graham is about to be outed’ rumor that seems … different. Lots of national reporters are clearly chasing it (including several who have called our news desk), and the chatter about numerous male escorts contemplating the consequences of violating alleged nondisclosure agreements seems curiously (disturbingly) specific.”
Of course, Graham has been the subject of gay rumors for years, and we’ve been covering the topic since at least 2009.
In 2009, Graham (R-SC) was asked about rumors he is gay by Mike Stark of The Crooked Dope.
Wrote Stark: “At Justice Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings, Senator Lindsey Graham asked her about anonymous comments offered by a range of lawyers. These comments were negative, mostly having to do with the Justice’s temperament. Leaving aside the fact that Justice Scalia’s acidic demeanor never seemed to bother any of the white male Senators called upon to confirm him, I did think it was notable to ask a nominated Justice to comment on accusations made by anonymous accusers. I especially found it interesting because there is no shortage of rumors regarding Senator Graham’s sexual orientation. That puts Graham in almost the same position Justice Sotomayor except nobody that I know of has asked Senator Graham to respond to the rumors. What’s more, if Graham did have gay relations while a member of the military, he broke the law.”
After his question was brushed off, Stark said to Graham, “I’m guessing that after a long career in the military, you’re not going to dignify any of these rumors with any kind of comment.”
Replied Graham, “Right, right.”
Asked about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Graham replied, “I want to see what the military says.”
“For his sins, Glenn Beck termed the senator Obama Lite, while Rush Limbaugh labeled him Lindsey Grahamnesty. Less tame are the blogosphere monikers, like ‘Miss Lindsey,’ that play off of Graham’s never-married status. During a South Carolina Tea Party rally this spring, one speaker created an uproar by postulating that Graham supported a guest-worker program out of fear that the Democrats might otherwise expose his homosexuality. (Graham smirked when I brought this up. ‘Like maybe I’m having a clandestine affair with Ricky Martin,’ he said. ‘I know it’s really gonna upset a lot of gay men — I’m sure hundreds of ’em are gonna be jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge — but I ain’t available. I ain’t gay. Sorry.’)”
Graham’s opponent in a 2014 Senate race called him “ambiguously gay.”
Even fellow Republican Mike Huckabee has taken jabs at Graham’s life in the closet. Said Huckabee in 2017 to Laura Ingraham, after Graham made some unfavorable remarks about Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA): “I’m very disappointed in Lindsey. I sometimes wonder what uniform he puts on each morning when goes out to the field to play, and I’m not just talking about the partisan uniform.”
Graham commented on the rumors most recently after National Coming Out Day in 2018, when Chelsea Handler tweeted, “If you’re wondering why Republicans took a sick day today, it’s probably because it’s #NationalComingOutDay. Looking at you @LindseyGrahamSC”
Graham responded: “It’s a free country, you can say what you want to say, I don’t care. I don’t think much about what she says at all. If she wants to live her life that way. It’s up to her. To the extent that it matters, I’m not gay….Belittling people is not as funny as it used to be, and that’s a good thing.”
And in 2019, Patti LuPone offered this blunt assessment, tweeting, “Lindsey Graham you are a disgrace. On a personal note, why don’t you just bite the bullet and come out. You might just come to your senses.”
And then there was SNL.
In November 2019, Bill Maher went after Graham’s “hypocrisy on steroids” on Real Time with a list less about the Republican South Carolina senator’s heinous, turn-about political allegiance to Trump and more about the rumors of his sexuality, using gay-coded tropes.
“LadyG” and “LadyGraham” were still trending on Twitter Saturday morning. Harding has not posted any updates to his efforts, though they clearly seem to be retaining steam. Graham has not yet commented.