The Very Strange Saga of a Straight White GOP Politician Replying to Himself on Twitter as a ‘Black Gay Guy’

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Photo credit: Olivier Douliery, AFP via Getty Images.

Dean Browning, a former GOP Lehigh County (Pa.) Commissioner posted a very strange tweet on Tuesday afternoon, in which he, a straight white man claimed to be a “black gay man” while bashing Democrats in a reply to his own attack on Joe Biden.

And thus an online mystery was born…

The obvious demographic disconnect immediately raised eyebrows and prompted suspicion that the “proud pro-life & pro-2A Christian conservative” had mistakenly forgotten he was not logged into a sock puppet account when he replied to a two-day-old tweet from Browning’s verified account.

“I’m a black gay guy and I can personally say that Obama did nothing for me, my life only changed a little big and it was for the worse,” Browning’s blue check account tweeted. “Everything is so much better under Trump though. I feel respected — which I never do when democrats are involved [sic].”

The absurd and obviously misleading post quickly went viral, and not long after was deleted. Nearly 20 minutes later, Browning returned to Twitter to post this explanation: “Regarding the tweet that is going viral from my account — I was quoting a message that I received earlier this week from a follower. Sorry if context was not clear.”

In fact, there was no context at all, or attempt to claim Browning was purporting to be giving anyone else’s opinion but his own — if he was pretending to be someone else.

Sharp-eyed Twitter sleuths noticed that one of the most frequent repliers to the GOP politician’s tweets come from a “@DanPurdy322” account. “Purdy” launched his account just last month, follows dozens of conservative media figures and national Republicans (along with Browning), and has described himself as black and gay multiple times. After a cursory search, for example, on November 1 “Purdy” used the nearly exact same demographic self-identification as the questionable Browning reply in a different reply to Browning back on November 1.

Also of note, the “Purdy” account has only tweeted 377 times as of Tuesday afternoon, but 73 of those — fully one-fifth — were in reply threads of Browning tweets.

So was Purdy just an alt account that Browning used to boost his own ego and traffic? Browning directly denied it in a conversation with Luke O’Neil.

 The final reveal on this online drama came barely an hour later, when Purdy himself appeared in a video on his Twitter account, saying that he was “Not a bit. Not a sock puppet. [sic]”

“Hey guy, my name is Dan Purdy and I am, indeed, a gay black man.”

Purdy proceeded to confirm Browning’s account, claiming that he had sent the unattributed message knocking Democrats that Browning replied with. But Purdy did add this odd caveat: “I don’t actually know how it was posted, but I did send it to him.”

After defending Trump’s record in office, Purdy circled back to the Browning post and concluded: “What’s the big deal?”

“I sent that message to Dean, Dean accidentally posted it somehow, and that’s the end of the story,” Purdy explained in a not very clear explanation.

And thus, the mystery was solved…kind of?

But wait, there’s more weirdness!

It turns out, “Purdy” is merely a nom de plume. His real identity is William “Byl” Holte, and he also happens to be…Patti LaBelle’s nephew?!

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