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Fort Lauderdale’s gay mayor was reelected despite facing homophobic attacks from Trump supporters.
Dean Trantalis, the Florida city’s first openly gay mayor, told CBS Miami that he was subjected to targeted harassment while at an early voting location in the city’s Coral Ridge Mall.
“I encountered a number of people who were there on behalf of the Trump campaign who immediately accosted me,” Trantalis said, “calling me pedophile, started calling me a faggot and thought it was fun.”
He added: “They had a blow horn and they were just announcing it all over the place.”
Trantalis said that it wasn’t an isolated incident, claiming that he was targeted at another early voting location and was subjected to homophobic “dog whistle” attacks in the area around his home.
“Right around my house, people, I had yard signs for my campaign, and people attached little pink flags with my name on it within two blocks from my house, which is a dog whistle for someone who’s gay,” he said. “Almost to say, ‘We’re watching you, we’re around your house.’ They wanted to intimidate me.”
It was part of an alleged pattern of harassment against LGBTQ people, with one man — who asked for his identity to be withheld — claiming he was shot by Trump supporters with a paintball gun on Oct. 30.
“When I got hit multiple times I thought I was being shot with a real gun because I saw the gun pointing at me,” he said. “And when I felt myself get hit and it was just one after another after another, I thought I was being shot.”
The attack took place on Wilton Drive, which is home to a number of the city’s LGBTQ bars.
“It’s definitely people terrorizing the neighborhood, the community,” the man added. “It’s clear that they were looking for someone to be able to target and attack.”
Police are still investigating the paintball attack, and anyone with information is urged to contact the Broward Crime Stoppers on 954-493-TIPS.
In addition to the alleged attacks, on election night Trump supporters again descended on Wilton Drive, where they waved Trump flags and yelled homophobic slurs at people, CBS Miami reports.
Despite the incidents, Trantalis was reelected as Fort Lauderdale’s mayor, following his first landslide win in 2018. In addition to making history as the city’s first openly gay mayor, he previously made history as Fort Lauderdale’s first openly gay county commissioner.
However, while the alleged attacks stemmed from Trump supporters, Trantalis remained diplomatic, saying, “I know it’s not the Republican Party. I know it’s just a lot of rabble rousers that are fringe elements of the Trump organization that felt they could come into our city.”
He noted that several of the people who participated in the harassment “were not from our city. They admitted they came from other parts of the state.”
Supporters of Donald Trump have a history of anti-LGBTQ animus. In addition to anti-LGBTQ hate crimes and the number of anti-LGBTQ hate groups increasing during Trump’s presidency, Trump supporters have been captured using anti-LGBTQ language during marches and rallies in support of the president.
In September, a speaker at a Trump rally called for pro-LGBTQ Democrats to be murdered, leading to cheers from those in the crowd.
Earlier this year, Trump supporters protested a Black Lives Matter rally in Pennsylvania and yelled “kill transgenders.”
In June, Trump supporters in Philadelphia responded to Black Lives Matter protesters by attacking them and yelling about “faggot energy.”
Last year in San Francisco, a Trump supporter allegedly yelled homophobic slurs at a man and attacked him with a sword, leaving him bleeding on the sidewalk.
And in 2018, a Trump-supporting California high schooler lost his college scholarship after he was filmed yelling “fuck you faggot” at protestors who opposed Trump’s immigration policies.
Last week, Donald Trump lost his bid for reelection after former Vice President Joe Biden triumphed in the presidential election.
Biden, an LGBTQ ally, has pledged to undo the Trump administration’s more than 180 attacks on LGBTQ people and place an emphasis on LGBTQ equality.
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