Metro Weekly

“Gay Satanist”: Right-Wing Attacks White House Monkeypox Deputy

Right-wing Twitter expresses outrage over Demetre Daskalakis's tattoos, his unorthodox style, and even his shirtless photos.

Demetre Daskalakis – Photo: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the latest right-wing social media controversy, conservative online users have claimed that Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, President Biden’s pick for White House National Monkeypox Response Deputy Coordinator, is a “gay Satanist.”

Seeking evidence for this far-fetched claim, Twitter users have breathlessly scoured through various pictures from Daskalakis’ social media accounts — which have since been made private — and magazine or newspaper articles touting his past work as a New York City health official and as director of the CDC Division of HIV Prevention.

Their chief piece of evidence for his alleged allegiance to Satanism is a pentagram symbol that Daskalakis has tattooed on his chest, as first reported by the Australian newspaper the Star Observer.

“Meet Demetre Daskalakis. Demetre was just appointed by Joe Biden to be the official White House National Monkeypox Response Deputy Coordinator. Demetre proudly wears the official symbol of the Church of Satan: The Pentagram. Joe Biden appointed a Satanist to the White House,” Benny Johnson, the host of The Benny Report on the right-wing news channel Newsmax TV, wrote as part of a larger Twitter thread on Thursday.

 

“The Baphomet Pentagram is the official, copyrighted symbol of the Church of Satan,” Johnson continued. “The pentagram has long been associated with various occult beliefs. Satanism, which reveres the accomplishments of humanity and encourages believers to embrace physical wants and desires.”

Johnson included a shortened clip of Daskalakis responding to reporters’ questions at the White House about the status of the ongoing monkeypox outbreak, which has disproportionately impacted gay and bisexual men, and combating the stigma associated with the disease.

He then linked to the original White House announcement of Daskalakis’s appointment, noting that there was “no mention of the Satanism in this press release.”

“Not cherry-picking here. The Pentagram is proudly displayed in his *promotional* photos for a CDC appointment,” Johnson wrote, pointing to photos from a cover story touting Daskalakis’s position at the CDC in Plus, a magazine focusing on HIV/AIDS-related issues.

“It’s ubiquitous on his social media. Demetre has Pentagram tattoos. So it’s a fair question: Did Joe Biden appoint a Satanist?”

Johnson followed that tweet with another defending his search for evidence of links to Satanism. “I’m a First Amendment Absolutist. Demetre has the right to believe & worship anything he wants. Joe Biden did nothing illegal in appointing him. But the American public has a right to know if Joe Biden appointed a Satanist.”

Other right-wing users amplified Johnson’s speculation on social media, 

“[N]o one on the left will see anything wrong with it. Just check the right boxes and it replaces experience or competence,” wrote one user.

“No one is talking about legality or a religious test,” another wrote in response to someone criticizing Johnson’s thread by citing the First Amendment and noting that a religious test is not required to hold public office. “We are talking about the judgment and values, or lack thereof, of the current president.”

“Biden is normalizing perverts…” wrote a third.

Daskalakis’ embrace of unorthodox tactics in reaching out to marginalized communities when it comes to public health — as detailed in a recent Daily Caller article — and his unashamed embrace of his gay identity, appears to be too much for some conservatives. 

“This is Demetre Daskalakis. He is a worshiper of Satan,” wrote one Twitter user. “He is also the new Biden monkeypox deputy coordinator. Gee, I wonder why THIS guy was chosen as a coordinator for monkeypox. I’ll give you one guess. Why is the Biden regime choosing these fu€ked up weirdos?”

Other online users, including Daily Caller reporter Dylan Housman, tweeted about how many of the posts on Daskalakis’s now-private Instagram account featured him shirtless.

But that tactic has appeared to backfire among other social media users.

“This asshole at the daily caller tried to write a scare piece on Dr. Daskalakis, Biden’s Monkeypox czar. It’s kind of worth reading the article because frankly Dylan here fucked up and made Dr. Daskalakis sound like a complete fucking BADASS,” wrote a user called Hank Scorpio.

Former New York City Council candidate Marti Gould Cummings also came to Daskalakis’s defense, calling him “brilliant.”

In response, a user named Shea replied: “All of this only makes Dr. Daskalakis so much more appealing. By doing this, they’re showing us that we have representation who understands our community from within.”

Benjamin Ryan, an independent science reporter and former editor-at-large for POZ magazine, denounced the homophobic attacks against Daskalakis, who is seen in photos wearing a leather harness.

In response to a tweet comparing Daskalakis to the South Park character Mr. Slave, Ryan wrote,  “It was only a matter of time before conservatives began an anti-gay lampooning campaign of Demetre Daskalakis, the White House’s Monkeypox deputy, who has always been an unconventional public servant.”

Ryan was joined by historian Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, who wrote: “Disgusting. Anyone who has been following Daskalakis’ work knows that one reason he’s been so effective is that he’s been able to — and insisted on — doing research/providing care in the spaces and with the ppl many doctors and officials don’t even want to acknowledge exist.”

Daskalakis had not addressed the speculation around his alleged religious beliefs or his shirtless photos publicly, instead focusing on dealing with the monkeypox outbreak.

In a White House press briefing on Wednesday, Daskalakis explained that the number of monkeypox infections appears to be slowing down, especially in major metropolitan areas.

He attributed the decline to at-risk populations changing their sexual behaviors, increases in testing resources, and success on the part of local health officials connecting at-risk individuals with vaccines to prevent the spread of monkeypox.

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