White Republican denies using fake troll account after tweeting he’s a ‘Black gay guy’ in bizarre attack on Obama

Dean Browning

Former GOP candidate Dean Browning sent the internet into meltdown with a confusing tweet claiming to be a “Black gay guy” – but his explanation only drew further questions.

Browning, a former Pennsylvanian Republican congressional candidate who is most definitely a white man, confused Twitter on Tuesday when he replied to his own tweet claiming to be a gay Black man who voted for Trump.

“I’m a Black gay guy and I can personally say Obama did nothing for me, my life only changed a little bit and it was for the worse,” he tweeted from his main account. “Everything is so much better under Trump though. I feel respected – which I never do when Democrats are involved.”

The tweet was accompanied by Browning’s own profile picture, clear for all to see as a verified white man. He quickly deleted it but not before it caught the eye of Twitter users, who promptly roasted him for the apparently false claim.

For anyone familiar with sock puppet accounts online, Browning’s mistake seemed obvious – he’d accidentally exposed himself running a fake burner account purporting to be a Black gay Trump supporter, which he forgot to switch to before posting.

But of course Browning had another explanation: “I was quoting a message that I received earlier this week from a follower.”

The plot thickened a few minutes later when Washington Post journalist Phillip Bump claimed to have found the smoking gun: the fake account in question.

“You know who replies to Dean Browning a lot? ‘Dan Purdy’, a gay Black Trump supporter who joined Twitter in October,” he tweeted, including screenshots of Purdy’s frequent replies to Browning.

The profile picture on the @DanPurdy322 account was a cartoon of a Black man wearing a beanie as its avatar and a Trump 2020 logo as its header. A quick look through the account revealed a history of racist and sexist remarks, including “Black people can’t count” and “Black women will be the death of America”.

Then, things got weird: the account posted a video of a Black man who claimed to be Dan Purdy himself, and insisted that Browning’s tweet was a real message from him.

“My name is Dan Purdy, and I am indeed a Black, gay man,” he said in the minute-long video. “Donald Trump has never done anything to hurt me, either as a gay man or as a Black man, nor has he done anything to hurt anybody in the four years he’s been in office because he hasn’t had time to!

“So what’s the big deal? I sent that message to Dean, Dean accidentally posted it somehow, that’s the end of the story. No, he’s not a sock puppet. No, I’m not a bot.”

Twitter… was not convinced. “How much is he paying you?” commenters asked, accusing the man of being a hired actor. The video was viewed more than 200,000 times before Twitter permanently suspended the account for violating the platform’s rules – and then things got even weirder.

Internet sleuths began to uncover the many different names “Dan Purdy” uses online. On LinkedIn he goes by the name William Holte, and on Twitter he’s listed under a suspended account with several other aliases, including “Pat Riarchy” and “White Goodman”.

Stranger still, Dan Purdy’s photos and avatar have been traced to the Facebook account of Byl Holte, otherwise known as the adopted son and nephew of music legend Patti LaBelle. Yes, really.

While this may seem like a stretch, Byl Holte has actually written several articles on Medium complaining about feminism and anti-racism in the media and proudly calls himself an “anti-feminist TV critic”, according to Vox.

But as the fiasco continues, Browning is sticking to his original story, no matter how unlikely it now seems. His latest tweet reads: “Once Pennsylvania audits the vote, the truth will set us free.” We can only hope.