GOP candidate tries to mock gay people. We turned it into a joke.

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Valentina Gomez believes being gay is weak. History shows that hate and discrimination have made us strong.

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We’re about two weeks away from Pride Month, and a Missouri Republican candidate for secretary of state just gifted us the perfect meme for the season.

“In America, you can be anything you want,” Valentina Gomez says in a social media video as she runs through an idyllic small town in a weighted vest with an American flag emblem on the front. 

“So don’t be weak and gay,” she continues in the Sunday post that’s no longer available. “Stay f—— hard.”

Then, the lyrics to Lupe Fiasco’s “The Show Goes On” kick in and we see a photo of Gomez in front of a pickup and next to an American flag, wearing a hat for the National Rifle Association and gripping an assault-style rifle in one hand, a handgun in the other.

Unfortunately, Gomez leaned too far into the Republican aesthetic. The entire video reads like a “Saturday Night Live” parody of an actual ad for statewide office.

Adding to the video’s absurdity is the X (formerly Twitter) post she made about it, where she tagged alpha male influencers Andrew and Tristan Tate, who were arrested last year on human trafficking charges. Just four days before the Gomez video was posted, the Independent reported that four more women in the United Kingdom are suing Andrew Tate over purported sexual abuse.

The internet was created to meme this kind of nonsense

Gomez’s video is a rich text for internet users who can make a joke out of anything, including rampant homophobia. It already has a page on Know Your Meme, a website that catalogs the most viral internet moments.

Aside from the expletives and bizarre nature of the 25-year-old candidate’s campaign ad, it seems that Gomez has underestimated just how funny the LGBTQ+ community would find it. 

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“Unfortunately ‘Don’t be weak and gay. Stay f—— hard’ has become my motto for the summer,” wrote X user Sam Stryker in a spinoff tweet that had 2,300 reposts and 33,000 likes by Friday afternoon.

There have been countless jokes made on X and Reddit, from comments about her phrasing to questions about the weighted vest she’s wearing in the beginning of the video.

“I went to the weak and gay convention and everyone knew you,” James Line wrote on X.

The cynical part of me assumes this is some sort of rage bait post, an attempt to generate a viral moment through hate clicks.

If that’s the case, it might be working – why else would anyone outside of Missouri know this random candidate for secretary of state? 

History has shown that gay people aren’t weak

Gomez’s use of “gay” as an insult feels very mid-2000s, pre-famous Hillary Duff anti-bullying PSA that played on MTV when I was growing up. 

Maybe Gomez doesn’t know any actual gay people – it’s the only way that she could make such an error in her campaign.

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Gay people have faced and continue to face persecution in America and internationally. The community has been built through sheer strength and determination. From the Stonewall uprising in 1969 to AIDS protest action to the fight for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ folks have had to ask for things that are given to straight cisgender people automatically.

Republicans seem to think a social media post from a fake alpha can hurt us. They need to read the history their party is trying to erase.

Being “hard” isn’t running through small town America. Toughness is the determination to secure your right to exist and love, even when elected officials make it increasingly difficult. It is burying loved ones who died too soon, like those who died in the Orlando and Colorado Springs nightclub shootings. It is weathering the insults hurled by elected officials and candidates looking to score cheap and insecure political points like Gomez is attempting to do here.

Sorry, Gomez. If you can’t prove why you should be secretary of state without insulting an entire protected class of people, I don’t think you’re all that tough. I don’t think you’re that fit for the job, either.

Follow USA TODAY elections columnist Sara Pequeño on X, formerly Twitter, @sara__pequeno and Facebook facebook.com/PequenoWrites

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