Join Me On The Insane Rabbit Hole That Is Dean Browning’s Twitter

Screenshot | Twitter

Bring some water and snacks because this is a doozy

Hi there! Hello! Did everyone have a good Tuesday? Was it pretty regular and unremarkable now that the election is over and things have started to return to the pandemic new-normal? Well, sorry to inform you that that part of your day is over.

Buckle up, fuckos, shit is about to get so fucking weird.

Okay, for those of you who, like me, are not familiar with minor players in the Republican Party, Dean Browning is a Pennsylvania-based Republican who ran for Congress this year and lost in the primary in June. Today, though, he managed to become one of the most talked about Republicans in the entire country — for the worst, most insane reason.

Earlier today, in response to one of his own tweets, Dean Browning tweeted this.

 Screenshot | Twitter

If you’re confused and thinking, Wait, is that Dean Browning, a whole entire blue-eyed white man who is married to a woman, saying that he’s a “Black gay guy”? Don’t worry! You’re not having a stroke, that is indeed what’s happening here.

So, the question is, what the fuck is going on here?

That tweet from Dean Browning seems like it definitely was not intended to come from Dean Browning is because, well, it wasn’t supposed to come from Dean Browning. As sleuths on Twitter quickly discovered, this exact language matches a different account bearing the name of Dan Purdy and a cartoon of a Black man as the display picture. But how does Dean fit into this? Well, you know all the talk of fake accounts and “Russian bots” out there on Twitter and Facebook whose sole purpose is pushing specific political narratives and agendas? In this case, the call is coming from inside the house.

“Dan Purdy” is a fake, alternate account Dean Browning was using in order to make his extreme right-wing views appear supported and endorsed by the very people they target and threaten the most: People of color, particularly Black people, and the LGBTQ+ community.

In short, Dean Browning was masquerading as a gay Black man to push his agenda.

Equal parts hilarious and deeply disturbing, right? But wait, there’s more.

It didn’t take long for this extreme fumble to catch fire and spread all over Twitter, which meant Dean couldn’t exactly sweep this under the rug and move on. So about an hour after Dean’s “I am a gay Black man” tweet, the supposed owner of the Dan Purdy account tweeted a video addressing these allegations and denying everything, which was then quote-tweeted by Browning himself.

The video was removed from Twitter because the Dan Purdy account was suspended (which we will get into later) so here is a screenshot, followed by the transcript.

 Screenshot | Twitter

“Hey guys, my name is Dan Purdy, and I am indeed a gay Black man. The message that you saw on Dean’s twitter was posted— I don’t actually know how it was posted, but I did send it to him, because I had a problem with how people of my race and sexual persuasion are treating Donald Trump. I don’t have a problem with Donald Trump on those levels, and I don’t understand why so many pretend to. 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 that 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, and that’s the end of the story. No, he’s not a sock puppet, no I’m not a bot. I hope you understand.”

The internet is eternal, though, so if you want to watch the video you can here.

Now we don’t have time to dissect all of that, but the most burning question is who is this man in the video? Is this actually Dan Purdy?

The short answer is, nope!

The man in the video does claim to be “a Black gay man” named Dan Purdy who has a bone to pick with “people of [his] sexual persuasion” which is, y’know the kind of language any real, bona fide gay man would use to talk about himself. But as folks on Twitter deduced almost immediately (the devil works hard but Twitter works harder), this guy isn’t “Dan Purdy.” His name is William Holte.

Okay, so the next question is, who the shit is William Holte? I’d say “guess” but you literally never would.

He’s Patti LaBelle’s son.

 Screenshot | Google
Patti and her sister Jackie are both listed as William Holte’s parents because William’s biological mother is Jackie, and when she died Patti LaBelle (née Holte) adopted him and his sister

Yeah, the one and only Patti LaBelle. So how did he end up as the frontman in this whole situation, posing as and stating on video that he is this fictitious, uber-conservative gay Black man Dan Purdy?

That’s where things get a little fuzzy.

Turns out William Holte is a Pennsylvania donor to WinRed, an RNC-endorsed fundraising platform for the Republican party.

Oh, also, fun fact worth mentioning, he’s an out-and-proud hater of women. William Holte, aside from being related to Patti LaBelle, is most well-known for writing articles on Medium about how much he hates women (I’m not going to link it because if you really want to read that shit you can Google it yourself, he’s not getting free clicks here) and how the rise of women apparently means the fall of men. Sounds like a lot of personal insecurity to me, but okay.

 Screenshot | Medium
 Screenshot | Medium

Okay, so we’ve established that they both suck. But how does that connect them?

Well, considering that William Holte is a Pennsylvania-based Republican donor with some pretty shitty and loud personal views and literacy in social media, it makes sense that he would link up with Dean Browning, a Pennsylvania Republican politician who is A) equally shitty, B) white and therefore is already taken more seriously in the Republican Party, and C) has a coveted ~*verified*~ badge on Twitter running for Congress and wants to make his alt-right views appeal to voters outside his usual base— immigrants, people of color, and those who believe women should have more rights than an assault rifle would if it were to grow legs and start talking.

But the question remains... who is Dan Purdy?

Both of them! They both are! Dan Purdy, just like Santa Claus, is the collective work of more than one imagination, and is completely fake.

Remember when I said the Dan Purdy Twitter account was suspended, and that we’d get into that later? Now is later. Even though between the two of them, William Holte is the media-savvy and experienced one, he has a signature, the same way villains in murder-mysteries do in that it’s distinct and intentional and seems really fucking dumb to leave behind if you don’t want to get caught.

He uses the same exact display picture for his fake Twitter accounts —of which there have been multiple, because they get suspended for being fake accounts— as he does for his real, personal Facebook account.

 Screenshot | Twitter
 Screenshot | Facebook

Nothing says ‘legitimate’ like putting “I’m a gay black gay guy” in your bio

And the only way that the tweet intended for “Dan Purdy” could end up coming from Dean Browning’s Twitter account is if either Dean or William didn’t know they were signed into the wrong account when they tweeted it, and the only way they would’ve been confused about which account they were signed into is if they had signed into multiple accounts and could toggle back-and-forth between them in Twitter.

If you have the login information for more than one account, you don’t have to sign out of any of them in order to switch between them. For example, I can access my own personal Twitter account, but I can also access the Funny Or Die account.

 Screenshot | Twitter
This shows the account I am currently active on...
 Screenshot | Twitter
...but if I click that bar, I can switch between both the accounts I have access to

So whoever posted that tweet about being “a gay Black guy” did so before checking to make sure that they’re active on the correct account, which seems like a Scooby Doo-level fuck up to me, but hey, it’s probably hard to juggle a bunch of bullshit accounts at once. The only real question left is, if both Dean and William were managing and had access to Dean’s and the fake accounts, then who shit the bed and tweeted from the wrong account?

The truth is we don’t know, and it’s impossible to say for sure.

But! I do have a theory.

We’ve asserted that William Holte is savvy at minimum on Facebook, Medium, and Twitter, so with that in mind—

1. Anyone literate and well-versed in social media knows that the internet is forever.

Listen, as someone who also manages a personal account and a shared account (the company I work for, in this case) there is nothing like feeling your stomach fall out of your ass when you see that you’ve posted from the wrong account, and the immediate reaction is “oh fuck delete delete delete.” That did not happen in this case. This accidental tweet was left up for so long that it garnered the attention of, well, pretty much everyone online, even though Dean Browning only has around 50K followers and is not a key Republican by any means.

So that means whoever messed up didn’t realize they messed up, and also didn’t act quickly enough to try and retract it.

2. The video posted by William Holte posing as “Dan Purdy” was, on all fronts, super fucking weird

As stated in the above point, if you fuck the pooch this badly and you are the one dealing with the result, the response would be pretty immediate. But in this case the first response was twenty minutes after the tweet in question was posted, and that first reaction was another tweet by Dean Browning that was.... panicky at best.

If you’re “quoting a message” from a follower... who posts that without, like, at least quotations? If this message was from last week, why would you just post it now? In response to a very specific reply to a tweet from two days ago? “Sorry if context was not clear”? Do you mean, “sorry if context was not clear based on the fact I gave no fucking context because there is none to give”? And, okay, if you can figure out how to copy+paste someone’s message into a tweet then you definitely know how to not hover the cursor over the “tweet” button and click it before you’re ready to. Twitter doesn’t post tweets if you just hit Enter. The next response from Dean Browning took a whole hour, and that was when he quote-tweeted the video from William Holte posing as “Dan Purdy.”

So, why did it take twenty minutes to realize that the tweet was posted from the wrong account? And what’s with the delay between Dean’s tweet addressing this and William Holte’s video?

Because Dean was the one who fucked up.

Dean was tweeting from his own account and looking through the comments of his most recent tweet, and he replied as Dan Purdy before switching to that account. He doesn’t get social media and he didn’t think to look at which account he posted from once he hit Enter; it took him twenty minutes to realize the mistake because he only became aware once it had been pointed out by others and become viral. And once that happened, his panic response was to address it and deny it vaguely and shift the focus away. It took over an hour for the 55-second video from “Dan Purdy” (William Holte) because Dean had to get in contact with William, the one who usually ran the fake account(s), fill him in on what happened, figure out what to do from there together, write a script for the video, and probably record a few takes.

But, like I said, this is just a theory. And whether it turns out to be true or false we’ll probably never know, and, honestly, it doesn’t matter.

What matters is Dean Browning, a Republican Congressional candidate in the 2020 race, who is still verified on Twitter, and William Holte, a Republican donor, are pretending to be fictitious Black LGBTQ+ people in order to push a right wing agenda and further Dean Browning’s political ambitions.

In other words, what really matters here is

Fuck the both of them.

And also Patti LaBelle is an angel and does not deserve to be dragged into this mess.

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