White GOP Congressional Candidate Tweets 'I'm A Black Gay Guy,' Then Says He Was 'Quoting a Message'

Dean Browning, a Republican politician and former congressional candidate, addressed an earlier tweet in which he identified himself as a Black gay man and Trump supporter on Tuesday.

Browning, who is white and married to a woman, said the message quoted one of his social media followers and apologized for failing to clarify sooner.

"Regarding the tweet that is going viral from my account - I was quoting a message that I received earlier this week from a follower. Sorry if the context was not clear," the Pennsylvania political figure wrote in his latest afternoon tweet. "Trump received record minority votes & record LGBTQ votes. Many people won't say it vocally, but do in private."

Regarding the tweet that is going viral from my account — I was quoting a message that I received earlier this week from a follower.

Sorry if context was not clear.

Trump received record minority votes & record LGBTQ votes.

Many people won’t say it vocally, but do in private.

— Dean Browning (@DeanBrowningPA) November 10, 2020

Previously Lehigh County's commissioner and, later, a Republican candidate for the U.S. House representing Pennsylvania's 7th congressional district, Browning describes himself as a "proud pro-life [and] proud pro-2A Christian conservative" on Twitter. The latter part of his description references support for the Second Amendment. Browning is also a vocal proponent of President Donald Trump and serves as chairman of a right-wing political action committee called Common Sense Solutions.

Browning's most recent tweet trailed his original social media post by roughly five hours. In that time, several Twitter users, including reporter Jacob Rubashkin, retweeted screenshots that prompted the post's viral circulation online.

"I'm a black gay guy and I can personally say that Obama did nothing for me, my life only changed a little bit and it was for the worse," Browning's original tweet read. "Everything is so much better under Trump though. I feel respected - which I never do when democrats are involved."

Dean Browning, former Lehigh County comissioner who seems to have forgotten to log into his burner account, was about 2,500 votes away from being the GOP's nominee in Pennsylvania's 7th Congressional district this year. pic.twitter.com/ftiY68wae6

— Jacob Rubashkin (@JacobRubashkin) November 10, 2020

By 4 p.m. ET, Browning appeared to have deleted the tweet. Many suggested the former congressional candidate fabricated the message entirely, and mistakenly posted it to his official Twitter account. Other reporters pinpointed what they believed to be the false account fairly quickly, noting that a profile belonging to someone named "Dan Purdy" replies to Browning's tweets fairly regularly.

The account was created in October, and its owner has shared more than 375 tweets since then, predominantly posting pro-Trump political views. Dan Purdy referred to himself as "a gay black guy" in a tweet replying to Browning on November 1, and reiterated both identities in additional tweets that went on to voice conservative political views.

The name "Dan Purdy," as well as the bitmoji image placed in the account's profile photo, was previously assigned to a different account that Twitter suspended for violating its conduct rules. The bitmoji image and name "Dan Purdy" still appeared alongside the suspended account's Twitter handle in a Google search on Tuesday afternoon.

Skepticism about the account belonging to "Dan Purdy," and its relationship to Browning, circulated rapidly on Twitter. About an hour after Browning shared his clarification tweet, the local politician's name was trending. He retweeted a video message originally posted to Purdy's Twitter account, amid the ongoing social media conversation.

Here is a message from Dan Purdy, who has decided to responded to the controversy.

I wish the media would pay attention to the voter irregularities in the state of Pennsylvania as much as they have this Twitter story. https://t.co/8UUpC0Y8UH

— Dean Browning (@DeanBrowningPA) November 10, 2020

"Hey guys, my name is Dan Purdy and I am indeed a gay, Black man," an individual said in the video. "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."

He went on to emphasize that he does not take issue with Trump, or his policies and public statements that civil rights and LGBTQ+ advocacy groups have spoken out against, noting the ways in which they harm communities.

"I don't have a problem with Donald Trump on those levels, and I don't understand why so many pretend to," he continued Tuesday. "Donald Trump has never done anything to hurt me, either as a gay man or as a Black man...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."

A Twitter spokesperson initially confirmed to Newsweek that Purdy's profile and activity did not violate the platform's rules of conduct, which prohibit users from operating false accounts, early Tuesday evening. However, the account was suspended before the end of the night. Newsweek reached out to Twitter for further clarification but has not received a response.

Twitter users questioned the true identity of "Dan Purdy" as soon as Browning shared the man's video message, with many suggesting the Pennsylvania politician had contracted an impersonator in hopes it would make the account seem legitimate.

As others pointed out an apparent resemblance between "Purdy" and William Holte, the nephew and adopted son of music icon Patti LaBelle. Holte's profile photo on Facebook is the same cartoon image that appeared on the Twitter profile for "Dan Purdy." Although hypotheses about the confusing connection between Browning, "Dan Purdy," and possibly Holte continued to circulate on social media into Wednesday, their true relationship, if any, remained largely unknown.

Newsweek reached out to Browning for additional comments but did not receive a reply in time for publication.

Update: (9:50 a.m., 11/11/2020): This story was updated to reflect Twitter's suspension of the account associated with "Dan Purdy," as well as additional details about the viral social media saga.

Update: (6:19 p.m., 11/10/2020): This story was updated to include information about Purdy's video as well as Twitter's comment.

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A vandalized sign promoting President Donald Trump's reelection campaign is pictured in Wilmington, Delaware, on October 16. Chip Somodevilla/Getty