This afternoon, a supposed yearbook photo of a young Mitt Romney adopting a stereotypical, limp-wristed pose with the caption “Uproarious old Mitt does his best Liberace!” began circulating on social media sites, with varying commentary about Romney’s record on gay rights.
The supposed photo of a young Mitt Romney mocking gay people may have seemed believable to many due to a tale that circulated earlier in the campaign about a young Mitt Romney holding an allegedly gay student down and cutting his hair while at prep school.
The classmate of Mitt Romney’s has since died, but his family has expressed displeasure at the use of the anecdote in the news, and for his part, Romney apologized, saying:
“They talk about the fact that I played a lot of pranks in high school … And they describe some that you just say to yourself, back in high school I just did some dumb things and if anybody was hurt by that or offended by it, obviously I apologize.”
Romney says that at the time, he had no idea his classmate was gay, and going by the mores of the time, his assertion is believable. Further, homosexuality was a far different issue half a century ago, and the idea of tolerance was one that lived far in the future. Humor such as that displayed in the picture would have been (although offensive by 2012’s standards) not entirely out of place or considered discriminatory in the mid 60s, when Romney was at prep school.
Still, when the supposed image of Mitt Romney began to appear on Facebook and Twitter, many took it as real at first glance, perhaps owing to the older story. However, the pic is a fake.
Magazine Vanity Fair mocked up several “yearbook photos” of Mitt Romney engaged in various pranks, most echoing positions the GOP candidate espouses and the publication presumably disagrees. Mitt Romney did not in fact mock homosexuals, nor did he pose as Liberace for his yearbook candids.