While he may have been overshadowed by Donald Trump, Milo Yiannopoulos had his own dizzying rise to the top in 2016. He experienced such a substantial uptick in public notoriety that even the same queer media that condemned him took note.
On Thursday, Milo completed that upward trajectory by winning the Person of the Year poll conducted by LGBTQ Nation; a queer news site followed by more than 1.2 million people on Facebook. Yiannopoulos came in with nearly 70 percent of the vote.
“Hate him or love him, one thing Milo truly excels at is getting attention for himself and his causes. If he decides to highlight an issue, his fans will follow his every word on the subject and more often than not, it’ll get moved to a mainstream audience as the story picks up steam from online chatter. For a gay guy from Britain, he has truly made his mark on conservative American politics and entertainment. Yiannopoulos has been able to brand himself the ultimate gay provocateur in a year of provocateurs.”
It’s worth noting, however, that the publication doesn’t attribute Milo’s win to its own voter base, but rather to the hoards of Yiannopoulos fans that flooded the page in order to push their favorite to victory. That theory is backed up by the poll’s runner-up; incoming vice-president Mike Pence, who has faced a massive backlash from the LGBTQ community for his history of non-progressive policies.
Milo’s victory faced an extremely poor reception from the site’s fan base, with nearly every article on its social media, Yiannopoulos-related or not, flooded with comments threatening to unfollow the page.
— Dula Love (@DulaLove1) January 5, 2017
@lgbtqnation How does a person who has admitted that if “praying the gay away” worked he would, become LGBTQ person of the year?
— Chillin’ Vervloet (@PeterVervloet) January 6, 2017
— The Cavalry’s Queer (@trashboyman) January 6, 2017
That’s not to say that Milo doesn’t enjoy any support from the LGBTQ community. Several comments appeared in favor of Yiannopoulos’ victory, including one from a gay man named J.P. Vandiver who argued that Trump had won the support of some members of the LGBTQ community by publicly condemning anti-gay Sharia law.
“Love Milo. He can make liberals cry just by smiling. Their racist causes where whites are demonized and blamed for everything bad that’s happened while painting terrorists as good people drove people to Yiannopoulos. He was willing to tell the truth and not apologize for it… Anyone with a brain knows Sharia law is bad. Gays are slaughtered, women oppressed, Africans enslaved and children forced into marriage.”
Perhaps most stunning was the fact that Milo managed to snatch up the title in the face of the the group that came in third; the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida. With 49 dead and 53 wounded, the attack was the largest on U.S. soil since 9/11. Following the incident, Yiannopoulos made an appearance outside the club to encourage gays to use their First and Second Amendment rights to fight back against Islamic extremism.
“My hope after today, after the ugly and disgusting thing that happened here is that gay people say too, like the Jews did after the second world war, never again and gay people too, let Islamic fundamentalist preachers and Muslims everywhere who are tempted into thinking they can treat gay people like this, they can treat women like this, they can treat Latinos like this, they can treat black people like this, they can treat anyone like this, that we will shoot back.”
Milo Yiannopoulos will have a busy 2017 as well, with a book set to be released that has already stirred up controversy. In protest, Chicago Review of Books has already declined to review anything else his publisher Simon & Schuster releases this year.
[Featured Image by Drew Angerer/Getty Images]