Angelica Ross says she is taking a break from social media after a flurry of online harassment from trolls and outrage stemming from comments she made about Bernie Sanders and trans women following the LGBTQ Forum, in which Ross was a host.
Ahead of the debates the Pose and American Horror Story star questioned Bernie Sanders’ absence. Sanders, who is the only major candidate to sit out an LGBTQ+ event, cited "scheduling conflicts” via a spokesperson as the reason for his absence. The candidate had prior commitments at historically black colleges and universities in North Carolina as well as a tour of the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro.
In an interview with the Guardian, Ross called Sanders’ absence from the forum a “huge misstep.”
“I was disappointed to not see all of the candidates here,” she said. “I was further disappointed to hear this was not the only LGBTQ event Bernie was making other commitments for. You don’t show up for both of our LGBTQ events? That’s obviously telling us all we need to know.” The comments brought some backlash from Sanders supporters.
“To question Bernie Sanders stance on lgbtq rights is the most ridiculous thing ever and shows your bias against him,” one fan tweeted. “He's been an ally before it was cool and socially acceptable, while every other candidate just hopped on the equality train.” Another user tweeted that Ross was “spreading misinformation” about the candidate.
Sanders does have a long record as an ally. He was marching in Pride parades 36 years ago and became Burlington, Vermont’s first chief executive to participate in an LGBTQ+ event when he was mayor. He also voted against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. Ross did not deny any of that history in her interview. But of the two LGBTQ+ focused events for Democratic candidates during this Presidential election, Sanders was not at the forum and has not RSVP’d for a GLAAD event.
But a majority of the backlash against Ross came from pro-Trump MAGA trolls, who flooded the actress’s mentions to misgender her and call transgender people mentally ill. These attacks came as a response to Ross’s opening statements at the forum.
“One of the reasons I’m here tonight, is because the Trump administration is harming transgender Americans,” she said. “So let’s just review, why don’t we, just a handful of those moves. The administration moved to revoke trans healthcare and descrimination protections. They made it more difficult for homeless trans people to access shelters, and every Education Secretary Betsy Devos, however you say her name, her decision to stop investigating the complaints of trans students, hurts trans students across the country, when Secretary Devos should be helping to make sure every student can learn.” The majority of the over 150 responses to The Advocate’s tweet of that moment, came from Trump supporters and religious zealots.
“Ahhhh are you a man or a women guess your [sic] just nuts,” one user wrote. Others said the idea that Trump is harming transgender Americans is “not correct,” and some called gender dysphoria a mental illness.
After hours of this abuse, which she did not respond to, Ross tweeted that she would be allowing her team to handle her social media.
“Going to take a break from social media for a while and let me [sic] team run my accounts,” she wrote early Sunday morning.