“Hannity is a buffoon,” Ben Holden said, perhaps a bit too loudly. Holden was drinking disappointing sangria with a friend at the bar of the Trump International Hotel in Washington, where he had come last February more out of curiosity than reverence for the president. He was in town for his first Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), an event that he took seriously enough to dress up for (dark suit, American-flag tie) but that he was also interested in for its anthropological weirdness. A 23-year-old student at Suffolk University in Boston who is gay and “leans conservative,” Holden planned to take copious notes and write a gonzo-style journalistic piece about a political gathering known as much for its raucous parties as its provocative speakers.
Holden wasn’t the only young L.G.B.T. person in the Trump lobby that night. A few feet away, several conservative gay and bisexual journalists and activists reclined on couches. Among them was Charlie Nash, a tweed-wearing 21-year-old British reporter for Breitbart who described himself to me as a pagan, an absurdist and a right-wing environmentalist. Next to Nash was Lucian Wintrich, the 30-year-old former White House correspondent for The Gateway Pundit, a conspiracy-peddling far-right website founded by another gay man, Jim Hoft, to “expose the wickedness of the left.” Wintrich is perhaps best known for his Twinks4Trump photo series, in which he photographed lithe young men wearing Make America Great Again baseball caps.
At the bar, Holden and a fellow Suffolk student were joined by a heavyset man in a colorful checkered shirt. Before telling them his name (and asking that I not use it), the man introduced himself by way of a toast: “We’re going to build that wall! We’re going to make America great again!”
Holden’s friend challenged the man to an arm-wrestling contest before having second thoughts. “Actually, my masculinity is not worth sweating over in a zero-sum situation,” he said.
“That’s nonsense!” the man told him. “There’s an economic benefit to masculinity.”
This led to some back-and-forth about economics and gender theory before Holden’s friend relented and assumed an arm-wrestling position at the bar. The showdown didn’t go his way. “I think you got help from the Russians,” he said.
“Collusion!” the man shouted with delight.
Before long, it became clear why he had joined the students in conversation: to hit on Holden, who is tall and broad-shouldered and has big, protruding ears that add to an aura of youthful affability. But even as the man flirted he confided that he was deeply closeted and, in fact, saw his same-sex attractions as a kind of affliction. Still, he wanted Holden’s phone number. Read more via New York Times