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Stephen Colbert has a long history of making jokes that cross lines and push boundaries, especially when it comes to his opponents. But now, some LGBTQ advocates are upset with a joke aimed at President Donald Trump that inadvertently attacked gay sexuality. And Trump fans are, too.
During his opening monologue for the Late Show With Stephen Colbert, Colbert referenced an excerpt from CBS’s Face the Nation, in which President Trump told host John Dickerson that he calls the show “Deface the Nation.” In response, Colbert made a joke implying Trump performs oral sex on Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“In fact, the only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s cock holster,” Colbert exclaimed during his opening monologue.
The joke allegedly suggests Trump giving oral sex to Putin is demeaning or subservient in nature, because the punchline involves gay sex between two men. For Trump fans, Colbert’s joke is immediately controversial—it’s a sex joke about the president. But for LGBTQ advocates, the joke was immediately read as homophobic for inadvertently attacking a common gay sex practice as subservient, demeaning, or morally corrupt. Twitter users, both pro- and anti-Trump, turned to the Internet to complain about Colbert under the #FireColbert hashtag.
Stephen Colbert: *makes homophobic joke*— LOGⒶN SLIMCOCK (@_callummtaylor) May 3, 2017
LGBT+ people: Can you not?
Liberals: All he did was imply gay sex acts are shameful. Get over it.
Colbert's homophobic rant was disgusting and we won't tolerate this anti-LGBTQ behavior.#FireColbert— Scott Presler (@ScottPresler) May 3, 2017
can we please stop with the Putin Trump being gay thing, if that's your go to worst thing you can say about them then you've no imagination— matthew mulligan (@_mattuna) May 2, 2017
Over time, however, the #FireColbert hashtag gradually filled with more conservative and pro-Trump voices, outnumbering any LGBTQ criticism over the comment.
#firecolbert— Glenda Askins (@GlendaAskins) May 3, 2017
He is so disrespectful to the POTUS. What's this type of monologue going to do to our country by next year. Fire him!!!
Some LGBTQ activists have called this hypocritical, noting that conservatives have largely turned a blind eye to homophobic and transphobic moves by the administration over the past 100 days.
GOP pretends to be offended by gay joke when they voted for a VP who wants to electrocute gays until they say they're straight #FireColbert— Kaivan Shroff (@KaivanShroff) May 3, 2017
Hope everyone stands behind the LGBTQ community on Thursday when Trump makes it legal to discriminate them with the same fervor #FireColbert— Amanda Hines (@Spicydippindots) May 2, 2017
All these leftist that hate Trump bc he said"u can grab them by the p", is now defending #FireColbert !! Unbelievable!!— GratefulNotHateful (@terrimore1) May 3, 2017
Still, many LGBTQ activists are still upset about the joke, claiming it’s anti-queer in nature for criticizing Putin and Trump by calling them gay
@disco_socialist Agh. People are fucked up. I respect the attempt at a joke (Colbert) but it's wild how people can't see their own homophobia— Rutherford Doeman (@RutherfordDman) May 3, 2017
This isn’t the first time Colbert has gained controversy for his sense of humor, either. In 2014, activist Suey Park started the #CancelColbert hashtag, after Colbert made a joke on Comedy Central that was criticized for disparaging Asian-Americans. LGBTQ activists have also complained about Colbert’s transphobic jokes in the past, which often used the terms “shemale” and “tranny,” and made fun of politicians at trans women’s expense.
“For instance, how many times have I accidentally picked up a tranny hooker at a truck-stop? I wanna say it’s in the 50s, but it could be higher. I guess what I’m saying is I’m nearsighted,” Colbert once said on the Colbert Report.
Ana Valens is a reporter specializing in online queer communities, marginalized identities, and adult content creation. She is Daily Dot's Trans/Sex columnist. Her work has appeared at Vice, Vox, Truthout, Bitch Media, Kill Screen, Rolling Stone, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and spends her free time developing queer adult games.