After video of Burbank Mayor Konstantine Anthony being spanked during a drag queen event was shared by a social media page known for whipping up anti-LGBTQ furor online, he said the torrent of hate came strong and swift.
Anthony told The Times in an interview that, despite his decades-long career as a professional entertainer and comedian, people are only now taking issue with his “wild and crazy antics” because the LGBTQ community is involved.
“Suddenly now that I’m associating with queer folks, I am ‘unbecoming of a mayor,’” he said. “Nobody had any problem with me beforehand, and all of the shenanigans I participated in as a public official, because they found it hilarious and heartwarming and [saw me as] a man of the people who behaves outside the norm of our stuffy democracy.”
The video, which was filmed over the weekend and posted online by the Armenian American podcast WiseNuts, shows Anthony being spanked by a drag queen during a Drag Queen Bingo event. The podcast page, which has also shared content from the “Leave Our Kids Alone” movement that claims to oppose teaching students about gender and sexuality, added hashtags including “#embarrassing,” “#beaman” and “#clownshow.”
The video was also boosted by the Libs of TikTok page, whose posts have drawn threats of violence against their subjects, including threats and disruptions of drag queen story hours and bomb threats against an Oakland school hosting a playdate for students of color.
Since the video was posted, Anthony said, others on the City Council, city staffers and members of the community have been fielding hateful phone calls from people outside Burbank.
“We have seen a huge, huge swarm of hate speech,” he said.
The video sparked backlash from other political figures and members of the public.
“This is an excellent example of the humiliation a man will subject himself to in order to pander to the degenerate alphabet cult crowd,” James Clarke, a candidate for state Assembly, wrote in an Instagram comment, using a derogatory term for the LGBTQ community and its allies. “He debases the honor of elected office every time he appears in public.”
Burbank resident Joel Schlossman criticized Anthony’s behavior during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
“Something wrong when the mayor says if you have an opinion and you disagree, you’re a member of a hate group,” he said. “There are people in this city with morals who care. You cannot be a piece of s— when you go home and then come here and put on a suit and think that you’re high and mighty.”
The Santa Clarita Valley Democrats, which hosted the drag-themed fundraiser event, posted a statement condemning “the sensationalized and inaccurate use of our event for political click bait in order to promote an agenda of fear, homophobia, transphobia and bigotry.”
Libs of TikTok had posted that the spanking took place “in front of children at a Democrat campaign event.” The event was open to people 15 years and older, but no one under the age of 18 actually attended, according to the Santa Clarita Valley Democrats.
“To lie about children, the nature of the event, or who was in attendance for political clout is shameful and sick,” the organization said.
Anthony, who is running for a seat on the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, said he doesn’t think he’d be getting this level of criticism if he weren’t running for higher office.
“There is a huge anti-LGBTQ contingency moving its way through Southern California, and I am publicly fighting against that,” he said. “The movement to create a backlash against me is a distraction from all the good we’ve been doing here in Burbank. We’ve passed the first-ever gun control ordinance in Burbank, the first-ever tenant protection and rent regulation ordinance. We are making great strides, and it is the work that I’m doing that people are mad about.”