Here’s Why Everyone Is Suddenly Tweeting About Ms. Patti LaBelle

Dean Browning is a white former Republican congressional candidate for the dynamic commonwealth of Pennsylvania. His pinned tweet suggests that “What Trump built in 4 years, Biden will destroy in 4 months.”

Earlier today, he issued a tweet that confused most people who saw it. It began with “I’m a Black gay guy” and went on to praise President Donald J. Trump and disparage his predecessor, Barack Obama.

Dean Browning, former Lehigh County comissioner who seems to have forgotten to log into his burner account, was about 2,500 votes away from being the GOP's nominee in Pennsylvania's 7th Congressional district this year.

As people took notice of the tweet, Mr. Browning apologized and said he was quoting a message he received “from a follower.”

A frequent replier to Mr. Browning is a Twitter user with the handle DanPurdy322, who frequently refers to himself as Black and gay in tweets.

As speculation that DanPurdy322 was a “sock puppet” account for Mr. Browning erupted on Twitter, DanPurdy322 posted a video explaining that the account was, in fact, run by a Black gay conservative. (A sock puppet is a fictional identity used to deceive people online and often to stoke argument.)

The account has since been suspended.

In that video, a person speaking directly to the camera says: “Hey guys, my name is Dan Purdy, and I am indeed a gay Black man.” He then proceeds to affirm that he sent the original message to Mr. Browning “because I had a problem with how people of my race and sexual persuasion are treating Donald Trump” (though he portrays himself as mystified about how exactly Mr. Browning came to tweet it without explanation or attribution).

The speaker strongly resembles someone named Byl Holte. Mr. Holte’s social media accounts use the same pictures and avatars as DanPurdy322.

As well, a framed piece of art that appears in DanPurdy322’s video also appears in a photograph on Mr. Holte’s Facebook page.

William “Byl” Holte’s Facebook page “likes” the page “Candace Owens for President 2024” and also contains some photos and videos of a woman who appears to be Patti LaBelle.

Ms. LaBelle adopted the two children of her sister, Jackie Holte, after her death in 1989. They are named Stayce and William. An Instagram account with the handle “byl322” recently posted a picture captioned “Me and Aunt Patti.”

A separate Twitter account purporting to be Byl Holte — named, incredibly, “IncrediByl” — was also suspended by Twitter today.

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the suspensions.

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