Dear Christians, Milo hates you
He's not even pretending any more
Early last year, Milo Yionnopoulos announced that he had given up the homosexual lifestyle, returned to the Catholic faith, and had consecrated his life to St. Joseph. In a number of interviews with conservative Christian media outlets and podcasters, he even promised that he would even open an ex-gay treatment center in Florida, to help others like him.
At the time, I was…how shall I put it…skeptical. It seemed obvious that Milo was peppering those interviews with more-or-less comically overt breadcrumbs suggesting that, having been unceremoniously cast into exile at the height of his fame after a number of reprehensible remarks excusing child rape came to light, our court-jester-elect was now trialling a new persona with which he hoped to re-launch his public brand.
However, besides the financial and publicity motives behind the ex-gay gambit, it also seemed to me that there was a more sinister artistic purpose behind it all, i.e. Milo was using this new persona to systematically test the limits of the gullibility of the social conservatives who had made him rich. How much, in other words, could he get away with? Just how preposterous could he make his persona, and still be feted as Christianity’s shiniest new convert?
At the time, like Michael Warren Davis, I gave serious thought to working up an exposé of what seemed to be the flagrant fraud. But I just couldn’t justify the investment of time. Nor could I bring myself to descend into the swamp that is Milo’s life and psyche to dig up the concrete evidence needed.
Now, however, no such digging is necessary.
Nevermind the incontrovertible moral grotesquery of Milo’s recent incarnation as enabler and beneficiary of Kanye West’s meltdown. To watch Milo fawning over and goading West (Ye) as the latter self-immolates is to watch a blood-sucking leech coolly going about its work. I don’t know how else to put it.
But, the thing is that Milo is scarcely even trying any more. Sure he still posts the occasional image of himself piously reading the breviary and suchlike on Telegram, for form’s sake. But, with the recent launch of the website for that promised treatment center of his, he’s practically begging us to call his bluff, to assure him that there really is - surely, there must be! - some limit: that there will come a moment when those blithely following him down the rabbit hole into his perverse personal Wonderland will stop and say, “Here, and no further.”
Red flags everywhere
First, however, a quick trip down memory lane.
Back in May 2021, Milo released a very strange video. In the video he is seen riding a chartered boat off the coast of Hawaii whilst forlornly smoking and chugging a bottle of vodka. The purpose of the trip, he solemnly tells the camera, is to throw a 4 carat diamond engagement ring (that he…bought for himself?) that he has dubbed the "Sodomy Stone" overboard, as a symbol of his abandonment of his former lifestyle of homosexual sin. (Note that Milo was - and so far as anybody knows, still is - legally married to a man.)
Ludicrously, he claims that he originally intended, inspired by JRR Tolkien, to charter a helicopter to throw the ring into a live volcano, but changed course after encountering a sign in the form of a statue of the Catholic saint Mother Marianne Cope at a marina, which somehow suggested to him the (conveniently cheaper) alternative of the boat.
At one point, after informing us that he has only $800 left in his checking account and that he has “exhausted” his savings, he punches the supposed weight and quality (“flawless”, naturally) of the diamond into an app, which gives the estimated value of the ring at about $150,000. In the denouement he looks tearfully into the camera, and pitches the ring overboard, before (if I recall correctly…the full original is now deleted) the video ends with the music from Titanic.
Now, nothing about the video made the slightest sense. If he was so flat broke, why Hawaii? Why not Florida, where he was living at the time? And who was behind the camera? And if he bought the ring for himself, as he claims, why not just show the receipt, rather than a value-estimate from an app? For that matter, why not return the ring, as he says he did with his less-expensive wedding ring? And then there’s the inconvenient fact that there seems to have been no diamond (real, or otherwise) on the ring he tossed overboard.
In the weeks before dropping this video, Milo had been doing the rounds of various Catholic and Christian podcasts and websites, claiming that he had successfully given up gay sex (for 250 days…albeit with one “slip-up”) and turned his life over to Christ. From his new vantage of model Catholic, he even doled out advice on how the Pope should be removed for covering up for the same sorts of child sex predators Milo had himself so recently excused.
There were, however, some red flags. Big ones. With flashing lights. And alarm bells. Loud ones.
To take but one example: in the ring video he claimed to be financially destitute. But a few weeks earlier, in the interview in which he announced his comeback role as repentant sinner, he had boasted about being able to afford to keep his “husband” (whom he claimed had been downgraded to mere roommate) clad in Gevenchy (an expensive designer brand) and "a new Porsche every year."
In fact, I can’t help but feel a touch silly doing this kind of exegesis. The whole interview was ridiculous. If you actually read it, it’s impossible to avoid the conclusion that what you’re reading is in the same genre as Spinal Tap, i.e. mockumentary. E.g.:
Even more overt, perhaps, is the moment he describes the members of the CHANGED ex-gay movement as “dirty non-doms who think God loves you more the gayer you act,” suggests that someone “really ought to tell them to use more heterosexual-looking photos on their website,” and says his own efforts to look less homosexual involve growing a mullet and “learning to drive stick.”
It makes you wonder if Milo ever really expected any of it to be taken seriously.
Meanwhile, mere days before announcing his change of heart, he was on Parler calling for homosexuals to be hung and for illegal immigrants to be shot with an AK47 (and for the shooter to be rewarded $500 for each kill), threatening to publicly post the phone numbers of Ben Shapiro and other "traitors", and using language so obscene that I can't replicate it here, even in censored form.
Watching this unfold early in 2021 made me both sad, and angry.
Sad for the ordinary Christians who were understandably falling for Milo’s grift. Everybody wants a feel-good story. And Milo’s was designed to push all the right buttons: a famous, famously reprobate, and brilliant cultural commentator who had “seen the light” and found peace and joy in a life with Christ, and who was now fully on our side.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, many took this story at face value, expressing joy at Milo’s spiritual homecoming and offering him heartfelt spiritual advice. God bless them.
Angry, however, that various public figures who absolutely should have known better were giving Milo, an inveterate attention-hound and arguably a sociopath, the platform he needed to broadcast his self-serving deception to tens millions of people. Instead of asking the hard questions that prudence demanded be asked of such a man with such a history, they fawned over him, praising him as our new St. Augustine, the one found sinner over whom heaven rejoices more than over the 99 righteous, heedless of the public scandal they were perpetrating by propping up Milo’s grift.
Church Militant, embarrassingly, even offered Milo a regular platform to publish absurd articles lauding the benefits of a life of chastity (dogs, it turns out, no longer feared him, because they “have a nose for demons”), and posted hard-to-believe-its-real videos of Milo hawking statues of the Virgin Mary and reading the psalms.
Now, however, as I mentioned at the beginning, Milo is playing his hand. Here’s the new website for The Milo Center, his alleged ex-gay treatment facility.
When I first encountered the site, I confess I thought it must be fake, created by someone other than Milo. The site is satirical. That much is obvious. However, what gave me pause is that the satire is so on-the-nose that it doesn’t quite fit with Milo’s usual practice of pushing the boundaries of absurdity to the breaking point, but leaving just enough room for plausible deniability to allow those who want to believe in him to say, “Well, that’s just Milo. He’s different.”
The prices for “treatments” are similarly absurd: $500/hour for therapy, or $80,000 for the “Signature Pence Pathway,” a 12-week treatment course involving electroshock therapy.
The whole thing is grotesque and clearly designed to mock the worst possible stereotypes of “anti-gay” Christians, the whole Christian ex-gay movement, and the most abominable stereotypes about “conversion therapy”. Whoever created it hates Christians and their beliefs, and is simply having fun at their expense.
That person is Milo.
Why am I confident of that? Well, because he told us. Here’s a post from his official Telegram channel a few weeks ago. Look familiar?
Meanwhile, the website for the treatment center includes a long, satirical biography of Milo. Well, here he is, a few weeks ago, right after the website launched, posting that same biography on his official Telegram channel. The day before that, he posted a video showing the website for the “clinic” open on his laptop, while playing the purported answering machine message callers will get when they call…ahem…(844)PRAY-AWAY.
The site is his.
Gullibility is not a virtue
None of this should come as a surprise.
Milo has never been anything but a swamp creature. Even at the height of his conservative fame, his schtick was morally repugnant.
However, what Milo learned early, and learned well, and what I believe he is deliberately lampooning with his ex-gay persona, is that so long as he told his conservative fans what they wanted to hear, he could get away with murder (and get paid handsomely to do it!). The sorts of Christians who form coalitions to protest obscenity in movies and on TV, would flock to his shows, to hear him describe his sex life or to call women horrible names, because in the midst of doing so he would also denounce abortion and mock feminists.
Sure, he might be obscene. But at least he was our obscene. Which, come to think of it, might well be the official motto for conservative politics these past few years. So many recent conservative heroes (and no, I’m not just referring solely, or even primarily to the orange fellow) have been some combination of intellectually vacuous, morally reprehensible, and certifiably insane. But what they all have in common is that they say the right things about the right hot-button topics, sprinkle their remarks liberally with disarming references to "the Lord”, and assuage their follower’s egos with the assurance that they are the good guys in this cosmic fight against the forces of evil.
In one sense, it makes sense. Of course we Christians want to feel like we’re on the winning side, even if all signs point to our cultural star waning. But ultimately, it’s been profoundly destructive. Christ urged Christians to be “wise as serpents”. Falling over and over again for the lies of sociopaths or nutcases because we can’t see past the barely-there fig-leaf of their posturing as moral crusaders, isn’t wisdom. Nor, for that matter, is it being “innocent as doves”. After all, is it really “innocence” to crave social and political power so much that we will throw prudence to the wind and downgrade fundamental moral principle in exchange for power and prestige?
After all, the Christian God is a God who died a brutal death on a cross, scorned by his enemies, abandoned by his friends. And who, in his dying breath, begged his Father to forgive the very people who had caused him such unspeakable suffering. In the face of the jeering Pharisees, he did not rise up to “own” anyone, nor did he “fight” so as to claim the cultural and political power that Satan had offered him, and which his closest followers had not-so-secretly hoped he would seize.
In conclusion, let me be clear. It is eminently Christ-like to pray for Milo. And if he should, at some point, authentically turn his life around, then it is eminently Christ-like to forgive him. But if Christians are to be wise as serpents, at that point we will politely decline his inevitable offers to become our silver-tongued public advocate, and tell him to go and quietly work out his salvation with fear and trembling, like the rest of us.
John - Have you read Jesus and John Wayne by Kristin Kobes Du Mez? I don't love the tone, but the historical treatment of conservatives selling out throughout the 20th century in the manner you describe is right along the same lines.
Good article, John