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By Avi Selk | Washington Post
Trump.dating is an odd site, and not just because it featured a convicted sex offender’s smiling face on its homepage. More on that shortly.
It’s strange in nearly every way a dating site could be strange. Its all-caps slogan – “MAKE DATING GREAT AGAIN! FIND YOUR PRO-TRUMP MATCH TODAY” – may actually be the least weird thing about it.
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The site’s premise, at least, makes some sense: “Like-minded people have a far better chance at success in a relationship,” as a news release announcing the site’s launch put it this month. “Users can rest assured every person they are talking to is behind the president, with red, white, and blue blood that flows for America each and every day.”
Nothing wrong with that. Who wants to have a border wall argument over wine? But Trump.dating’s peculiarities begin to surface with the first mouse click, and never quite stop.
There apparently are no pro-Trump gay people
The common denominator among the site’s users is supposed to be that they, unlike most opinion poll respondents, support President Donald Trump. But try to register and the first thing you’re asked is whether you’re a “Straight Man” or “Straight Woman.” Gay people (let alone bisexual, transgender or queer) simply don’t exist in the menus.
While Trump is certainly loathed by many gay rights supporters, mainly for policies rolling back freedoms and protections of transgender people, he definitely has gay fans. He’s even embraced them on occasion – giving a shout out to the “LGBTQ community” in his Republican National Convention speech, for example.
But being gay is simply not an option on Trump.dating, which is not the only conservative matchmaking site to exclude non-straights. You’re either a man seeking women, or a woman seeking men.
You can, however, specify a romantic interest in “military men/women” regardless of your gender. So Trump.dating appears to tolerate a very specific form of bi-curiosity.
Okay, let’s talk about the child sex conviction
As of Monday, Trump.dating’s poster photo showed an authentic pro-Trump couple from North Carolina: Jodi Riddleberger in a pink MAGA hat, and her husband, Barrett – whom the News & Observer subsequently reported has a 1995 conviction for “indecent liberties with a child.”
Barrett Riddleberger didn’t respond to requests for comment, but his conviction was common knowledge in Guilford County, North Carolina, where he and his wife are active in local Republican politics.
He was accused of videotaping himself having sex with a 15-year-old when he was 25, according to the Greensboro News & Record. When details of the crime went public during a race in 2011, Jodi Riddleberger wrote on Facebook that her husband had since undergone “Redemption.”
As of Tuesday, the Riddleberger’s photo had undergone a retraction from Trump.dating’s homepage. Instead, visitors are greeted by a stock photo of a middle-aged couple who can also be found advertising gum recession treatments.
“The couple’s history was not revealed to us in anyway beforehand or while the photo was live on the site,” Trump.dating spokesman Sean McGrossler wrote in a statement. “They are not spokesmodels. They are not spokespersons. They no longer represent the Trump.Dating image.”
The statement also mentioned that a previous version of the site incorrectly allowed married Trump supporters to look for dates.
Who’s behind the site, anyway?
Trump.dating’s spokesman, as mentioned above, gave his name as Sean McGrossler. The site’s founder and owner, as declared in its Feb. 5 launch announcement on the Daily Caller, is Sean McGrossier, with an i, though it is sometimes spelled as McGrossler in the same advertisement.
McGrossler (the site’s spokesman) did not immediately respond to questions from The Washington Post about whether he is also McGrossier/McGrossler (the site’s owner), and, if so, which spelling of his name is correct.
For some reason, Sean McGrossler’s byline on the Daily Caller is tagged as “ariddleberger” – the last name of the former model convicted of a sex crime, whom Sean McGrossier (the spokesman – and possibly also the owner) said no longer represented Trump.dating.
McGrossler/McGrossier did not respond to questions about whether Riddleberger is involved in running the site. Riddleberger couldn’t be reached either, for what it’s worth.
The people on it
We just wrote 700 words about the curiosities of Trump.dating without discussing the actual dating experience, which is frankly a little weird too.
Like, what are we to make of kyschyanne, a 21-year-old user from Garland, Texas, who’s bio line is “white power?”
To be fair, the site’s user base may be distorted by all the attention it’s received as a result of Riddleberger’s criminal history. The Washington Post, among others, had to make a fake user profile to find kyschyanne. Who’s to say kyschyanne isn’t fake, too? Or hailxxxy – “I love trump with a dying passion.”
Pink News, an LGBT site annoyed by the site’s exclusion of LGBT people, went exploring with its own fake account and found a match named “Gayintruder555,” which it figured was a troll.
While it’s unclear how many real people actually use the site, Trump.dating now describes itself as “mega-viral,” and at least some of the profiles look authentic.
Like Footlettuce, 23, from Tuskegee. “Love of god Great at basketball.” Sounds nice.
Whether the matches Trump.dating makes are any good is another question. The Post had some trouble getting the site’s preferences to work correctly. It kept offering us page after page of white people, even after we’d asked to only match with “Thai women,” which for some reason is its own special category in the ethnicity menu.
We have no plans to actually go on a date, regardless. If you do, let us know how great it is.