A Dwight Howard scandal centered around his alleged involvement with a gay man and his unsubstantiated attendance at "transgender sex parties" lit up the Twitterverse over the weekend.
But whether or not an NBA player "like[s] to deal with trans and men" in the bedroom, why should we care?
The eight-time NBA All Star found himself a trending topic after a man named Masin Elijè took to Twitter to accuse the Washington Wizards center of harassment. In a long series of tweets, he claimed that they engaged in a covert affair that ended in deceit, cheating, and threats of physical violence. Elijè purports that his "life was threatened after [he] was sexually harassed, threatened and manipulated, by someone [he] respected, my ex boyfriend NBA player Dwight Howard...."
Obviously, harassment and threats of physical violence are serious subjects. Emphatic reactions on social media spanned from decrying Howard as yet another abuser to declaring his accuser's spurious—yet elaborate—story a grab for attention.
The accuser, notable for authoring a work of fiction titled Industry Hoe and for previous (discredited) claims of being involved with rapper Playboi Carti, weaves a tale in a lengthy thread of condemning tweets, screenshots, and audio clips presented as exchanges with the NBA player. Highlights include Elijè and Howard's first meeting at a taping of MTV's Wild'N Out, direct messages on Instagram, private phone calls, and developing a physical relationship. Elijè also ambiguously stated, "From my understanding we had an understanding."
Elijè's alleged harassment stems from refusal to sign a nondisclosure agreement after discovering his partner's infidelity with a "transgender prostitute." The accuser's claims became more salacious for his 36.7k Twitter followers (which have since grown to 39.8k) when he tweeted, "I thought my good sis was a prostitute but as my friend took a deeper look into her page, she actually host TRANSGENDER SEX PARTIES that Dwight Howard (allegedly) often attends, so YES, I lost every bit of my mind."
In an interview with Hill Reporter, Elijè laments:
"I have been harassed, sexually harassed, called a 'f****t in a wig', I have been told in the videos as you can see (below) 'you better move', 'you are a freak', 'bend over faggot and tell them that'. I have been threatened, my life has been threatened by Dwight Howard's PASTOR! I have had every gay slur said to me by Dwight Howard's PASTOR, Calvin Simmons because I did not want to sign a nondisclosure agreement regarding Dwight. I did not take 'hush money' because I was afraid they [would] try to say I extorted Dwight. I just wanted this situation to go away but the threats his team and pastor made frightened me to the point where I am still afraid. Dwight Howard has done nothing to tell his team and the people he works with to leave me alone. THAT IS MY STORY!"
Whether or not the story is an instance of slander or a #MeToo outing of a celebrated figure, the narrative of transphobia leading to death threats rings all too true.
Political comedian, W. Kamau Bell weighed in with hopes that people will channel their interest in celebrity gossip into the underlying social issues that gains a story traction, such as homo- and trans- phobia and social stigma that would prompt a public figure to threaten a queer-identifying person. "Transphobia is literally killing people. Especially trans people of color. Hopefully this Dwight Howard situation can open up that discussion on a bigger level. Hopefully the TMZ-ness of this situation will quickly pass & the national discussion of #translivesmatter will remain."
Dwight Howard has been inactive on Twitter since July and has not commented on the situation.
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