Right-Wing Media and Anti-Trans Groups Welcome Kiss’ Paul Stanley to the Cause
Once upon a time, concerned parents warned each other about their children falling under the possibly demonic influence of the metal band Kiss — whose name was falsely alleged to stand for “Knights in Satan’s Service.” But this week, conservatives are standing in solidarity with one of the group’s founding guitarists, Paul Stanley, 71, who issued an unprompted statement calling expression of gender identity among children “a sad and dangerous fad.”
Stanley — a.k.a. Starchild, who along with the rest of Kiss is known for wearing platform heels, full makeup and big, teased-up hair on stage — seemed to suggest that adults are “encouraging” kids to take their experimentation with individual presentation beyond “the innocence of what they are doing.” He also appeared to erroneously conflate gender with sexual orientation, which develop separately, according to medical researchers.
But the statement was applauded, amplified, and exaggerated across right-wing media. Fake news site the Gateway Pundit summarized Stanley’s innuendo in more extreme terms, inaccurately reporting that Stanley had said that “parents are normalizing the mutilation of innocent children.” The Post Millennial‘s article referred to Stanley as a “legend” and indulged in anecdotal fear-mongering about the dangers of gender transition. (The site’s senior editor, Andy Ngo, also tweeted that Stanley’s commentary was “brave.”) The rock star’s remarks were also covered approvingly by the Daily Wire, the Blaze, and Newsmax, while Breitbart compared them to his previous denunciation of Kanye West‘s antisemitic hate speech.
Other praise came from Gays Against Groomers, an astroturfed-front group fomenting anti-LQBTQ sentiment and chaired by right-wing operatives with connections to the MAGA and QAnon movements. “We need more and more people to come forward and denounce this evil,” the organization tweeted. The “gender critical” group Genspect, which broadly opposes gender-affirming care and works alongside anti-LGBTQ activists, also shared Stanley’s post.
Michael Young, a visiting fellow at conservative think tank Center for Renewing America who has amassed a large Twitter following with “anti-woke” rhetoric, declared: “This means we are at the very beginning of it now being socially acceptable for artists, culture makers, and celebrities being allowed to push back on gender nonsense.”
Meanwhile, Marina Medvin, an attorney representing several defendants charged in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, noted that “Paul Stanley, a father of four, is joining the moms defending their children against the radical trans genital mutilation movement.” The post also made the rounds on the alt-tech platforms Gab and Truth Social. A QAnon conspiracist account with nearly 60,000 followers on the latter site wrote: “boom […] well said.”
And Stanley found support among a handful of other entertainers as well, including Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider, also known for a flamboyant stage persona. “You know what? There was a time where I ‘felt pretty’ too,” he tweeted. “Glad my parents didn’t jump to any rash conclusions!” Phil Labonte, lead vocalist of the metal band All That Remains, tweeted, “Paul is right.” And pro wrestler Chris Jericho — despite a record of staunchly supporting trans athletes who have faced abuse and harassment in the sport — retweeted Stanley without additional comment, to 3.5 million followers.
Whatever Stanley thought he was saying, his vague allusions to unsubstantiated trends among youth clearly resonated with reactionaries stirring up outrage about gender identity and transition. It’s not the first time a founding Kiss member has flipped the script by endorsing the sort of moral panic that, in the past, would’ve targeted them: In 2021, guitarist Ace Frehley promoted the baseless conspiracy theory that the Astroworld Festival, at which a crowd surge killed 10 people, was a satanic ritual. Perhaps it’s just the way of the aging rock rebel: When you get old enough, you suddenly think it’s everyone else who’s going too far.