Creep of the Week: Gigi Gaskins

I remember it like it was yesterday: Trump supporters flying flags that said, “Fuck your feelings,” wearing “Suck it up, Buttercup” T-shirts and making fun of safe spaces.

Now, these same people are demanding that we stop teaching about racism in U.S. schools because it hurts their feelings and that transgender people not be allowed into public restrooms because it makes them uncomfortable. These are the same people who literally stormed the Capitol because their candidate lost the election. The biggest deadly temper tantrum in modern history.

THEIR president told them that COVID-19 would disappear like a miracle.

So the audacity of public health professionals saying, “Hey, lots of people are dying, so wear a mask” and government officials mandating masks in the middle of a pandemic was just too much. Once the vaccinations rolled in, people who didn’t want to get one for “reasons” lost their minds completely.

If you can’t spew virus particles in your local supermarket to your heart’s content, then is American even FREE anymore? NO! And now these patriots are screaming that America asking people to get vaccines is the same thing as Nazi Germany demanding that Jews wear yellow stars.

Wait, what? That can’t be right. Even the most brainwashed Q-Anon Trump cult member wouldn’t equate vaccines — something people are doing during a deadly pandemic so as to stop the spread of a virus — to wearing a yellow star in Nazi Germany — something that was forced on Jewish people who were taken from their homes, put into concentration camps and murdered by the millions.

And they certainly wouldn’t, like, make yellow stars that say “Not Vaccinated,” and offer them for sale in their hat store in Tennessee and post this publicly on Instagram.

Oh, wait, they would.

Gigi Gaskins, owner of hatWRKS in Nashville posted a photo of herself on Instagram with a yellow star that read: “patches are here!! they turned out great. $5ea. string adhesive back … we’ll be offering trucker caps soon.”

If you look through the hatWRKS Instagram you will see an explosion of right-wing fever dreaming and Trump-worshipping. It seems that the 2020 election is what really sent Gaskins over the edge (yes, she believes it was stolen). Prior to that, the posts were mostly, well, photos of hats and people wearing hats. You know, like what you might see on the Instagram account of a hat store.

Things really heated up with COVID-19. Gaskins has quite a few posts that compare public health guidelines to Nazism. So that idea has been in her head for a while. There are also a lot of racist posts about Black Lives Matter, an anti-trans post where she refers to Assistant Health Secretary Rachel Levine as “this dude,” and lots of warnings about how America is on the fast track to fascism now that Trump isn’t president. That is wild. We tilted so far toward fascism during Trump’s disaster of a presidency and still have the entire Republican party trying to throw Democracy in the trash. Democrats are, while not perfect, not what fascism looks like. And if they want to keep it that way, they need to ABOLISH THE FILIBUSTER. Now, damn it.

Gaskins got a lot of angry responses to her post, to which she responded:

“People are so outraged by my post? but are you outraged with the tyranny the world is experiencing? (sic) if you don’t understand what is happening, that is on you, not me. i pay much more respect to history by standing up with the fallen than offering silence and compliance. (that is the worse crime. it was then & is now. i will delete your disgust and hope you put it where it belongs.”

Not sure if by “the fallen” she means those murdered during the Holocaust or those who’ve died from COVID-19 or those who have had to wear masks. Probably the last one.

The “disgust” includes the Tennessee Holocaust Commission, which weighed in stating, “Using the yellow star or any Holocaust imagery or symbols for another purpose is beyond reprehensible and a disservice to the memory of the 6 million Jews who were systematically murdered in the Holocaust.”

And then companies like Stetson and Bailey Hats announced that they wouldn’t be doing business with hatWRKS anymore. And all of a sudden, she was sorry. Kind of.

“In no way did I intend to trivialize the Star of David or disrespect what happened to millions of people,” she wrote on Instagram. “I sincerely apologize for any insensitivity.”

That’s all it was. A little insensitivity. That said, she still thinks she’s in the right.

“I was willing to put my business on the line to stand up for the freedoms that we still have in our country. What I didn’t expect is being accused of the very things I was fighting against.”

That’s because she doesn’t know what the hell she’s talking about.

But this is the store that put up a billboard a while ago reading, “Cancel cancel culture before it cancels us all” and another reading, in part, “One thing for certain you will not cancel me!”

And it’s true. We didn’t cancel her. Congratulations, hatWRKS, you canceled yourself.

D'Anne Witkowski is a poet, writer and comedian living life with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBT politics for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter.