As the opening song of a certain iconic Broadway musical once proclaimed, “No one mourns the wicked.” After decades of using his platform as a radio host and conservative commentator to mock HIV as “the Rock Hudson disease,” liken same-sex marriage to pedophilia, and advise bigots to “blame Islam” for anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination, Rush Limbaugh has died at the age of 70.

Limbaugh, the recent recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom under Donald Trump, passed away one year after announcing he was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. Last October, he shared with listeners that the cancer had become terminal.

Limbaugh got his start in radio nearly 40 years ago and bounced around from station to station because the heads of local networks objected to his shock jock approach to politics. But in the early 1990s, he found a new platform and gained syndication deals that took his show to a national audience that feasted upon his bigoted remarks.

Up until the end, Limbaugh fanned the flames ignited by Trumpism, a phenomenon that can be directly attributed to the radio host’s brand of politics, including his role in spreading the racist “birtherism” theory that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States. In recent months, Limbaugh also embraced Trump’s widely debunked claims of a “stolen election,” which he tirelessly promoted even as it culminated in the January 6 coup attempt at the U.S. Capitol. He refused to apologize in the wake of the violence, comparing insurrectionists to the nation’s founding fathers.

Several pro-LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations, media watchdogs, activists, and writers have weighed in on the death of the conservative cultural firebrand following news of his passing. Critics called out his track record of instigating the culture wars that became synonymous with conservative, Republican electoral politics, particularly in the wake of his show’s deplorable popularity.

GLAAD, for instance, advised news organizations to include Limbaugh’s “hateful history” of anti-LGBTQ+ bigotry when reporting on his death. “Rush Limbaugh spent much of his career maliciously attacking LGBTQ people,” the organization said.

Among these attacks, Limbaugh rampantly used anti-trans slurs during his broadcasts and accused transgender youth of participating in a “fad” to “tick off their parents.” During Pete Buttigieg’s 2020 presidential run, Limbaugh denounced the candidate for publicly kissing his husband, Chasten. He routinely argued that LGBTQ+ rights are anti-American, saying it’s against the country’s traditional values and that LGBTQ+ just want to obliterate them.



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