A screenshot of a supposed Washington Post article headlined, “This dog is the new face of online homophobia,” with a photograph of a dog, went viral in the spring of 2022. But the article is not real.
Carrying the byline of Washington Post technology journalist Taylor Lorenz, the fake story was shared in mid-May 2022.
Even Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ spokesperson Christina Pushaw shared it along with scathing claims about Lorenz’s reporting.
Lorenz denied writing the article. She also joked that she would write it if it would "get me to 500k followers":
The fake screenshot likely originated from a meme featuring the real-life dog Whitney Chewston. An article on LGBTQ Nation from May 16, 2022, carried the headline, “This dog is the new face of online homophobia.” Chewston is a dachshund whose pictures have been shared online for around a year, usually accompanied with a homophobic statement arguing that she just doesn’t like LGBTQ people.
Her owners are a gay couple who did an interview about how the meme grew after they posted pictures of her on Instagram that became popular. They pointed out it was largely satire. Logan Hickman, one of her owners, said, “She’s not homophobic in real life! Her dads are gay. It’s interesting, almost ironic, her voice on Instagram has always been kind of sassy and a little gay, so it’s very ironic that she’s branded as homophobic.”
“But Ben [Hickman's partner] and I were actually talking about it, it’s more satire than it is anything,” Hickman continued. “Through satire and this meme, we’re kind of exposing when people who just aren’t up with the times and people who aren’t very forward toward gay people.”
According to Know Your Meme, more recent images of Chewston show that she’s “learned from [her] homophobic ways and is now tolerant of the LGBTQ+ community.” Her parents discussed the evolution of the meme:
The LGBTQ Nation article even pointed out that someone made a fake Washington Post story about Chewston, attributing it to Lorenz who wrote an article unmasking Chaya Raichik, the woman behind influential anti-LGBTQ+ Twitter account “Libs of TikTok.” The investigation made Lorenz the target of right-wing critics. One of them was Pushaw, who followed "Libs of TikTok."
Given that Lorenz has addressed the fake article and denied writing it, and that it emerged from a meme, we rate this claim as “False.”