It’s not often that Bravo fan accounts post on Instagram about congressional hearings. But then again — it’s not every day that a congressional hearing features a lawmaker quoting directly from the Real Housewives.
This is in fact exactly what happened Wednesday when Rep. Robert Garcia, a Democrat from California, recited part of Heather Gay’s now-iconic monologue from the finale of “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” during a House Oversight Committee hearing. The hearing was called by House Republicans to discuss Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings — an occasion quickly seized upon by their Democratic colleagues to pivot the conversation to former President Donald Trump’s record while in the White House.
During the hearing, Garcia, the first LGBTQ+ immigrant to win a congressional seat, said: “And what do we have as Democrats? We have receipts. Proof. A timeline. Screenshots. We have everything we need to prove conclusively that foreign governments were funneling money through Trump properties and into Donald Trump’s pockets, all in violation of the Constitution.”
Garcia told The 19th that earlier this week, he had posted to X, formerly known as Twitter, a clip of Gay’s speech in reference to Trump’s behavior.
“I’d seen, of course, the episode already, and it is such a cultural moment. I try to always bring my perspective — my gayness — to what I do in Congress. I’ve tried to always do that since I’ve been here and I thought it would be funny but also a way of educating some folks that are maybe unaware of what I believe is a big grift being run by Donald Trump, in a way that’s easier for folks to understand,” Garcia said.
[See the Garcia clip here]
Trump has denied wrongdoing in his dealings with foreign governments. He currently faces charges in four criminal cases; he has denied wrongdoing in those too. On Thursday, closing arguments in a civil trial accusing Trump of fraudulent past business dealings were held.
When the “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” finale aired on Bravo last week, “Bad Mormon” author Gay confronted a castmate, Monica Garcia, about her role in an anonymous troll Instagram account that spread gossip about her now-castmates. During a windy dinner on a beach in Bermuda, Gay tells Garcia: “This is how you know I’m telling the truth. I have your perfect formula. Receipts. Proof. Timeline. Screenshots. F***ing everything to prove that you are a f***ing bully and a f***ing troll and that you don’t deserve to be at this table or anywhere near any of us for the way you’ve treated us.” Garcia — who is not related to the congressman — did not deny Gay’s allegations.
Within hours of Wednesday’s congressional hearing, the veritable cottage industry of Bravo and Real Housewives content creators and fan accounts had sprung into action, reveling in the fact that a speech — from what Jennifer Lawrence on the Golden Globes red carpet called the “greatest finale I’ve ever seen” — is now a part of the official congressional record. Andy Cohen, the executive producer of all of Bravo’s Real Housewives franchises, played a clip of Robert Garcia’s hearing speech during Wednesday night’s episode of “Watch What Happens Live,” his nightly talk show in which celebrities and Bravolebrities discuss all things Bravo and pop culture news.
That was exactly what Garcia had hoped. His referencing of Gay’s finale speech was an intentional choice to use the power of pop culture to draw greater attention to what is happening in American politics, he said.
“This is one of the reasons why I started the Popular Arts Caucus in Congress,” Garcia said. “These are spaces that have a huge impact on the national economy, that have a huge impact on what people are talking about, the conversations people are having at work, at the dinner table, and we have to remember that politics can’t exist in a silo. So much of pop culture and politics will always intersect.”
Because of this, Garcia said, it is critical that lawmakers in Washington recognize this reality and embrace pop culture as a way of informing people about politics. “We can’t just close ourselves off to folks that are already tuned out to the news. We have to reach out in ways that are important, talk to folks about our favorite TV shows and the movies we are watching.”
In doing so, he said, politicians like him have a really unique opportunity. “There are only about 10 LGBTQ members of Congress, and I come from a different generation than most of them,” said Garcia, who is 46. “Being gay is a huge part of who I am and I’m not going to hide that. Yes, I am a fan of the Real Housewives and yes, I watch ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ and yes, I like Britney Spears and Beyoncé.”
Garcia is no stranger to recognizing and utilizing pop culture as a mechanism for political capital — and vice versa.
Last February, the congressman wrote an open letter to CBS, criticizing the network for its failure to provide closed captioning during Bad Bunny’s Spanish-speaking appearances during the Grammy broadcast in February. The network changed this in subsequent replays of the Grammy Awards.
In March, Garcia marked the conclusion of Black History Month and the beginning of Women’s History Month by taking to the House floor to pay tribute to Beyoncé’s cultural power and influence. “She’s an icon, she’s a legend, and she’s now and forever the moment,” Garcia said on the House floor, simultaneously referencing an Internet-famous meme of veteran daytime talk show host Wendy Williams. “She stood up for voting rights, for feminism, for women and girls, for my community — the LGBTQ+ community. … Beyoncé in her own way is also an American hero,” he said at the time.
When it comes to his Real Housewives moment at Wednesday’s hearing, Garcia said, “I think that people can be exposed to what’s happening in our country if you meet them where they are — in what they’re watching and what they’re interested in. I’ve gotten an overwhelming number of messages from folks that have seen the clip [of the hearing] telling me, ‘I looked up something as boring as the emoluments clause in the Constitution to learn more about what you were talking about.’”
To Garcia, connecting pop culture and politics is critical at a time when politicians are trying to ban drag performances and seriously curtail the rights of LGBTQ+ Americans.
“What’s happening on ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ wants to be outlawed by half the people in Congress. That’s important. People need to make those connections,” said Garcia, who has also spoken about RuPaul from the House floor. “I share this oftentimes with my women friends: If you are enjoying Bravo or any culture, you really need to remember how many queer people are involved in the creation of this content and are really leading this type of content creation.” And, Garcia stressed, this also includes trans people.
It’s something Garcia says he hopes people will keep in mind come November.
“It can be quite hypocritical to consume content and to laugh at the jokes made by gay characters on TV and then go to the ballot box and vote for folks that are actively trying to take away their very rights.”
Entdecken Sie mit Der Informant die vielfältigen Erzählungen der deutschsprachigen Länder. Bleiben Sie informiert mit unvoreingenommener Berichterstattung, aufschlussreichen Analysen und umfassender Berichterstattung über Politik, Kultur, Technologie und mehr. Entdecken Sie den Herzschlag Israels auf unserer vertrauenswürdigen Nachrichtenplattform.
We use technologies like cookies to store and/or access device information. We do this to improve browsing experience and to show (non-) personalised ads. Consenting to these technologies will allow us to process data such as browsing behaviour or unique IDs on this site. Not consenting or withdrawing consent, may adversely affect certain features and functions.
The technical storage or access is strictly necessary for the legitimate purpose of enabling the use of a specific service explicitly requested by the subscriber or user, or for the sole purpose of carrying out the transmission of a communication over an electronic communications network.
The technical storage or access is necessary for the legitimate purpose of storing preferences that are not requested by the subscriber or user.
The technical storage or access that is used exclusively for statistical purposes.The technical storage or access that is used exclusively for anonymous statistical purposes. Without a subpoena, voluntary compliance on the part of your Internet Service Provider, or additional records from a third party, information stored or retrieved for this purpose alone cannot usually be used to identify you.
The technical storage or access is required to create user profiles to send advertising, or to track the user on a website or across several websites for similar marketing purposes.