Did Ron DeSantis Say ‘You’d Never See Kurt Cobain or David Bowie Dressing Like Women’?

On February 22 2023, an Imgur account shared a screenshot of a tweet which purportedly quoted Florida’s far-right governor Ron DeSantis (R) on music stars Kurt Cobain and David Bowie “never … dressing like women”:

Top comments on the Imgur thread typically pointed out that both Cobain and Bowie wore dresses, and they included the following:

“Tell me you know nothing about David Bowie without telling me you know nothing about David Bowie.”

“Holy shit did he say that? That’s one of the first things I think of when someone says Bowie or Cobain.”

“Was ron under a rock in the 80s?”

No link to the tweet was included with the image, and visible date indicated the tweet was published on January 28 2023. A quick search indicated that the tweet was deleted, but several others tweeted the same thing:

By far, the most popular version of the quote was shared by writer Charlotte Clymer on January 27 2023:

That iteration was slightly different, as it was part of a lengthier thread by Clymer. It began:

Clymer’s first tweet in the thread mentioned a “statewide ban on Pink Floyd,” referencing a then-recent rumor that Pink Floyd’s rainbow prism avatar had caused controversy on social media. At the end of the thread, Clymer tweeted a link to a post on her Substack blog:

It was titled “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Announces Ban on Pink Floyd,” and it was structured as if it reported on coverage of a press conference on January 27 2023. In that longer context, the post was clearly satirical:

When asked by one journalist to elaborate on his misgivings over the trajectory of the genre, DeSantis pointed to legendary rock acts and pointedly asked why today’s music is so sexually immoral.

“You know, when I was in high school and college, rockers were men’s men,” he said in response to reporters. “I’d pop in a Judas Priest CD on the way to class and feel amped. You remember Rob Halford? That guy was a beast. Women loved him.”

Reporters, exchanging confused glances, asked DeSantis if he had any other favorites … DeSantis appeared briefly confused at muffled laughter from the gathered press.

“I mean, look, you can laugh at my taste in music, but you can’t deny that men back then weren’t wearing dresses onstage. You’d never see Kurt Cobain or David Bowie dressing like women.”

At this point, the Governor’s press secretary attempted to intervene by rushing to the podium and claiming he was behind schedule.

“Wait, wait—”, DeSantis said, waving off his concerned staffer, “These people need to understand what real rock ‘n’ roll is. Uh, where was I?”

“Sir, you were saying Kurt Cobain never wore dresses,” a reporter called out.

If there was any doubt left, Clymer herself called it “satire”: 

“If you enjoy this dorky satire,” her tweet said, “please donate to ACLU of Florida (@ACLUFL): aclufl.org.”

On February 22 2023, an Imgur account shared a screenshot of a deleted tweet; the tweet claimed that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said “you’d never see Kurt Cobain or David Bowie dressing like women.” The quote was satirical, published by Charlotte Clymer on Twitter and Substack on January 27 2023. Clymer’s thread on Twitter enabled one of the tweets (the one with the quote) to spread outside the context of her satirical blog post. As such, readers who came across the quote out of context saw no indication that it was a parody.