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Memes Gone Wrong

Did ‘Stranger Things’ Star Millie Bobby Brown Leave Twitter Because of an LGBTQ ‘In-Joke?’

The teen actress’ departure from Twitter coincides with a meme portraying Brown as a violent homophobe.

Sarah Emerson

Sarah Emerson

Image: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown (@Milliebbrown) left Twitter on Wednesday. We don’t know why, exactly, as the 14-year-old actress has yet to comment on it. But her departure follows months of seemingly ironic Twitter jokes about Brown being homophobic, Islamophobic, and a bully.

The jokes were part of a meme using the hashtag #TakeDownMillieBobbyBrown. It surfaced last year when a Twitter user wrote: “I saw Millie Bobby Brown in the airport and asked for a pic and she said ‘only if you remove the hijab’ and I said its my faith and she aggressively pulled it off my head and stamped on it.”

People began to tweet fictitious accounts of Brown attacking them, using homophobic slurs. Sometimes they would photoshop hateful language over photos that Brown had posted to Instagram. The meme mainly characterizes Brown as anti-LGBTQ. The teen star has advocated for groups like GLAAD and the ACLU, and briefly ran a posi alt-account called @Milliestopshate.

That account responsible for starting the meme, @KelsFiona, has since been suspended. We asked Twitter if that has anything to do with Brown, but a spokesperson for the company would not address the matter, citing Twitter's policy for not commenting on individual accounts. Meanwhile, it does appear that some tweets using the hashtag are being flagged and removed.

It’s difficult to say for certain, but the meme may have gained popularity as an LGBTQ in-joke. It was (and maybe still is) “a homophobic meme enjoyed by certain members of the LGBTQ community,” according to Vulture. And celebrities and their fans have been memed and satirized before. As Mashable pointed out, singer Demi Lovato, who campaigned against fat-shaming, was ironically turned into a fatphobic joke.

Some have argued that the meme should only be used by the LGBTQ community.

None of this changes the fact that Brown is a child—one who’s spoken out against bullying, and is being unfairly bullied herself. Whether or not she gets Twitter irony and pop culture commentary, she’s still a kid.

Brown hasn’t commented on the matter yet, and we’ve reached out to her representatives. But in her latest Instagram Stories post, the actress simply wrote: “Good vibes only.”

This story has been updated to include Twitter's response.