They distrust the media, rally against impeachment, and think the women are liars. But these are not Trump supporters—these are fans of Andrew Cuomo.
The disgraced New York governor, who resigned last week after a state attorney general’s report alleged sexual harassment and misconduct in his office, became a COVID celebrity during the first half of the pandemic. Fans, many of them women, flocked to Facebook groups like the “Andrew Cuomo Fan Club” (40,000 members), “We Stand With Governor Andrew Cuomo” (1,000 members), and “Friends of Andrew M. Cuomo & People Who Support Him” (1,400 members).
But as news of the investigation broke in April, along with allegations that Cuomo botched his handling of the pandemic in nursing homes and undercounted deaths, many so-called “Cuomosexuals” abandoned ship.
The New York Times reported that Etsy shops were pulling pro-Cuomo merch after his resignation. Lingua Franca, a New York-based label that sells “luxury fair trade sweaters” embroidered with resistance-y slogans announced that it would change “Cuomosexual” tops to “a new phrase of your choice,” free of charge.
One Etsy store called “Harish Gift Shop” sells a dizzying mix of pro- and anti-Cuomo slogan tees. A top that reads, “Cuomo killed my grandma” lives next to another they proudly proclaims “Single, Taken, Mentally Dating Andrew Cuomo,” with a check mark next to the last option. Another comes blazed with the Fox News chyron: “I’m not perverted, I’m just Italian.”
The owner of the store, who did not give their name, told The Daily Beast in a message that they’ve only sold about 20 Cuomo-themed shirts in total, counting both positive and negative ones together.
“I am really outraged by the news about Cuomo,” the Etsy user wrote. “Since then, my design team and I have come up with ideas for shirts against him with the desire to contribute a small role to reclaim justice for those who have been harmed by him.”
Another person who runs the CustomBull Etsy shop has offered “Cuomosexual” shirts for “about the last 4-5 months” but has yet to sell a single one. Same goes for the owner of 1997ClothingCo: no one wants to buy those Cuomo tops, either.
But in a different corner of the internet, Cuomo allies remain loud and proud in their support. In May, The Wall Street Journal reported on one such Facebook group, “Women for Andrew Cuomo.” According to the Journal, some used the group to attack accusers, others “strategize about fundraising” for the governor, and plenty of women treated it as a “fan club.” Facebook data found that 70 percent of the users in the 1,110-person Facebook group were women over the age of 55.
Unsurprisingly, the mood has been morose in recent weeks. One member of “Friends of Andrew M. Cuomo & People Who Support Him” wrote in a post, “Today in Walgreens they were giving the Pfizer booster shots to people who qualified. They said I had to have an existing condition. I put down just the word heart. I left out the word broken. When I got the booster I smiled and thought, this is for you Governor Cuomo, and if you were here you would have said, atta girl!” (The user then clarified that she “actually” qualifies for the booster for unspecified “health reasons.”)
Another person in “Andrew Cuomo Fan Club” wrote, “Letitia James & the others just sacrifice the wrong little lamb our amazing Governor Andrew Cuomo.” To punctuate the message, she added photos of the governor and some adorable stock images of lambs.
On “We STILL support Andrew Cuomo,” one admin posted a TikTok video showing a montage of photos featuring the governor, set to Christina Aguilera’s song “Ain’t No Other Man.”
On that same page, some women began posting about sending flowers to the governor’s mansion in Albany. “I just ordered flowers from the Enchanted Florist,” one wrote last week. “The Governer [sic] should receive them by tomorrow.”
One commenter agreed: “We should inundate him with flowers!”
An employee who answered the phone at The Enchanted Florist would not give their name or title, but confirmed that “several dozen people have sent” the governor flowers. “It is extremely true and it’s extremely happening,” the worker said, adding. “Every single one of them has been a woman. One card included the name of the husband.”
The employee added that The Enchanted Florist will provide “free delivery” to the governor “for the time period that he is [still] there,” or the week and a half Cuomo has left in office. “That has everything to do with business being business,” the worker clarified. “It has nothing to do with the business supporting the governor. I have to be very careful.” Four other Albany-area flower shops did not report receiving orders to send to the governor. “
No one who posted about sending the governor flowers would speak to The Daily Beast about their support for Cuomo. One member of the group urged others not to speak to a reporter. “Why my husband and I chose to send flowers is none of her g’dmm business,” she wrote. Administrators of the various groups also did not respond to requests for comment.
“I’ll just say that it comes as no surprise that there are women who protect and defend abusive men,” said Jack Z. Bratich, a professor at Rutgers who studies the intersection between pop culture and politics. “It happens in romantic relationships and also in professional ones. There are a number of reasons for this, but one main factor is that in patriarchy, women’s ability to thrive still often depends on men in power. In the Cuomo case, women’s political survival might have been hitched to his continued reign, so their professional investment in him is now at risk.”
The Saturday after Cuomo resigned, a small group of around 11 people gathered outside of the governor’s New York City office on Third Avenue, not far from the United Nations headquarters. They toted signs that read, “Thank You, Governor Cuomo” and “We stand with the governor.” One woman wore a white T-shirt with “#Andy” stamped on the front.
“I’m here today because I still support the governor,” Brenda Torres, a Brooklyn woman who gave her age as “late fifties,” said. “I don’t think he was given fair treatment. I don’t think he received the due process that he should have.”
Torres didn’t think of herself as “political” until she got furloughed from her travel company job last year. Stuck at home during the beginning of the pandemic, she turned to Cuomo’s popular pressers as a means of comfort. She began joining Facebook groups dedicated to the governor.
“It was a support group for all of us to talk and keep calm,” Torres said. “To discuss his briefings when he came on. OK, he’s calming us down and doing what he needs to do and telling us what we need to do to stay safe. I wouldn’t call it a fan club. It’s more of a support group.”
Torres does not appreciate being called a “Cuomosexual.” “We take offense to that,” she said. “I’m a supporter, but I’m also a serious person. By the media labeling us Cuomosexuals, what they did was a disservice. We were the butt of a joke. And we’re not a joke, and we’re not just women. There are men, too. We do have a voice and we want to be heard.”
Most of Torres’ summer has been spent attending pro-Cuomo events. “I’ve made new friends,” she said. “He’s really united us, and that’s one of the lovely things about this project. He does have that empathy, warmth, and it rubs off on you. If he can do it with all of us through a tiny little screen, why can’t we do this with each other?”
Along with her crew of New York protesters, Torres has become virtual buddies with supporters from London, Canada, Kazakhstan, and Germany. She’s sent letters to Cuomo thanking him, though she doesn’t expect to get anything back. “He’s always going to be my governor,” Torres said. “There’s not going to be another one for me.”
Torres said they felt the AG’s report was “flawed,” and that the 11 witnesses alleging sexual harassment were not “vetted properly.” Those who spoke at the rally seemed to agree. Carmen Enriquez, a member of the New York State Democratic Party Committee for Assembly District 39, held up a selfie Brittany Commisso, the executive assistant who said Cuomo groped her twice, took with the governor.
In an emotional interview, Commisso told CBS News that she felt Cuomo’s hand “go down my back onto my butt, and he started rubbing it,” right before the photo was taken. She mentioned being “embarrassed” and “nervous” and said she couldn’t stop shaking. Commisso said she moved to sit on the couch so she’d have better control over her body, and that’s when she snapped the smiling selfie with Cuomo.
At the rally outside of his office, Enriquez held a blown-up copy of the selfie and attacked Commisso’s credibility, saying she did not see “any evidence of sexual harassment in this photo.”
Betty Alcivai, a woman from Queens, had been to three pro-Cuomo rallies. “I love everything he does, and I think he’s a very good person,” she said. She doesn’t believe the allegations. “I am a woman. If someone does something to me, I say, ‘Excuse me, if you do that again I will report that to my manager.’ That’s how it should work.”
What do the Cuomo supporters want? Part of their meeting was an unabashed display of love for their governor, one that ended with a fervent chant of, “Cuomo! Cuomo!” They disagree with resignation, but mostly just want people to know: they exist.
“He is well supported,” Torres said. “And that’s the message we want to get out there, because—no offense—the media, all they do is the negative. They forget the positive, and they don’t talk about the positives, the supporters. They don’t come to talk to us, ever, or ask us to come have a forum, discussion, something. It’s never happened. It’s always been, let’s report all of the negative and let’s become the judge, jury, and executioners. It’s like, did you guys forget all of the good things he’s done? Why is it being put on the back burner?”
As women on the Facebook groups process their grief over Cuomo’s resignation, many assure each other that the governor will be back someday. “He’s not disappearing, and neither are we,” one wrote.
Another posted an inspirational quote. “Reset, readjust, restart, refocus… as many times as you need to,” it read. The user captioned the graphic: “This thought reminds me of what we want Governor Cuomo to do.”