Derrick Van Orden is a Republican congressional candidate from southern Wisconsin. He’s also a failed actor and the author of a book about the “lost art of manhood,” in which he writes in vivid detail about another man’s enlarged scrotum. Oh, and he’s a sniveling homophobe who throws childish temper tantrums inside small town public libraries.
A librarian from the Prairie du Chien Memorial Library in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin says she was left feeling completely rattled after Van Orden stormed into her library on June 17 and threw a dramatic hissy fit over a display of LGBTQ-affirming books she had set out for Pride month.
Teen library page Kerrigan Trautsch tells the La Crosse Tribune that Van Orden “aggressively” questioned the display before checking out all but one of the books earlier this summer.
“It was chaos,” Trautsch, who was 17 at the time, says, explaining that Van Orden, who is is currently running for a second time to represent Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District, had a full blown meltdown in the middle of the children’s section of the library, calling the display “disgusting” and “incorrect.”
Now, here’s where things get really wacky.
Trautsch says the GOP hopeful became particularly irate over the picture book “A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo,” which is a parody the former second lady Karen Pence‘s picture book about her husband’s real-life pet rabbit.
The picture book, which was an instant bestseller when it was first released in 2018, criticizes Pence’s anti-LGBTQ views by detailing the same-sex romance between Marlon Bundo and another bunny rabbit.
“His voice was loud, he was aggressive, he had his finger jabbing into (the book) constantly,” Kerrigan says, describing the situation as “very uncomfortable, threatening.”
Oh, but it gets even wackier.
Because after that, Van Orden filed an official “statement of concern” with the library, in which he called the book “historically inaccurate” and “propaganda” and accused the author of “skewing young people to think that Republicans are not inclusive.”
Then he “demanded” to speak to whoever had set up the display so he could “teach them a lesson.”
“I was the one who put up those displays,” Trautsch, who is LGBTQ, explains, though she was afraid to tell him because, “He was full on shouting at this point and he kept aggressively shoving the books around.”
Then Van Orden checked out all the books and stormed out of the building.
“I was terrified that he would be outside, that there would be a collection of people outside waiting for me, waiting for anyone else. We were terrified.”
When asked for comment, Van Orden’s office issued a statement saying he “unequivocally support[s] equal rights for all Americans.” He just doesn’t support same-sex stories about cartoon bunny rabbits, which he says “degrade the relationships we have as citizens.”
Though Trautsch was 17 at the time of Van Orden’s library meltdown, she has since turned 18, and she says, “I want him to know: I can vote now.”
But this isn’t the first time he’s made headlines for inappropriate behavior.
Last year, during his first failed congressional campaign, Van Orden was criticized for a chapter he wrote in his 2015 book “Book of Man: A Navy Seal’s Guide to the Lost Art of Manhood.”
In it, he wrote extensively about an incident that happened while he was serving in the military when he exposed a male lieutenant’s enlarged scrotum to two young female officers, who he described as “cute girls,” as a joke.
The male lieutenant had come into contact with poison oak, which caused his balls to flare up. Van Orden was sitting with him at the naval hospital when two low-level female officers walked by.
“Here’s this lieutenant sitting behind a little curtain, spread eagle, ball sack huge as a cantaloupe, and his eyes swollen nearly shut,” Van Orden wrote. “That’s when I spotted two [officers], who happened to be young girls in their early twenties. ‘Excuse me,’ I said to the two cute girls, approaching them. ‘Could I ask you something.'”
That’s when he flashed the other man’s testicles, presumably without the guy’s consent, at the two women, who “gasped in horror.”
“I’m sure they never wanted to have anything do with a man ever again,” Van Orden wrote, adding that the biggest lesson he learned from the experience was to avoid poison oak.
Graham Gremore is the Features Editor and a Staff Writer at Queerty. Follow him on Twitter @grahamgremore.