(TMU) – It’s been less than a week since President Donald Trump name-dropped the far-right Proud Boys group, an organization known for their political violence against left-wingers. And now, the group is trending for reasons entirely out of their control.
And after having their name hijacked by the gay community on Twitter, the surly group of boys are less proud than they are supremely pissed off.
Over the weekend, gay Twitter executed a glorious plan to use the tag #ProudBoys to share uplifting stories and images of love rather than the sort of hatred and violence the far-right group has become known for.
Star Trek star and LGBTQ activist George Takei was one of the first to suggest the subversive trend, writing in a Thursday tweet:
“I wonder if the BTS and TikTok kids can help LGBTs with this. What if gay guys took pictures of themselves making out with each other or doing very gay things, then tagged themselves with #ProudBoys. I bet it would mess them up real bad. #ReclaimingMyShine”
I wonder if the BTS and TikTok kids can help LGBTs with this. What if gay guys took pictures of themselves making out with each other or doing very gay things, then tagged themselves with #ProudBoys. I bet it would mess them up real bad. #ReclaimingMyShine
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) October 1, 2020
Over the weekend, the viral campaign swept across Twitter as thousands of users ranging from celebrities to politicians and even the Canadian military used the hashtag.
Take posted a photo of himself with his husband, explaining:
“Brad and I are #ProudBoys, legally married for 12 years now. And we’re proud of all of the gay folks who have stepped up to reclaim our pride in this campaign. Our community and allies answered hate with love, and what could be better than that.”
— Christopher Ubiadas (@TheRealUbiadas) October 5, 2020
Rep. Carlos G. Smith, the first LGBTQ Latino legislator from Florida also tweeted that he and his husband Jerick Mediavilla were “Proud Boys” ready to vote. He tweeted:
“@JerickFL and I are joining thousands of gay men on social media to reclaim #ProudBoys from white supremacists and bigoted neo-nazis,” he tweeted. “Let’s replace the hashtag with images of love, positivity, and true PRIDE! Your two favorite #ProudBoys are here standing by, ready to VOTE!”
The Canadian Armed Forces in the USA also participated in the trend, and shared a photo of two men kissing, one of whom is a corporal called Brent Kenny, accompanying their post with the simple caption: “#ProudBoys.”
— Royal Canadian Navy (@RoyalCanNavy) October 4, 2020
Naturally, for the Proud Boys – a males-only group obsessed with proving their masculinity through feats of violence and milk-guzzling rituals – the trending hashtag was anything but welcome, especially after Twitter cleansed the platform of their presence.
Members of the so-called “pro-western fraternal organization” have been posting about their displeasure over seeing same-sex love on the much smaller rival app Parler.
As is typical for an organization that has been labeled a hate group by numerous monitors, online Proud Boys spouted homophobic, anti-gay hatred that they’ve long peddled and banked on.
— Allana Harkin (@AllanaHarkin) October 5, 2020
While most people hadn’t heard about the Proud Boys, the infamous group earned their 15 minutes of fame after Donald Trump name-dropped them in a notorious moment from last Tuesday’s first presidential debate with Democratic rival Joe Biden.
Trump clearly had trouble denouncing political violence by his far-right supporters when he was asked by moderator Chris Wallace whether he would “condemn white supremacists and militia groups, and to say that they need to stand down and not add to the violence in a number of these cities.”
Instead, Trump said “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.”
The Proud Boys are a group of nationalist extremists who describe themselves as “western chauvinists” and are known for their anti-Muslim, misogynistic rhetoric, as well as their frequent brawls with left-wing opponents.
However, the group denies being racist, despite its numerous links with alt-right, neo-fascist organizations.
After the group’s name was hijacked over the weekend, Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio complained that “the left” had turned the group’s name into a “slur” in an attempt “to drown out the voices of our supporters.”
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