George Takei has helped lead LGBTQ+ users in hijacking the hashtag “#ProudBoys” to drown out posts from people identifying with the right-leaning group of the same name on Twitter.
Over the weekend, photos of men celebrating their love took over the hashtag, which initially gained traction after President Donald Trump mentioned the group in last week’s presidential debate.
In a tweet posted Oct. 4, Takei, who came out as gay in 2005, asked whether “BTS and TikTok kids” could help LGBTQs “reclaim” the hashtag by making out with each other or doing “very gay things.”
“I bet it would mess them up real bad,” the “Star Trek” legend added, apparently targeting the right-wing group.
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
The Proud Boys was established in 2016 by Vice magazine co-founder Gavin McInnes, who describes the group as “a pro-Western fraternal organization” for men who refuse to apologize for “creating the modern world.” The group reports having members spanning the globe, welcoming all men regardless of race and sexual orientation. It denies categorization as an “-ism,” “-ist” or “-phobic,” suffixes that supposedly “fit the Left’s narrative.”
Contrary to some reports, the FBI has not categorized The Proud Boys as an “extremist” group.
“There have been instances where self-identified Proud Boys have been violent,” said Renn Cannon, the special agent in charge of the Portland, Oregon Division of the FBI. “[But] We do not intend and we do not designate groups, especially broad national groups, as extremists.”
Groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, however, consider the Proud Boys as a hate group, stating, “Their disavowals of bigotry are belied by their actions: rank-and-file Proud Boys and leaders regularly spout white nationalist memes and maintain affiliations with known extremists. They are known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric.”
In last week’s debate, moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump whether he is willing to condemn “white supremacists and militia groups” and ask them to “stand down and not add to the violence” experienced by cities such as Portland and Kenosha (Wisconsin).
Trump responded by pointing out that almost all the violence he sees comes from the left-wing. Pressed for an answer, he asked for a name to condemn, and Wallace suggested the Proud Boys.
For this reason, Trump told the group to “stand back and stand by,” but added, “I’ll tell you what, somebody’s gotta do something about Antifa and the left, because this is not a right-wing problem.”
Trump’s answer was immediately celebrated by Proud Boys members, which eventually prompted Takei and other LGBTQ+ users to “reclaim” the hashtag.
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. pic.twitter.com/GRtSH1ijQ8
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) October 4, 2020
Many shared photos from their wedding, dates and other casual moments as a family.
Check out more tweets below:
— Tom Van Blarcom (@TomVBBKK) October 5, 2020
— Bobby Berk (@bobbyberk) October 4, 2020
— Dan Ort-Patrick (@ok2bout) October 5, 2020
— garth lescaudron (@LescaudronGarth) October 5, 2020
— Canadian Forces in 🇺🇸 (@CAFinUS) October 4, 2020
The Proud Boys reportedly stated that the trend was fine, since the group, as reported above, has “no issue” with LGBTQ+ people.
In a post-debate interview with Fox News, Trump clarified that he condemns all white supremacists — including the Proud Boys. However, he admitted that he knows “almost nothing” about the group. He reiterated that Antifa should be condemned for being “horrible” people who cause insurrection and riots.
Feature Images via Getty