Over the weekend, a new trend was started on Twitter: take over the “Proud Boys” hashtag. The goal was to drown out the hatred and bigotry usually present in tweets by actual Proud Boy members, or members of the homophobic, racist hate group, with images of gay men loving each other.
While it’s not clear exactly who started the use of the hashtag, Star Trek icon George Takei was one of the first noted people using it. “I wonder if the BTS and TikTok kids can help LGBTs with this,” he wrote in a tweet. “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.”
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 extremist hate group caught traction again recently after it was mentioned at the first Presidential debate last week by Donald Trump. When asked by moderator Chris Wallace if he would denounce white supremacy, Trump refused to flatly say it outright. Instead, he noted: “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.”
Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the Proud Boys group, told CNN that he found the trend “hysterical.”
“This isn’t something that’s offensive to us,” he told the news organization. “It’s not an insult. We aren’t homophobic. We don’t care who people sleep with. People think it’s going to bother us. It doesn’t.”
However, it was also reported that on Parler, a free speech social media app that is heavily used as a forum for the Proud Boys, Tarrio was noting that the left was trying to turn the group’s name into a “slur.” Many other members were obviously enraged.
Hours after his initial tweet, Takei took to Twitter again with a photo of himself and his partner to praise those who had participated in the hashtag. “We’re proud of all of the gay folks who have stepped up to reclaim our pride in this campaign,” he wrote in a tweet.
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