— Canadian Forces in 🇺🇸 (@CAFinUS) October 4, 2020
How do you counter hate? With love, of course, and that’s exactly what gay guys have been doing on Twitter over the weekend. It’s in response to the attention being garnered by the far-right, Proud Boys.
After Donald Trump failed to unequivocally condemn the organization during his debate with Joe Biden last Monday, telling them to instead “stand back and stand by”, Proud Boy members gleefully took to social media to claim they had Trump’s backing.
In a follow-up interview with Fox on Thursday, Trump did go on to offer a more concrete condemnation: “I’ve said it many times, let me be clear again, I condemn the KKK [Ku Klux Klan]. I condemn all white supremacists. I condemn the Proud Boys,” he told Sean Hannity.
“I don’t know much about the Proud Boys, almost nothing, but I condemn that.”
This, of course, only brought the group – whose extremist activities have been detailed by the Southern Poverty Law Center – more attention.
It’s unclear exactly where the idea to take over the hashtag #ProudBoys came from, but when actor and activist George Takei tweeted the suggestion on Thursday of attaching it to images of same-sex love, a spark was lit.
“What if gay guys took pictures of themselves making out with each other or doing very gay things, then tagged themselves with #ProudBoys?” he asked. Thousands have answered his call, and #ProudBoys began trending over the weekend.
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
Now, when you type #ProudBoys into Twitter, instead of far-right racists, you’re greeted with images of proud, gay men.
Even the Canadian armed forces joined in the action, tweeting a 2016 image of a Canadian navy sailor kissing his partner (see top).
If you wear our uniform, know what it means.
If you’re thinking about wearing our uniform, know what it means.
Love is love.
Know what we mean? ️
— Canadian Forces in (@CAFinUS) October 4, 2020
Queer Eye’s Bobby Berk also took part, tweeting a photo of himself holding his husband’s hand.
“Look at these cute lil #ProudBoys. Retweet and make this hashtag about love, not hate.”
— Bobby Berk (@bobbyberk) October 4, 2020
— Being LGBTQ Podcast️ (@BeingLGBTQPod) October 4, 2020
— TURN TEXAS BLUE (@Blue_Texas2020) October 3, 2020
— Eric Alper (@ThatEricAlper) October 4, 2020
For the most part, images came from thousands of non-famous, LGBTQ couples.
So rad how the #ProudBoys hashtag has been taken over with love. #LoveIsLove and #LoveAlwaysWins! Joining in because #LoveMatters. Been with this incredible guy for 12 years now. Happiness is.❤️️ pic.twitter.com/q0LeWnn0x9
— Brent Lindeque (@BrentLindeque) October 5, 2020
— Nick Malkin (@NickTMAZ) October 5, 2020
— Jeremy Schaeffer (@Schaefferjer) October 5, 2020
— Jay (@jaydog2315) October 5, 2020
— Michael Edwards (@Medwards27) October 4, 2020
— Ryan Hamshaw (@RyanJHammy) October 5, 2020
— Dr Paul Gilluley🌈 (@DrGilluley) October 4, 2020
And it wasn’t just couples.
— Dr Gráinne McEntee (@pongosapien) October 4, 2020
— (@worldofxtra) October 5, 2020
The #ProudBoys are here and ready to get out the vote!
Let’s build a voting army while we’re on standby ✨ RT and follow pic.twitter.com/kJehy9NCJZ
— Saad Amer (@itsSaadAmer) October 4, 2020
Last night, Takei took again to Twitter to post an image of himself and his husband, and to thank people for showing support.
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