Pride power

Gay Twitter reclaims #ProudBoys hashtag, floods social media with images of love

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.

Related: GOP candidate who made racist remarks on tape says it hurts her feelings to be called racist

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.

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).

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.”

For the most part, images came from thousands of non-famous, LGBTQ couples.

And it wasn’t just couples.

Last night, Takei took again to Twitter to post an image of himself and his husband, and to thank people for showing support.

Related: Racist pageant queen says “coming out as conservative is harder than coming out as gay”