“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
Gay men have taken to Twitter to reclaim the “proud” hashtag, following Donald Trump’s refusal to condemn White Supremacy during the presidential debate, along with signaling to an Alt-Right paramilitary group that they should “stand back and stand by.”
The armed White insurgents known as Proud Boys have triggered violent incidents across the Pacific Northwest, in an attempt to suppress peaceful protesters supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. The organization has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The #ProudBoys saw a spike on Twitter after Trump’s implied endorsement on September 29, and the mention has been used for expanding recruitment.
Chris Wallace: “Are you willing, tonight, to condemn white supremacists and militia groups and to say that they need to stand down…”
Trump: “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by! But I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left.”
But instead of hate-filled messages and White Supremacy propaganda, the hashtag has been trending with photos of celebration from gay men.
In England, the term “rent boy” refers to a type of male prostitute – usually young men who have sex with men. “Pride” has become synonymous with the LGBT equality movement around the world.
So when Proud Boys first popped-up on social media, the meaning was perceived to be related to homosexuality. Understanding of their true nation came quickly, in the wake of their weaponized intimidation efforts and violent actions.
The goal of Takei’s movement was to take back the hashtag and replace it with something positive, hopeful, and uniquely gay. Thousands of posts of men kissing each other flooded Twitter over the October 3 and 4 weekend.