Proud Boys: Far-right group becomes LGBT trend online


Members of the far-right group Proud Boys attend a rally in Portland, Oregon, U.S. September 26, 2020Image copyright
Reuters

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The Proud Boys have denied being a homophobic organisation

Members of the LGBT community have been making #ProudBoys trend on social media by posting images of gay pride and pictures of themselves with loved ones.

The trend is part of efforts to drown out posts and content related to a far-right, anti-immigrant group of the same name.

Actors, artists and the Canadian armed forces are among those who have shared supportive pictures.

The Proud Boys group has denied being a homophobic organisation.

Since the beginning of last week, the term #ProudBoys has been tweeted more than 88,000 times.

The majority of them have been posted since 1 October. That day, former Star Trek actor and LGBT rights activist George Takei suggested on Twitter that “gay guys” should use the hashtag to share pictures of themselves “making out with each other or doing very gay things.”

His tweet also referred to a similar campaign by Korean pop music (K-pop) fans, launched earlier this year. In support of the Black Lives Matter movement, Twitter users flooded social media with pictures of Korean musicians with the hashtags #WhiteLivesMatter and #AllLivesMatter – tags which have been used online by people critical of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Other participants of the latest #ProudBoys trend have included Bobby Berk, a host of the Netflix show Queer Eye.

Canada’s armed forces have also shared a picture of two men kissing, which has been shared over 27,000 times.

Enrique Tarrio, chairman of the Proud Boys group, told US broadcaster CNN he is not sure what social media users are trying to achieve.

“I think it’s hysterical,” said Mr Tarrio. “This isn’t something that’s offensive to us. It’s not an insult. We aren’t homophobic. We don’t care who people sleep with.

“One of the messages they want to send with this is that they’re trying to drown out our supporters, they’re trying to silence us,” he added. “When you’re trying to drown out other people’s thoughts, I don’t think there’s anything progressive about that.”

Founded in 2016 by Canadian-British right-wing activist Gavin McInnes, the Proud Boys is a far-right, anti-immigrant, all-male group.

While not exclusively white, they have became notorious for violent confrontations against left-wing rival groups. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube have all banned the Proud Boys from their platforms.

US President Donald Trump drew criticism last week after comments about the group during a presidential debate with Joe Biden. When asked to condemn white supremacist and militia groups, Mr Trump instead called on the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by”.

Many members of the group, including Mr Tarrio, took his words as an endorsement. But the president has since said that he condemns the Proud Boys and all white supremacists.

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Media captionTrump: “I don’t know who the Proud Boys are”



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