Proud Boys is a far-right organization that promotes and engages in political violence. The organization originated in 2016 and was designated by the FBI as an extremist group, in which members are only men. US Neo-fascist group Proud Boys was established by a British-born Canadian far-right politics activist Gavin McInnes. This group is located in the United States, mainly in the West, but is also active in other countries, especially in Canada and Australia. Members of the Proud Boys can be identified by their use of black and yellow Fred Perry polo shirts, marked with yellow bay laurel wreath logo and red MAGA hats. The sports clothing manufacturer lately refused to co-operate, saying that he doesn’t want to be related to this group.
American research and legal advocacy organization The Southern Poverty Law Center calls the Proud Boys a hate group, which actively takes part in the public rallies and protests, and a few members were convinced of violent crimes.
Proud Boys gained attention during the first 2020 presidential debates between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, which took place on the 29th of September, in Cleveland. Debates moderator Chris Wallace encouraged Trump to condemn white supremacists. Instead of that, Trump replied: “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.” The group reaction to this statement was rapid and positive. In one well-known social media account appeared a logo “Stand back and Stand by”. Proud Boys did not hide their joy about these words told by Trump. “Standing down and standing by Sir”, the group wrote in one of their messages in a social network.
Trump’s statement induced a new trend. After these debates, homosexual Twitter users shared their and their spouses’ and other gays’ photos trying to transform the Proud Boys meaning and to “defeat” the posts and other content of this group. Prominent figures, such as American actor and activist George Takei, spoke out and talking of Takei, he started this new trend with a tweet, suggesting homosexual men to share their couples’ photos and to add a hashtag #ProudBoys to cause a storm on the Internet. He shared a photo with his husband Brad, saying: “Brad and I are #ProudBoys, legally married for 12 years now. Our community and allies answered hate with love, and what could be better than that.”
This trend started to spread rapidly after this tweet. Photos with the hashtag were quickly increasing on the Internet and Bobby Berk, a host in the Netflix series called Queer Eye joined in by tweeting: “Look at these cute lil #ProudBoys” and attached a photo with his husband.
Canadian military forces also shared a photo of kissing men and it has been shared 27 000 times.
Proud Boys don’t officially take part in Twitter, because the social networking service banned them back in 2018 and because of their absence in Twitter allowed gay activists to take over #ProudBoys control.
Proud Boys did not accept this trend kindly, even though they tried not to show it. Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the hate group Proud Boys said the movement seems to be “hysterical”. He told CNN: “This isn’t something that’s offensive to us. We don’t care who people sleep with. People think it’s going to bother us. It doesn’t.”